D.P. Maddalena Tags Shop

On the Road, Old School

08 February 2010


low tech writer

These essays are now also available in book form, printed on real paper


Road Trip

Ahh, the old-school road trip: a car, endless highway, conversation, one-radio-station-at-a-time-if-you-can-get-one-at-all …. America: pre-internet, pre-Discovery Channel, pre-cell phone laws, pre-DVD-player-in-the-minivan, pre-iPod, pre-media saturation. My dad was born in Cleveland during the depression, and worked toward his M.D. in the south. He’d never been Out West, and if he had tapped out www.tetoncam.com on his typewriter to get a look at where he was headed, he would have gotten a 404.

He tells me he had no idea what to expect when he set out from Florida to travel through the Pacific Northwest on a roundabout journey to Southern California. He’d graduated from medical school in Tennessee, done a few months of general practice “in Kentucky, helping ‘ol’ Doc Hay’”, then moved on to flight surgeon school in Pensacola, Florida, where he earned his Navy Wings right before he headed out on the Road Trip. Imagine seeing the above sight for the first time. Is it possible for our HD/3D/Imax generation to imagine what it would be like to see those mountains explode into view from inside a big iron giant of a car before most people had color TV? Think my dad is dreaming of his first color TV purchase in this picture? No.

My dad was a few years away from marriage, and on his way to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (the Marines ‘borrowed’ docs from the Navy) in southern Cal. He and his friend Jim Bone took the “scenic route” from Florida, via the Northwest, then on to El Toro. After that, they’d ship out to the Far East.

My dad served in Southeast Asia just before the Vietnam war began. When he came home to start a family and a medical practice, he got his honorable discharge, and the man who took his place was killed in action.

I really love that picture.