Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hair Raising Hair Pins On The Damn Boulder Dam Highway

January 23, 2014
   Thomas Charles has a birthday today. He is 31. Here he is with his grandfather, Allen P., on one of the Route 66 Fun Runs back in the early nineties. Picture was taken at Three Points (you can see three states, California, Nevada and Arizona) above Gold Road.

Allen P., Thomas Charles and the family '49 Ford

   Meanwhile, back to the 1955 train trip from Iowa to Kingman:

Hair Raising Hair Pins On The Boulder Damn Highway
   My grandmother Guess and her new husband Ernie Swafford met us at the Las Vegas Train Station in September of 1955. My mother had come for a two-week getaway from the snow and the sadness in Swea City. Ernie was a mysterious guy and claimed to have worked in "pictures." He smoked cigarettes in an FDR holder which made him look like a villain in a bad melodrama. He was always good to me but my mother didn't like him much. In her mind no one could replace her father.

The narrow cuts and steep grades on the approach to Boulder Dam (later styled as Hoover Dam).

   Anyway, Ernie was the designated driver on this trip. Unfortunately, he drove a stick shift in his GMC pickup, but he needed to borrow Bill Stockbridge's '55 Oldsmobile to come pick us up and drive us back to Kingman. Because of the foreign three-on-the-tree shifter on the Olds, Ernie struggled to shift and keep the car on the road and his cigarette in his mouth all at the same time. The upshot being we careened around all the narrow curves on the approach to Boulder Dam on the wrong side of the road. It was hair raising to say the least. He kept driving all over the road all the way across the dam and into Arizona. People were honking and screaming at us and pulling off to avoid a head on. It was one of the scariest road trips I have ever been on in my entire life. But, somehow, we made it to Kingman alive.

"I don't get ideas. I have them. The trick is to remember where I've put them."
—Brad Holland