Monday, March 23, 2009
A trip... part 1. Error and shock...
The basement was huge, and the kids had enough room to roller-skate down there when the weather was rainy. We also had a washer and dryer, a freezer, and lots of left over space. In one corner we had built shelves to store things on.
And on those shelves, just within sight, was our camping equipment.
One hot summer day after I had gathered up the laundry and was carrying it to the washer, I noticed it sitting there idle, and memories came back of our very first real camping trip.
The red sleeping bags, the blue tent, the green camp stove and lantern... BIG SIGH! We could not figure out how to get away with everything that needed taking care of.
So the memories came flooding back with great poignancy.
John had finished his dissertation, and soon we would be driving East so he could take his first job at MIT. In between we had a couple of precious weeks and we knew just what to do with them.
That is, we knew we wanted to go on a real camping trip. The question was, which of the many great sites in California would we visit?
We picked Yosemite. It was a name from our childhoods and the name alone flooded our minds with magic and mystery.
It was a long two days' drive with a 2 year old and an infant, so we decided to spend the first night with friends in Pasadena. We drove up the 'back way' from San Diego after a difficult day of packing clothes, disposable diapers that we had just heard of and were trying out, food, and all the camping equipment in our old Pontiac Catalina sedan, and leaving room for a car seat and a car bed.
(In those days there were no car seat laws, and we always traveled with the baby of the moment lying loose in a car bed that was made from the pull-out body of an old baby carriage. A baby carriage is - never mind. The image makes me cringe.)
We left late, and arrived after dark in Pasadena and fondly greeted the friends we didn't see very often. We would be sleeping in their house that first night, and John carried things in from the car while I fed the babies, nursing Margo and getting VJ some supper they'd saved for us.
John came in from the car after carrying in most of our needs for the night with a puzzled look on his face. After looking around and going back to the car several times, he said that the clothes box was missing.
I could just picture it where I'd been adding small shirts and shorts, on the far side of our bed. I could just see how it could have gotten overlooked...
We couldn't go on without it. The thought never entered our minds to buy new clothes for us all. Instead, John suggested that he go back to La Jolla, pick up the box, and return in one big round trip. It would take him till past midnight...
I thought hard about alternatives but came up with nothing.
This dumb little mistake was to put him in time and space at almost the exact point of an historical event that will forever be part of the history of our nation and perhaps humanity....
While he was gone, we watched TV with the family. Bobby Kennedy was speaking in LA. The speech was inspiring! It fired our young spirits with hope for justice and peace.
Then, when it was over, and he left the podium, and the news crews were tying up the broadcast, suddenly the cameras switched to the kitchen, where on the floor lay...
This was June 4-5, 1968. Bobby Kennedy lay dying, and we sat in shock. John was still gone and I wondered if he'd have the radio on and would have heard about it. Finally he arrived, an hour or so after the shooting. He had come up the coast instead of the back way, and had gone through LA. He reported that he had heard and scene much commotion, sirens and police lights...