Taking Some Heat from the Mother of all Fact Checkers

August 7, 2010 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Really, I should have seen it coming.

I recently wrote about our family road trip adventures and, in particular, the endless drive to Santa Fe.

And that’s when I got the phone call.

Mom in the 60s

“What about the denim shirts? How could you leave out that part of the story?”

My mother called to remind me that she spent the entire drive (when not refereeing arguments between the kids) embroidering denim shirts for my sister and me.

Ah, those embroidered denim shirts. They were all the rage at the time (I’m guessing late 70s?), and my sister and I just had to have them. I have to admit, I don’t remember my mother actually working on those during the drive – and OH, I can feel the guilt trip coming just for saying that – but I do remember the shirts.

Since I can’t find any photos of us wearing those shirts, I’ll substitute a much earlier creation of my mother’s: the matching Raggedy Ann dresses.

Raggedy Ann girls and brother


But according to my mother, shocking though it may be, the Embroidered Denim Shirt Omission wasn’t actually the biggest historical inaccuracy of that post. The real issue is that Santa Fe wasn’t nearly the worst family road trip we ever took.

That distinction goes to the Disneyland trip.


Hot Times in Disneyland

The timeframe: 1972-ish.

The season: Summer.

The route: Through the desert.

The weather:  Seriously? I have to spell it out for you?

I mentioned to my mother that I had photos from the Disneyland trip, but I had assumed that surely we didn’t actually drive to California.

Oh, but we did. For some reason, we had a brilliant plan to drive from El Paso, Texas (where we were living at the time) through the desert to San Diego and then up to Disneyland. In the middle of the summer. In the heat of the day.

I was about 4 at the time, so I only remember a few details about Disneyland. I remember the hot cement ledge in that photo up above. I remember complaining that it was too hot to sit on, and that’s why I’m sitting on my mother’s lap (and that must also be why my brother and sister look so unhappy).

I remember loving the “It’s a Small World After All” ride so much, that we went through it twice, but I wouldn’t dare go on the “scarier” rides.

The Magic Kingdom

What I don’t remember is the drive, the reason this trip is burned in my mother’s memory.

Driving through the desert in the middle of the day is apparently – news flash – a bad idea.

By the time we got to Blythe, California, three of the tires on the Ford station wagon finally gave in to the blistering heat, and we suddenly heard a distinct Pop! Pop! Pop!

My mother took the kids to a little coffee shop to get some ice cream and to “cool off” – it was about 85 degrees inside – while my dad stayed with the car at the gas station, listening to the attendant make helpful comments like, “No one drives through here during the day!”

To give you an idea of how hot Blythe is, today’s weather forecast notes:

“Sunny. Not as warm. Highs 100 to 105.”

Whew! A break in the heat! Only getting up to 105 today!

Blythe, California had never been on the family’s radar before. But after this trip, my mother says that every time they’d notice the weather report’s daily listing of the Hottest Place in the United States, it would be – you guessed it – Blythe.

And that, officially, was our worst family car trip.

And it only took a little mother’s guilt trip to get the facts right.

(And happy early birthday to mom, whose birthday is this Monday!)


Entry filed under: Don't Try This At Home, Family, Travel.

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