The week I graduated from high school in May 1970, I was invited to take a trip up to Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania. There was a slight catch to it, the trip wasn’t going to pay much or maybe nothing at all. But all expenses were paid for. There were five of us traveling together. Pat Taylor, a MF school classmate, year older than me, Kenny and Vicki Jackson, a gal by the name of Martha Rucker and Me.
Pat and I were making the trip just to help transfer vehicles, but the other three were moving there to be employed with the real estate developer, American Realty Group. They had moved into Texas about three years before and bought a bunch of land for a development on Lake Travis that became known as Briarcliff.
With that development being built out and finished up, the next place they were headed was to Eastern Central Pennsylvania. Kenny Jackson was going to be involved the construction of the new roads and utilities, while Vicki and Martha were going to work in the office. All three had been working here for American Realty.
Our convoy pulled out about 8:00 o’clock in the morning. Kenny and Vicki were riding together in their pickup, pulling a trailer. I was driving a pickup and pulling a U-Haul trailer and Pat was driving an Electra 225 Buick, pulling a 2 horse trailer with a pair of horses in it. These 2 units belonged to one of the executives with the company. He was flying up. Martha was driving her car, a new convertible Mustang.
Pat or I neither one had ever met Martha. She was a very attractive gal in her mid 20’s and she was …….. well pretty dang top heavy. She got sprung on us that morning, we didn’t know about her coming along until we showed up. If we had any doubts about going, being in the company of Martha for the next few days certainty made things seem much better.
The hot May sun was already beaming down that morning so Martha broke out with a bikini top on and the Mustang’s top down. This girl was going to add to her tan while making the trip. I’m thinking Martha had not figured on how hot the sun was going to be. When we made our first stop up north of Waco, this girl was already sporting a pair of very ample and very red bosoms. This made her cover up and stay that way for the rest of the trip. In fact it put her in a less than cheerful mood for the rest of the trip, which for Pat and me was a bit disappointing.
All the vehicles had CB Radios in them, except Martha’s. So we had to keep an eye on her to be sure we didn’t get separated from her. We tried to sandwich her between us but in heavy traffic that wasn’t always easy. I think she was more concerned with her condition south of her chin than with driving. We stopped for the first night in Muskogee, Oklahoma at a Holiday Inn. We tied the horse up where they could graze on the side lawn of the hotel. One of the most popular songs of the day was Okie from Muskogee, which made stopping there seem all the much better.
We all got up early the next morning to head out. Martha wasn’t as fast to jump up and get ready to roll as the rest of us, but we couldn’t run off and leave her, so that was a source of a little annoyance. We all had our maps marked up, so had a pretty good idea where we were going, except Martha. I’m not sure she had done much map reading before.
We made it on up to Terra Haute, Indiana, where we stopped that night. The next morning we headed on toward Indianapolis. That place was a zoo. It was the Indie 500 week and there were more dang cars everywhere than any of us could imagine, but we made it on through and by late in the evening our caravan pulled into Schuylkill Haven. We were all exhausted.
American Realty had purchased a property than included a hotel, bar and restaurant that they would make into their offices, housing for workers and a place to bring in prospective buyers after the development got underway. Part of the deal for Pat and me was to eat and drink anything we wanted and to stay on just as long as we desired. A chance to see the area.
We were bunking together, as we had the whole trip. It was a Thursday night. After going in and stretching out on our beds for a little while, we all got together for dinner. Pat and I weren’t bashful about eating at that point in our lives.
Afterwards we headed to the bar, which was pretty well a private club of people connected to American Realty. To make the most of our experience we decided to drink the local beer from that area. The bartender told us Yuengling Beer was it. We tried to drink all they had in the place. There was no closing time. Somehow, in the early morning hours of Friday morning we ended up in our rooms. the room was equipped with a window type air conditioner unit, that was stuck through the wall instead of a window. It was mounted right over the head of Pat’s bed. I remember that it was about like a refrigerator in that room but we kept the blankets pulled up and were sleeping good. Sometime just after the sun was up and the room was well illuminated, that AC unit must have kicked on with a jolt, the front plastic cover jarred loose and fell and the corner struck Pat, leaving a big V cut in the middle of his forehead.
When I came awake, Pat was wailing and carrying on, his head covered in blood and thinking I had attacked him. I finally convinced him it wasn’t me and it had only been a freak accident. I went and got some bandages, while he held a rag on his head.
Between the Yuengling Beer, the long trip and Pat’s misfortune, we pretty well stayed in bed all day. By night time we were ready for more of anything, as long as it wasn’t more Yuengling Beer. By Saturday morning we felt even worse than we had the morning before. It was time to head home. We had seen enough of Pennsylvania, even though we had never left the Hotel.
American Realty had a Lear Jet and we had gotten to know the pilot and co-pilot while hanging out in the bar. They were heading down to Memphis later in the morning and could take us that far, then put us on a commercial flight from there to Dallas and on to Austin. That sounded like the best chance we were going to have to get back to Texas. We all four headed out to the airport, with Pat sporting a big bandaged head. I remember him having to carry his cowboy hat all day, because there was no way for him to wear it.
We each got buckled into our seats in the jet, for my first plane ride and I’m sure Pat’s too. Now that’s the way to experience a first plane ride. We hit the end of that runway, and the pilot pulled up on that thing and it felt like we were in a missile going straight up. He level off and a short time later we were already landing in Memphis. The pilots made all the arraignments for us two country bumpkins for our next flight and wished us well.
When we were on the plane headed to Dallas it occurred to us that it was going to be late by the time we got into Austin and we hadn’t made arraignments to have someone pick us up. Can you imagine how neither of us were very worldly.
I got up to go back to the restroom and found some familiar faces. Three boys I’d gone to school with in Jollyville and their parents, the Lippold’s, were returning to Austin from the funeral of the kids grandparent. When we got to Dallas we made a plan with them to ride up to Georgetown, where they had since moved. From there we could catch a ride with Pat’s mom and dad, Liz and Charley Taylor. They were in Georgetown where Charley was announcing the rodeo.
We actually arrived there just shorty before the rodeo was over and rode in the back of Charlie’s pickup. I think we both sleep every mile of the way home that night. We had been on a five day odyssey and were ready to be home.
As for the Lippold’s, I’ve kept up with them throughout the years. They had operated a home and treatment facility in Jollyville for troubled children, called the Merridell School.
Bobby, the younger boy is a Harbor Pilot in Corpus Christi that bring the big ships in and out of port. Gary the older son, was instrumental in taking the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally from a small unorganized group of riders to the huge event that it has become over the past 25 years. He turned part of his mother’s family ranch outside of Sturgis into the Glencoe Resort and Campground, a very big part of the Sturgis experience. Greg, the one my age is up north somewhere enjoying retirement, I think.
That turned out to be a trip of a lot of firsts for me. I remember it very fondly.