Many people take trips across the country. Some follow old Route 66 as much as they can. A few do it in a Model A. But very few write a book about their adventures doing all three. So why did I decide to write this book which tells about two such trips?
The first trip was the one my Mother and Grandfather completed in 1934 on Route 66 from Grandville, Michigan to Rialto, California in the midst of the Great Depression. The second trip was our attemxpt to retrace their trip as closely as we could – also in a Model A – in 2017. In fact, we bought our Model A specifically for this trip.
During the 1934 trip, my Mother had kept a little journal of where they went, where they stayed, and how much money they spent – down to the last penny. That was the information I needed to retrace their trip. This was going to be a nostalgia trip big time.
Somewhere in the preparation phase, the thought crossed my mind to write about both trips and compare the routes and experiences we both had. As a former English teacher, I figured I knew how to write. So the writing shouldn’t be too difficult, and it wasn’t. It was just time-consuming.
Part of the incentive to tell both our stories involves passing down family history to the children and grandchildren. My mother had saved her little notebook for sixty-nine years until she passed on in 2003. I kept that notebook, thinking “someday” it would be nice to recreate that trip. Someday was getting closer to my life expectancy, so I knew it was getting to now or never.
Another part of the incentive to write a book about our trip came from my experience as a teacher of American history. How many valuable family stories have been lost because no one in the family felt the need or desire or record them? How much could we all learn about our history and culture by reading these stories? What was it like for Mom and Grandpa to witness the building of Boulder (Hoover) Dam? To look down into the chasm of the Grand Canyon? And to cross the Colorado River on the Cottonwood Aerial Ferry – held up by eight cables suspended two hundred feet above the surging waters?
For the sake of not only our own families but of Americans everywhere, we need to tell the stories. I hope you will enjoy ours.