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So sorry that there has been a bit of a lag between Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. This should be the final chapter of what I call “My Trip Out West” – or as the title suggests – “Over the Rainbow.”  After all, I was only four years old – almost five. So everything about this trek from Ohio to the Pacific Ocean and back was magical!

In the last installment, Mom, Dad, and I were finishing up our time at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Marine Land in California. From there we drove to Victorville, California which sits on the edge of the Mojave Desert in San Bernadino County.

We spent September 21 and 22 at the home of Captain and Mrs. H.B. Alexander, friends of my parents. September 21 was my mother’s birthday. I thoroughly believed my mom was 29 because as is common, once she passed a “certain” birthday milestone, she always said she was only 29. Wow – imagine my surprise a couple of years later when I realized that she was much older than 29!  I was also confused when I realized my grandparents were also in the area!  They were on a tour of the western United States as well and it was probably by design that they were able to celebrate their daughter’s birthday.

     

Leaving the Alexander home, we traveled to the Grand Canyon. Breathtaking, beautiful, scenic, awesome are only a few words to describe what a magnificent wonder it is. When we had left California, the temperature was over 100 but as we got to the rim of the Canyon, the temperature had a drop of over 40 degrees. I remember wearing a sweater as we stood gazing out over such a majestic sight.

Leaving the Grand Canyon, we drove northeast toward Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy. We stayed with the R.G. Schuster family and toured the Academy.

  

While there we saw 1800 cadets marching in formation and the beautiful Chapel. It is one building I will never forget being inside. On September 26 our western trip was complete and we began the drive back to Ohio, arriving on September 28.

There are many things I remember very well about the trip – items that weren’t part of a tour or a national park or a wonder of the world. Mom had packed a hot plate because even though we were able to stay in the homes of so many family and friends, we were also in a lot of motels!  The hot plate enabled her to heat up oatmeal for breakfast or a can of soup for lunch.

A lot of my breakfasts (when not at a home or in a restaurant)   were Keebler Cinnamon Graham Crackers and milk (hey, I loved it and still eat it!!). I can remember restaurants we ate at or purchased food to go from: Jerry’s (I think it was like Denny’s), Kentucky Fried Chicken (before it went by it’s initials!), and Howard Johnson’s (which is a hotel chain but we’d eat at the restaurant). I remember laundry mats – and oh goodness, there were many laundry mats that Mom and I were at washing clothes. Well, she washed and dried, and I sat and watched. I believe a lot of them were a dime. Mom would always need dimes. I remember lying across the backseat of the Pontiac either sleeping or trying not to give in to my car sickness. Every once in awhile, Dad would rouse me so I could “see the sights” – something he knew that I just had to see!  Except for the accident. I don’t know where it was but we were bumper to bumper on the road.  As we got closer, and my parents saw the ambulance (back then, they looked like a hearse) and the emergency vehicles, my Dad realized that whatever it was – was very, very bad. He told me to keep lying down and not to look.  I think later after I was older, Mom told me that it was a fatality and there was lots of blood. I also remember the little Wet Naps we always got – especially at KFC. And guess what I thought those little sudsy napkins were for? Cleaning the car windows!!  That was a big mistake!  Those windows I so carefully “cleaned” were loaded with streaks and probably were dirtier than when I started!

Oh – and going over the rainbow? Yes, I feel as if I certainly did!  At one point, after my mother could not stand to listen to me asking if we were in Kansas and where was Dorothy’s house, she pointed to a run down farm house and said – “That’s Dorothy’s house!” I spent many years believing that I saw the actual house!  (Ok, then I thought that maybe it was the “actual” house from the film until Mom told me she just could not stand to hear me ask that question one more time!)  So I don’t know if we were in Kansas (which would have been on the way back to Ohio – so I think we were probably in Montana or Idaho when she did that!).  I was young enough to see Disneyland as a child would but old enough to be able to remember quite a bit about that trip. And I have tons of pictures to help me remember!

I hope you have enjoyed my Travel Thursday series of Over the Rainbow!  I hope to begin a new series soon!

Sources: 

Personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966.

Wikipedia Article online for “Victorville California”, 27 July 2012.

Photo of Cinnamon Graham Crackers: Keebler.com, 2012. Kellogg.

