Feb 23, 2017

What Were You Doing 50 Years Ago?

What Were You Doing 50 Years Ago?

I was driving back to Chicago from Norfolk, VA, getting ready for Marine boot camp.

Don Marenson and Craig in the Model A
I graduated from High School in Jan 66. I sold my fine 1930 Model A Ford convertible with rumble seat to finance my next vehicle. 

I worked for one year as a volunteer social worker inner city of Norfolk, VA. I used the money from the sale of the Model A to buy a Honda 50 motorbike, which I then traded for a 56 Mercury Station Wagon on its last legs.

I tried to give my old 56 Mercury to my coworkers Pam and Meryle. They did not want it so I drove it home. I did not think it would make it all the way to Chicago, so I thought that when it died, I would leave it by the road and hitchhike the rest of the way home.

The tolls required for the bridges leaving Norfolk to the north and west always annoyed me, so I traveled south initially to avoid the tolls for my last trip out of town. I took it easy to try to get the car to survive as long as possible. The heat was out, and this was in February, so it was pretty cold. I kept putting more clothes on. The first night I slept in the mountains in the back of the car. The next morning I washed up in a mountain stream waterfall in the snow - beautiful and invigorating.

On the second night I got caught in a snow storm near Louisville. The bald tires of the Mercury did not work well, and I ended up spending the night in a rest stop.

On the third day I got to Purdue University, where I thought I would visit a friend. I knew three people at Purdue. I had no idea how big the campus was - I had thought I would just drive around and find them. And that is what happened. I saw Lynne Carlson, a girl I knew very slightly from high school. She was a nice person,  very smart, and a cheerleader. I asked her if she knew where Bob Stevenson was. She did, and she jumped in the car to take me there.

I had not shaved or bathed properly for three days, I had three sets of clothes on, with each pair of trousers shorter than the one underneath. I had been smoking cigars, and the old car reeked. She was horrified that she had gotten into the car, but gamely took me to Stevenson’s fraternity. I offered her a ride home, but for some reason she preferred to walk.

I visited with Stevenson for a time, then continued on my way. The car was throwing oil rapidly now and I needed to put in two or three quarts every 50 miles. I spent my last dollar on several quarts of old reprocessed oil, and a gallon of gas, and limped into Chicago with both tanks dry.

I tried to sell the old car, but found few takers. I was going to junk it, but a local dealer bought it from me for $20.00.

More about the Model A at:


More about my time in Norfolk, VA


More about my time in the Marines.