My dad likes to drive. He drove truck on the weekdays (as I have noted), and come the weekend he loved taking us on outings in the family car.
He also likes Hudsons. First there was the 1949 Hudson Supersix, then the 1950 Hudson Commodore 8 – always used cars by the time we had them, of course. The Commodore was the one that I remember the best. In the back seat – kid territory – there was a wide drop down arm rest for adults, which was just wide enough for a child to sit comfortably on. This was usually occupied by my sister, the youngest and shortest of the tribe. My brother and I were to either side of her. There was ample room. No car seats or seatbelts to restrain (or protect) us.
Sunday was the usual day of the week for these family outings. Mom would pack a picnic lunch; dad would load us into the car and we would set off for a drive around the county or even farther.
My view took in what was on the right side as we moved forward down the road. The wind through the open window beside me, made popping noises that I heard and felt against my cheek. I imagined a throng of photographers setting off a barrage of flashbulbs all focused on my childish profile. It was a Walter Mittyesque daydream of fame.
Lunch usually marked the extent of our journey for the day. From there we would begin our trek back home. Not always by the same route.
I remember one occasion following along the bed of a canyon and paralleling a river and a set of railroad tracks. It all looked like a scene out of a western. A freight train was ahead of us, going the same direction. And we were gaining on it.
As we pulled abreast of the caboose we could see the conductor waving at us. We waved back.
My dad stepped up the pace and we were soon beside the engine. I scanned the horizon ahead, nervous that there might be a crossing. There wasn’t. The engineer let off two blasts on the whistle in salute. We again waved and my dad honked twice in return. Then the mighty eight cylinder pulled us ahead and away from the train.
Dad had a date with Mom to see Jimmy Garner as Bret Maverick. And we had a date with our beds, as the pale rising moon tried to keep up.