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July 4th memories

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Doug's (W2DR) reminiscence got me thinking of an Independence Day many years ago.


Back in 1977 I was in grad school, and had a friend named Karen.  Karen was driving an old Buick, and her dad agreed it was time to upgrade. Now Karen (and I) were in New York, and dad was in Minnesota. Karen was to drive the old car back "home," dad would buy her a new one, and she'd drive the new(er) one back to Long Island.  Well, it was summer.  My USNR training wasn't for several weeks, and I didn't have anything else to do. Besides, I'd never been to Minnesota.  Moreover, my girlfriend Deb was in training at the Army base in San Antonio TX, so I figured I could visit her, too.  So I offered to keep Karen company and share the driving on the 1300 mile trip to St.Cloud, MN. My offer was enthusiastically accepted.


The day of our departure was set for July 5.  On July 4 I went to a holiday barbecue at my Aunt and Uncle's, then went to Karen's apartment to be ready for an early start.  Not a quiet night!  The fireworks (illegal in this state) kept up for hours, and someone had poured an accelerant on the road and set it on fire.


The trip west was a challenge.  An incredible heat spell gripped much of the country.  But we safely arrived in St. Cloud.  I met her parents, shopped for a newer car with her dad, and went to a parade in Sauk Center (Main St. in Sinclair Lewis' novel).  Karen's dad was a Shriner, and drove in with precision go-cart team in the parade.


Then I flew down to San Antonio.  The plane had a stop in Des Moines, where the runway had buckled from the heat.


I loved the visit to San Antonio.  The Alamo, the Governor's house, the River Walk.  While in San Antonio the northeast US had a massive power outage which put the region in the dark for hours.


I flew back to Minnesota, and Karen and I drove back to NY in her new, 1975 AMC Hornet.  The hot spell continued, and cars were overheating and breaking down. Took us hours to cross the George Washington Bridge, fighting with a balky, unfamiliar car with a tendency to vapor lock.


But we made it.


Karen and I just celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary.





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We parted amicably.  


We had been together for about six years; we met when I was on leave in the Navy and visiting some friends at my alma mater.


After release from active duty (I remained in the Reserves for a total of21 years)  I went on to graduate school.  Quite simply we outgrew each other.  The trip to San Antonio was the last attempt to make it work, and although we had a great time together, the spark had gone out.


Some years later she had married, and she and her husband visited us and joined us for dinner.  It was a pleasant afternoon and evening, and we parted as friends.  I've not heard from her in years.



7 hours ago, Rodger Pettichord said:

What happened to Deb?:(:)


4 hours ago, wolfko said:


That's what I am wondering too.


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