Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, Spring 1932
The acrid smell of burning oil and exhaust is what he remembered the most. It left a bitter taste in the back of his mouth and made him cough.
“Stop acting out, Bobby,” his older brother Merle warned. “Or else…”
He never finished his threat because by then their mother had turned around in her seat and was giving them THE LOOK.
When his parents told him that they were loading up the Model A and heading west to Washington State, Bobby was excited. At 5, he was always ready for an adventure.
But now, he was bored. And hot. And hungry.
Everything that hadn’t been sold or given away was packed into the Model A. Or tied to the top, covered with a tarp. Bobby and Merle were jammed in among the boxes and pots and pans. There was no room to move or stretch or swing their arms. No room for small boys to be boys.
“Are we there yet?” Bobby asked for the thousandth time.
“No,” his father replied. Clarence wasn’t one for talking, or for the incessant questions of bored boys with no patience.
The Model A huffed and puffed and struggled over the mountain passes. The Rockies were huge and majestic, but their power was lost on the Swensons. They were just another obstacle to overcome.
With a pop and a bang, the truck swerved sharply and lurched to the left. Sighing, Clarence braked, turned off the engine, and climbed slowly down to the road. Another flat tire. They were averaging two a day. Clarence wasn’t sure he had enough rubber scraps and tar for patches to make it all the way to the west coast. They had no money for new tires.
Bobby and Merle clambered out of the truck to play with sticks and rocks on the side of the road while Clarence patched the tire. They’d have to wait for the tar to dry before setting out again. He looked at the sky.
“At least is isn’t raining,” he said. “Cecil, set out some food. We’ll take our lunch while we wait.”