Chicago Stories

Road Trips are exciting. Jill and MJ and I were just reminiscing about driving across country on past vacations. I vividly recall our Great Western Holiday in the early 1990’s. I had recently purchased a vintage Mercury Marquis. When I put my foot on the accelerator…there seemed to be no end to the increased speed that the deep maroon mercury could attain. The automobile had plush velour seats and drove like a, Young Lincoln, as my friend Ben Mezo had described his Mercury Grand Marquis in the early 1970’s. We decided to point our noses west and see where they led us as we followed them. We began climbing Pikes Peak as we traveled on our great escapade only to discover that we could only drive half way up, due to snow on the higher elevations. We drove about 500 miles per day with the ultimate goal of visiting Aunt Lauretta and Uncle Merle…before returning home. MJ noted one morning that we were only a day or less drive from Southern California…I had always dreamed of visiting California…and so we proceeded with gusto. San Diego was simply beautiful and ocean and pier was some of my fondest memories. I purchased my first Bosson’s Head at a little shop at the San Diego Pier. If you have never seen a Bosson Head…you have not lived. Bosson was an English family owned business that made the most realistic chalk heads of different characters in literature and history. When you encounter one…you expect it to talk to you. Finally we arrived at Merle and Laurettas and Merle asked me if my car was new and I replied that I had purchased it used. He said that he had never had a car so fine or been able to afford it…Of course this was over the top rhetoric…but I received the point…Don’t be a show off.’ I was driving the Mercury a little faster each day of the 2 week odyssey. Through Utah…I did not see a police officer. In Colorado…i did not see a squad car. At times I was driving 90…95…100 miles per hour…and it was like floating over the road. We drove well in excess of 5 thousand miles on our western driving holiday…

So, the Brooks’ family were going to take a Harley Davidson Motorcycle road trip from Chicago. Of course this would be the first Brooks’ family…Neva June and Bill…and little Jay in the middle of them. The trek was to be all of the way to the home of my mom’s sister’s, Guelda and Wanda, and my Grandmother Askew. The better part of a six hour marathon…unless you drive like my dad. Dad wore a leather motorcycle jacket and a jaunty cap with a brim. he placed our luggage in his leather saddle bags…and our first stop was a truck stop along route #57. When we entered the restaurant and store combined mom and dad took a seat at the table and I began to look around. I immediately set my sights on some very interesting looking paper back books. I had not learned to read…much…but I literally loved books. I took a book back to the lunch table and announced to all that I was going to read the book over our lunch. Mom said, ‘You silly kid…that book is for sale and you must take it back to where you found it,’ and I was mortified as I thought that we were in a restaurant and library. When we arrived at Grandma Askew’s there were the aunts that hugged me like I was their favorite pet and Grandma with a piece of apple pie and a white coffee mug filled with cold milk. And Uncle Bill, Wanda’s husband, who stood and grinned like the Cheshire Cat of Alice In Wonderland and rhythmically moved his tongue between a gap in his lower teeth. Bill said, ‘How are you doing Junior,’ to my dad…and I wondered why he called him Junior. Then there was the visit with all where I discovered that Aunt Wanda and Uncle Bill had recently moved to Eldorado from Alaska…along with their children, Brenda and Billy…my cousins. I slept on the living room couch that had been made into a makeshift bed…next to Nugget…the dog…who did not like me and showed me his bared teeth in a wicked snarl…to ensure that I fully understood the arrangement. When I woke in the middle of the night to feel the opened windows cool country breezes of Southern Illinois…there was Nugget looking at me and smiling his toothy smile.

Talk ensued of the Brooks 3 moving to Eldorado…and it was in whispers and hushed tones…and the little Brooks was not supposed to hear…and mom seemed sad…and dad seemed sad.

One response

  1. I had recently purchased a vintage Mercury Marquis. When I put my foot on the accelerator…there seemed to be no end to the increased speed that the deep maroon mercury could attain. (Could pass anything on the road but the gas station). of all the parts of the US I visited on my two-year cycling road trip, the Rockies, by far, were the most memorable, too.

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