Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom

Here's Mom behind the wheel, my brother and Grandma. They weren't so big on child car safety back in 1960.

That's Mom behind the wheel and my brother and me in the back seat of our awesome 1961 Chevy station wagon. That's the first car I can really remember.

Mom and her rootin' tootin' cowboys, Christmas, 1964.

Today is my Mom's 80th birthday. I'm trying to come up with something witty or punny to say here, but, really, she's just a great, great mom. Roadtrip-wise, Mom was always the facilitator. She's the one who filled the coolers, made the killer potato salad, applied the sunscreen, made us wear big floppy hats, put the flea collars on the pets, dabbed the Calamine lotion on the mosquito bites, painted the Merthiolate on the scrape, relieved car boredom with games of 20 Questions, fixed me a comfy bed in the station wagon when my asthma prevented me from sleeping with the rest of the family in the tent at the campground, made sure I didn't eat any more clams the next day after they really, really didn't agree with me the night before, packed an extra set of clothes for me after I inevitably would fall into a lily pond or tourist attraction fountain, made sure I wrote post cards and thank you notes to Grandma, bought me a Ring Ding every once in a while, cooked the best fried fish I ever ate, listened to the car radio station my brother and I wanted to listen to, played miniature golf ad nauseum with my brother and me, rode a bike on vacation with us when most people over 40 didn't ride bikes, slept on the fold-out cot in our Cape Cod cabin and not on one of the comfortable beds, twisted her ankle on the first day of our vacation and still hobbled along and let us have a great time, let me buy comic books, took me to great museums, got us a tour of NBC studios in New York City when I was 9 years old, always had three square meals for us, told me to come in so I wouldn't get sunburned, over-excited or over-tired, and generally made every family roadtrip we ever took the best times of my life and the inspiration for this blog.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eccentric street name of the week

Wasn't that a cereal back in the '60s: Quisp, Quake and Quagnut?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We will, we will "Rock" you: Greetings from Alcatraz

This is the cell where an escape was perpetrated in 1962. Note the big hole in the wall.

This is the view of San Francisco from The Rock.



...and many others have been to The Rock.

All aboard.

Say "clink!"

Every so often, it's nice to visit a place that makes you appreciate your lot in life a little bit more. Take Alcatraz, for instance. That notorious island a mile and a half off the shore of San Francisco gets this job done because, no matter how hard things might seem, they must have been much worse for the "guests" of this harshest of federal prisons from 1868 until it closed in 1963. The roster of convicts reads like a who's who of the worst of the worst of yesteryear: Machine Gun Kelly, Creepy Karpis, Doc Barker, Robert "Birdman of Alcatraz" Stroud. Even the au courant Whitey Bulger did time on The Rock. But Alcatraz's most notorious detainee was "Scarface" Al Capone, who served four years before being transferred to another prison due to his tertiary syphilis. Ouch.

Several escapes were attempted, and three prisoners actually made their way out in 1962 through an ingenious use of dummies, tunneling, air vents and accordion music. It's likely they drowned in San Francisco Bay, but their bodies were never found, so who knows? The 1979 movie starring Clint Eastwood leads you to believe they made it, and what Clint says goes. A few years after the government shut down the prison in 1963 (it was deemed too expensive to maintain), the island was seized by a group of Native Americans to protest U.S policies regarding Indian affairs. After 19 months of occupation, a new policy of self-determination was negotiated with the U.S. government. Now the island is run by the National Parks Service and tours are of the prison and island are given daily. We were there on an appropriately miserable, rainy day last spring and the boat was absolutely mobbed with tourists eager to see how bad bad can be. All in all, it's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Elvis left the building 34 years ago

The Three Kings in Tupelo, Mississippi, his hometown.

The front steps of Graceland in Memphis. Can't remember who took this picture...maybe Priscilla?

His grave at Graceland.

We stayed at the official Heartbreak Hotel across the street from Graceland. Here are the luxurious quarters.

Tupelo, Mississippi.

His boyhood church outhouse, Tupelo (handicapped accessible).

His birth home.

The magnificent Nina gives a tour of the interior.

Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis' Mama bought him his first guitar at age 10. That's Howard, pointing to the duct tape X where Elvis and Mrs. Presley stood.

This picture is probably the most requested photo from the National Archives in Washington, DC.

And finally, some items from the awesome Bonanza Gift Shop in Las Vegas.

Elvis Presley died on this day in 1977. I remember seeing the report on the 6:30 evening news in our cabin on our portable black and white Zenith TV that my family brought with us to Cape Cod on our summer vacation. I also remember Groucho Marx died on the same day and I was actually more "shook up" about his passing than Elvis's. We've seen quite a bit of Elvis on our road trips over the years, so here's a look back. Just our way of saying "thanka, thanka verra much".