I can’t imagine. So you were hoping for California. Did anyone have a clue as to where he was taking the family?
No, no idea. We just drove south and then west on route 66. I kept my brother, Mark and Teresa occupied by acting out scenes with my hands while mother tended to Fred. Teresa was about six, Mark four and Fred one. I made my fingers appear like tiny dinosaurs that walked around on our legs and arms and made them appear to be eating and fighting with each other. Don probably just sat there looking out the window. I don’t remember playing any kind of games such as counting cars or whatever other games most children or families play on long trips.
Mark got very sick on the trip. I think he had hit his head before we left New York and maybe he had a concussion but I remember one night we stayed at a motel and they took him to a hospital to get checked out. Next day though we were off again. You would have thought his head was used to getting hit. When he was still in his crib he would get down on all fours and bang his head into the crib to either move it around the room or perhaps it was a useful mechanism for relaxation. Even though that sounds like strange behavior we thought it was quite normal for him and in our defense the crib’s head and foot boards were made of thin material.
We never had a problem with the car or the boat until we passed through Vinita, Oklahoma. We drove under this big restaurant that spanned across the highway. It was called “The Glass House” then. Odd because after we drove under it and still heading west we encountered a flat tire on the boat trailer.
Buss pulled over and took the tire off, unhitched the trailer and left Don and I there as the rest of the family went back to Vinita to get the tire repaired.
I knew we were in Oklahoma but the only thing I knew about the state was that it was inhabited by cowboys and Indians. It was late August 1966. It was hot and windy. Don and I sat on the edge of the highway facing some wheat fields. I felt like it was sunnier than in New York and definitely hotter. I was looking for the Indians though because I was afraid there might be some that would come get us.
When the tire was put back on the boat trailer we drove back into that town of Vinita and spent the night. It was very hot and humid in the evening and we were allowed to get an ice cream cone in a “Dairy Delight” or something like that where there were some older boisterous teens laughing and having fun. The kind of fun and freedom I hoped to experience one day.
The next morning we continued west. I was still hoping for California. No one was saying anything different so my hopes weren’t shattered yet. We kept getting flats on the boat trailer off and on into the middle of Arizona. That’s when Buss decided to go back to that little town in Oklahoma. I was unaware that he had checked it out and talked to some business people while we spent the night there. He must have thought about it for two states and decided that is where he wanted to start a new life. Build a meat market and live right next to it in a mobile home. My hopes shattered.