Photo of Rainbow: Rainbow in the sky by Jonathon Coombes (Public Domain)

All Other Photos taken by Gene or Mary Amore, digital or original slide/print owned by Wendy J Littrell, address for private use. 

Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog

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In case you are just now joining this series and need to catch up, you can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

Go ahead and read – I’ll wait.

Okey, Dokey – all done and ready for the 4th installment now? Good!  Any questions so far?

We have just left Northern California and are headed toward DISNEYLAND!!! To put everything into perspective, Disneyland (the original in Anaheim, California) opened its gates in July 1955 (Source: Wikipedia). A few months before we arrived in the fall of 1966, New Orleans Square had opened at Disneyland. Little did I realize as a child of not quite five, that Main Street U.S.A. was inspired from Walt Disney’s childhood hometown of Marceline, Missouri.  And even less did I realize that after I was all grown up, I would marry a man who grew up not too far from Marceline and would drive me through the town when we visited his folks just down the road in Mendon, Missouri. (As Walt would say, “It’s a small world, after all”!!!)

I’m jumping way ahead of myself. We arrived late in the evening and checked into our motel just beyond the parking lot. We would traverse that lot the next morning to begin our day. Just as we entered the gates, this is what happened:

I got a big hug from Pluto! 

And then we saw:

this!

And this (below):

Pirate Restaurant, teacup ride of the Mad Tea Party, and the Skyway ride over the park.

In Fantasyland, we rode in the teacups, Dumbo, and rode in the boats through Storybrook Land (see below). We went on the Small World and Peter Pan ride and much more!

We saw attractions in Frontierland, Adventureland (see below) and Tomorrowland.  BUT – the rocketship to the moon was not there or open. I remember a big hole with a lot of dirt. So to keep from being too disappointed, I told my parents that the rocket must have already taken off and maybe it would be back the next day.  We did go on the Submarine adventure – I was so excited thinking that we were really going deep into a big ocean. 

The next day we returned to Disneyland for part of the day.  Below you will see a picture of Mom and I sitting outside a shop.

All too soon our “Disney Adventure” was ending. It was time to move on to other attractions in the area.  At Knotts Berry Farm, we saw the train.

Met an “old west” type man.

I also saw a shoot out that left me crying and very frightened for my dad.  As we were getting ready to board the train, two men started “shooting” at each other. One was “killed” and the other loaded the “dead” man up into a wheelbarrow and hauled him off. I was so scared that my dad was going to get shot and killed while we were waiting on the train. I cried for a long time but finally my parents made me realize that it was all pretend and my dad was going to be ok. It was just like being in a movie! Everything was pretend!  Even the “snow” (below) . . .

It was really flakes of soap. My mother hated that!  For many, many years, she would talk about how hard it was getting all those particles of soap out of my hair. It wasn’t as easy as just washing it out. And my hair was naturally curly to boot!

We saw a “burlesque” show – remember this is a family park so it wasn’t too risque!  Lots of old buildings and fun activities to participate in.

Another day it was off to Marine Land!  We saw Flipper (if you do not know who or what that is, go google “Flipper TV show”)!  We saw big whales, trained dolphins, fish, and penguins.



We also went to Universal City (it was nothing like it is today!). I got to see the set of “The Munsters” (go ahead, google it, it’s ok!)

And I even got to “meet” Herman Munster (above)! (disclaimer: this was not the actor who portrayed Herman Munster, it was someone who wore a mask and just did the PR pictures with tourists and guests! But I didn’t care!)

Stay tuned for more of the Journey!

Sources: personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966. Also: yesterland.com

Photos: Photographer on all photos – Gene Amore; all photos – print, slide, digital in the possession of Wendy Littrell to be used as needed.  No reprints without permission.

Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog.

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Disneyland, Anaheim, California.  September 1966.
Mickey and Me.
Photo taken by Gene Amore and is now in my sister’s possession.

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This picture (look at the door) reminds me of the homes in the “shire” in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Large doorknob in the center of the door!  This picture was taken in California during the trip I took with my parents in the mid-60s.  I don’t remember if this was at Disneyland or Universal Studios.  The original photo is a slide that I scanned.  My dad (I believe) was the photographer.

Why it pertains to “genealogy”: it is part of the story of my travels as a child that I can pass on to my children and grandchildren.  That they may know that I was able to see a vast majority of the United States in my youth, my experiences, the things I saw, and how I remembered them. 

