Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Down a Dirt Road

The Johnson family was traveling to Colorado to see  Great Aunt Molly, my grandfather’s sister. Mom Johnson kept a diary of their trip.

Their trip west was not just about the trip but also about the life and times of Neff Road. Instead of a hotel, they camped. They fished for food, hunted for berries. One town in which they stopped was the small town of Arnold, Missouri. The then population was six. Now the town boasts a population of 20,000. They passed homes still using a well with the bucket on a pulley. Few roads were paved. Some were dirt.

I discovered the year of the trip west from a notation she made when they stayed in a camp in the center of the town Breckinridge Missouri. They stopped at the drug store and heard the returns of the Dempsey/Sharky fight that took place in 1926. They traveled on 5 or 6 gallons of gas between stops. Rainy weather made for pushing the car when it got stuck. The tent was set up daily and torn down the next morning. Meals were cooked over a fire or picked up in town and eaten along the road. They passed through an area alive with grasshoppers 3” long that clung to the car. Some days they made 250 miles.

I love this line: "Monday morning the kids packed a box of grub, took a stove and dishes and started up Hubbard Creek for the day."

Eighty-four years ago this was our country. Neff Road was a dirt road. Horses still pulled plows, and children went to one room schools. I remember when the county came to pave Neff Road. The hot tar bubbled beneath the summer sun. We children ran down the road popping the bubbles of tar then returning home with black spots on our feet. How quickly we have gone from the above day to this age of technology. We have come a long way. A long way from a rich history that began down a dirt road.

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