Dread was the word.
It best described my feelings whenever it was announced that we were going to drive up to my cousins’ house in Spokane. But it wasn’t their fault. We liked our cousins. We just didn’t like what we had to go through to get there.
We lived on Maxwell Avenue and Cedar street on the north side of Spokane. The property was right at the edge of a ridge that looked over the downtown area. And beyond downtown was the other hill upon which our cousins lived.
Come time to go, Dad loaded us up into the backseat of the 1953 Nash (which my father always cursed for having an inferior power plant). We made our way down to Monroe street and it was a straight shot from there. Straight down the hill to town and then up the other side.
The other side was our terror. The car made a “whump” as it hit the first incline and we were thrown back against the seat. And our father always made it worse as he would tease us with the exclamation that “hold on, we’re falling backwards.” As we looked forward out the front windshield, we could believe him for all we saw was sky.
The street leveled off at a cross street, but only momentarily, as another “whump” followed and the process repeated itself. And even then we weren’t out of the woods, a second cross street, a third incline and a third and final “whump.”
We arrived at my cousins with whitened knuckles.
Such are the fears of a child. Fears that were outgrown, then replaced by other more grown up fears.