A Memorable Trip Across The Desert~ Part 1

23 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites




Our last day in San Diego was December 30, 1957. DiVoran and I were in our shorts and tee shirts loading a 4’x 6’ trailer and our 1950 Mercury Sedan with everything we owned. As usual, I had waited until the last minute to finish the last of the packing and we were working up a sweat trying to get on the road before dark. A thick fog rolled in around 5:00 PM, which made for eerie working conditions. As it turned out, it was almost midnight before we left San Diego, headed for “Route 66” and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The U.S. Navy had given me ten days leave before I was to ship out for Japan, and I was taking DiVoran to live with her parents, and attend beauty school while I was gone.1                                               

The first few hours passed without a hitch, but as we got into the Arizona Mountains, the outside temperature became frigid and the temperature gage in the car crept over toward the “Cold” peg. Evidently, the previous owner of our Mercury had removed the thermostats from the cooling system, and I didn’t know it. Guess what?   No heater. We started covering up with everything we could lay our hands on, but were still freezing cold. As we entered the desert, on the eastern side of the mountains, I noticed the temperature gage had started moving off the “Cold” peg, and was slowly climbing toward “Normal”. That was not a good indication. That’s when I started looking for one of the many “Trading Post/Filling Stations” that were spaced at intervals along Route 66 back in those days.



Lucky for us, we came upon a “Filling Station” just before the needle reached the “Hot” peg. We stopped to see what the problem was, but the station was closed. We were on our own. Here we were out in the middle of the desert; it was pitch dark, and we hadn’t seen a car on the road (going either way) for miles, and now, no mechanic to help diagnose the problem. Did I mention it was freezing cold?   Well, once I lifted the hood, it didn’t take long to figure

out what was wrong. One of the two water pumps had sprung a leak. What could we do?

The station had a water hose that we used to fill the radiator, and we always carried two full “emergency” water bags slung over the front bumper.




—–To Be Continued—–


One Response to “A Memorable Trip Across The Desert~ Part 1”

  1. divoran09 April 24, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Bill and I don’t travel much together anymore, but I must say he keeps my car in tip-top condition, and I’m deeply grateful. I don’t know what I should about cars, but I’ve never had to, so I’ve put my mind to things that are more fun for me–that’s another reason to be grateful–the freedom I have because I’m married to him.


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