Rt 80 east

We took Route 80 east when we left Markham. Headed east because we had read books about Stamford Connecticut, rated in the top three of the top ten, seemed like a good place to start as any other. We knew nothing about it other than what we read. The description, written by professional wordsmiths, gave us visions of a progress city with lots of opportunities.

Being from Springfield, Illinois, the middle of corn and soybeans country, we were use to seeing big fields of tall corn and big cows. The further east we drove, the corn stock seemed smaller and the cows thinner.

Living in central Illinois, even if you’re black, you had a sense of cornfields. You could not go very far without seeing one. If you worked in state government, which most people did in Springfield, you had conversations with farmer who talked about crops, bitched about the weather and their kids. We laughed as we talked about not seeing any fertilizer commercials anymore.

Carol kept a dairy of places, events and spending. Even though we didn’t have much money we had faith we would find jobs before our money ran out.

We drove to Ohio before we stopped at a cheap hotel. I wasn’t ready to stop. I was into the driving, but Carol got tired for me.

We hit the road at 11:50 AM, drove to Toledo Ohio and had breakfast. At Youngstown, PA we got gas. Stopped at Holiday Inn in Dubois, PA. The food in Ohio and PA didn’t taste very good to us and the service was slow.

I think it was there we had our first realization of being away from friends and family. Eight o’clock in the evening, she asked me what did I hear? I didn’t hear anything. We started laughing. The first time we had went two days without hearing a phone ring.

On the road Carol said she had never seen so many big trucks in so many colors move so fast. They whizzed past us. She asked if they knew the speed limit. I told her what was important to them, was time. That was what their money depended on. Speed was the only way to get more time, more money.

We had a CB radio that plugged into the cigarette lighter along with a magnetize antenna you put on the roof of the car. CB’s were the highway’s communication link. You don’t realize the number of people that are on the airwaves until you spend time out on the road.

Truckers have CB conversations like they are in the same room with you. They talk about everything, the weather across the country, how to by-pass state weighting stations, what they had to eat and what their wives and girlfriends did or didn’t do. No one uses their real names on the air, they have handles. Airwave names, that most of the time are reflective of who they want people to think they are, like Grey fox, wild man, hoochy momma, farm boy and the like.

Carol like to listen to the cb traffic. It was a new and different language to her. She kept hearing women saying what milepost or exit the commercial beaver house was parked. She finally asked what the women where talking about. I laughed. They were broadcasting where the camper was parked where women applied one of the oldest trades.

Her face flushed. “You mean there are women who travel the highways doing that?” She asked.

“Men on the road don’t stay in one place very long, they are always on the move. So, houses of pleasure on the road must be mobile like their customers.”

“Well, I’ll be. Commercial beaver, I’ve never heard that term before.” She said.

We encountered large thunderstorms few miles out of Danville, PA in the mountains. The rain fell in a torrid down fall causing everything disappeared outside the car’s window, including the hood of the car. It was so bad, cars pulled off the road. Carol wanted to stop and pull off the road. The drenching rain and speeding trucks whipping the driving rain up from the road scared her. I followed the trucker’s lead and kept driving but slower. After about forty-five minutes of creeping through the downpour, the sky cleared up and the sun came out.

We were a few miles from Stroudsburg PA when the front of the car started wobbling side-to-side. The car shook violently whenever I went over ten miles an hour. I pulled off the road and checked the wheels, looked under the hood. I could not see anything that would cause the car to wobble so hard. A state trooper pulled up behind us. I told him how the car was acting. We both looked at the wheels and under the hood. Neither one of us saw anything that could causing the problem. He said there was gas station at the next exit that repaired cars and they should be able to find and fix the problem.

I drove slow, as slow as when we were caught in the drenching in the mountains. The car shook worst than before. I had a difficult time turning and controlling the steering wheel. As we pulled up to the gas station, there was a man standing outside smoking a cigarette. His eyes got big and the cigarette fell from his mouth as he watched us wobbled into the station. When we got out of the car he said he could believe his eyes. The left front tire was wobbling side to side. He had never seen anything like it before.

We had lost three tire lugs off the wheel. Only two lugs, next to each other, were holding the tire on the wheel. The gas station didn’t stock Peugeot replacement parts. In fact they had never seen a Peugeot. We had to look in the yellow pages for the nearest Peugeot dealer, which was in New Jersey. Thank goodness the station did have some metric lugs that fit. They were plain tire lugs not the chrome-plated lugs on the other tires, but they would hold the tire onto the wheel to get us to the car dealer and that’s all we cared about.

Only later did we realize that you don’t go driving around America in a Peugeot. Most people had never heard of one. We were very lucky to find a dealer close. I think there is less than one dealership per state. With all the fast hard driving and bad weather we had been through we had to be blessed that nothing happened to us.

Getting through New York was quite an experience. Ran into a two-hour traffic jam about three or four miles before George Washing Bridge. It was hot, the smell of gasoline and diesel fumes was overbearing. People, were peeing on the side of the road. We had the CB on listening to the truckers. They were saying to watch out the Mexican 500 would start when they open the bridge. When the traffic started moving, cars filled with Mexicans sped over highway embankments and dodged dangerously between cars. To this day I don’t understand why there were no accidents the way they zoomed around cars.

We could see the Empire State Building outline through smog/mist. I asked Carol if she wanted to go into New York and see some sights? She was not interested in seeing any more of New York. She said the only way she would see New York would be in a tank

J Publications, Inc. 2013