Why I chose this picture?  Kind of freaky – doorknob in the center of the door?  Weird!

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Yes, YOU!  Where have you gone?  This post has to do with traveling or relocating somewhere besides the area of land you’ve always called home.  My challenge to you is to write about the places you’ve traveled or lived (or at least one!) and send me the permalink so I can share with everyone. 

A bit of background first: I was the baby of the family and not just because I was the last child born but because my brother was 21 and married and my sister was 16 when I was born.  My parents, brother and sister had already lived a family life way before I came along.  I was the “oopsy” baby.  Just when my folks thought they’d be empty nesters soon, wham – there I was!  My mother tells me my dad used to joke and say they’d put the dog in the house and the baby in the garage!  I’d like to say I can’t imagine what they felt like, but I can.  No, I didn’t have a “later in life” baby but we have been raising our grandson since he was 9 months old.  When he first came to live with us, I was almost the same age my mother was when she had me.  My children were basically grown – I had three left at home.  One starting college, one a year and a half away from graduating and a middle schooler. 

Back before I was born, my father was in the Army Air Corps (which later became the US Air Force).  My family lived in Japan during two tours in the 1950s.  They lived in Florida upon their return to the states the end of the 50s before my dad retired from the Air Force to take a civil service position and move to Southwestern Ohio.  The place I was born and raised.

As a young child, I’d see slides and pictures of my family’s travels and their homes in Japan. Yes, I was jealous.  I never got to live anywhere “cool” like overseas.  It didn’t matter that my sister told me she really didn’t have any close friends.  Why bother getting close with someone when you just picked up and moved three years later?  The place she calls “home” is the same place I call home – even though she was born in a Western state and lived in a lot of places prior to that. 

However, because of my dad’s job with the civil service, he had to go on lots of business trips.  Before I started school, Mom and I were able to travel with him.  So I got to see the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Empire State Building in New York City; and the Hancock building in Chicago.  One of my favorite memories is when we went to New York.  We saw the “Odd Couple” movie (Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon) at the movie theater, walked along the New York city streets, shopped in the amazing department stores, and rode the city buses.  I saw Rockefeller Plaza.  We took a fairy boat ride around the Statue of Liberty.

Empire State Building

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

  

 

When I was a year away from starting (what my school called Kindergarten), my dad took a lot of vacation time and we traveled to Disneyland.  No, we didn’t board an airplane.  Nor did we drive straight there.  We took an overland excursion!  From Ohio we went to visit my aunt in East Central

Niagra Falls

Ohio first, then up to Michigan to my Uncle’s home.  We cut over to Canada to see the Niagra Falls from the Canadian side and then down to Montana.  My parents had lived there when my sister was born and their friends were still there so we spent a couple days with them.  Then on to Idaho where we saw the “Craters of the Moon” and then into Washington to visit my great-aunt and friends of my parents they had been stationed with in Japan.  We took a fairy boat ride to Victoria, British Columbia where the town looked to me out of a story-book.  Then down to Oregon and the great forests and into California.  We saw the Giant Redwoods, went to Marineland, Knotts Berry Farm, and then Disneyland. Me and Pluto!

 

 

Talk about feeling like a fairy princess.  It was more wonderful than anything I’d ever imagined.  I met Pluto, the three little pigs, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Snow White! 

After a few days at the magical kingdom, we traveled south to the desert and stayed with another family my parents knew.  Saw my grandparents who were also traveling out west about the same time!  Then on through Arizona where the majesty of the Grand Canyon took my breath away and the beauty of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest enthralled me.  Up to Colorado to the Air Force Academy.  Through the midwest back home.Grand Canyon

 

 

When we got to Kansas I kept repeating that I wanted to see Dorothy’s house (Wizard of Oz).  So my folks picked out some random farm and told me there it was!  Of course it was real!  I had just been “over the rainbow” so I believed with all my heart that Dorothy had been too! 

So in the course of my very short life, I’d been to: Michigan, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York.  Canada was the only “foreign” country I’d visited.

Since that time I’ve also gone to (or through!) Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  I live in Texas now.

I’d love to go to New England, the Dakotas, Virginia and Washington D.C.  For foreign travel I’d love to see Great Britain, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Austria, Germany, and of course where my family lived in Japan. 

So where did you go?

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