Pat Greer Remebers her Mother, Hiedi


I know a lot of parents today who do not think that they can take a small child a couple of miles to the baby sitter without a 6 passenger SUV. I also have friends who attempt to take family trips. They require a seat for each child, DVD players, loads of games, snacks, drinks and other entertainments.

I have a lot of memories of many, many, miles of travel through the US in a small Chevy with three kids in the back seat, without anything but  Mamas and Daddy’s imaginations. We played all kind of games – without the help of anything but our brains.

One of the first trips that I remember was to Oregon. We went to visit Aunt Isabel (Grandma Humphrey’s sister, I think). She lived in a huge white house with a yard that seemed as big as a park. Bobbie and I each had a bedroom to ourselves and on the bed was a beautiful doll, that was ours to keep. What a treat for a young girl. On the same trip, we stopped at a roadside stall and bought some cherries. They were very good. Mama warned us not to eat too many because we would get sick. We were traveling on a windy road, and guess what? We did. There was a little creek nearby and Bobbie and I were stripped, washed and redressed. No more cherries for a while.

We took a trip to Yosemite Park. I’m sure we went other places on that trip too, but what sticks in my mind was the bear. We had stopped along the road and were watching as tourists tossed food to the bears. They were begging, coming up to the cars and being pretty aggressive. I was standing in the back behind mama (my favorite way to travel) and the window was down. A big mama bear came up to the car, took offense at something I did, and reached in with her paw and gave me a big scrape across the top of my head. You could probably hear me scream all the way back to Arizona. Mama was trying to roll up the window and shoo the bear away. My scalp bled a little, hurt a lot, but quickly healed. I was left with a bit of a scar and a huge memory.

In 1942, we had planned a trip to Texas to spend Christmas with Tedda and family. The war started, but we decided to go anyway. How dad ever got all the stuff for 3 girls, he and mama, plus a large turkey packed in dry ice I’ll never know. He was a master at packing a car trunk. Malcom and Susan were very small babies at that time. We thought they were a lot of fun to play with. I remember George showing us a lot of Citrus trees and farm land. I guess I thought he owned it all, and had the impression they must be very rich. I have a memory of Dad and Uncle George tell of being down on the gulf and seeing what they thought was a German Submarine. Made the war real for us.

We went to California to see Uncle Harry and Aunt Vivian. I am not sure what the year was, but we went to downtown Los Angeles and saw this funny looking thing in the window of a large store. My first ever look at Television. On this trip (or another to see them) we decided to go on a “picnic” to Griffith Park. We had gone on lots and lots of picnics, but this was the first one I had gone to in a park. The roads were paved, there were lots of other people there, there were tables and places to cook. I thought it was very dumb to go on a “picnic” in such a place. Mama took us for a walk through an area where the trees and shrubs were all labeled so we knew what they were. She explained that to enjoy nature you didn’t really have to be all alone, that wherever there were plants and natural beauty there was enjoyment. I think that idea has been very important to me as the really wild parts of the world become fewer and fewer and more and more inaccessible to me personally. I still am able to get a great feeling of appreciation of nature no matter how many people are around.

One trip I will never forget was one that I did not take with Mama and Daddy. When I was around 11 or 12 (I think), I had a good friend who lived in Tempe. We traded visits every summer. One summer I had not been able to go see Nancy at all. One day Uncle Bob stopped by the house on his way back to Tucson. He had been up in the Prescott area working on some kind of Juniper eradication program. He agreed to take me to Tempe. I quickly threw stuff into my brand new suitcase, put it in the back of his truck and away we went. We did not go down White Spar through Yarnell and Wickenburg – oh no – we went out to Dewey (dirt roads all the way), Humbolt and then down Antelope Hill to the Valley (roughly like I-17 goes today). The road was all dirt, very washboardy, roughS and dusty. Uncle Bob drove like no one I had ever known. I swear he took every curve at 60 or more. Of course, there were no seat belts, air conditioning, or even anything to hold on to. Never so scared in all my life. I had to pee the entire trip, but wasn’t about to ask him to stop. When we finally got to Tempe, my suitcase was all scratched up from sliding around in the back of the pick-up.  I did not ever beg a ride with Uncle Bob again. Going home on that same trip was quite a different story. I still didn’t have a ride, so Nancy’s folks took me to Phoenix and put me on the train. It was called the “Pea Vine Train” because it wound its way back and forth, up and down the hills and mountains from Phoenix to Prescott. It took forever, but I was feeling very grown up to be on it all alone. I even had enough money to buy a Bacon/lettuce/Tomato sandwich and a coke.

There was one thing about traveling with Mama – she never did see a little two rut road leading off, god knows where, that she didn’t want to follow. There was always a great curiosity in her to find out where those ruts might lead. Apparently getting stuck, having car problems, or getting lost did not ever deter her. I recall one such adventure when we really did get lost. Bobbie and I had the bad habit of standing up in the back seat, hanging over either mama or daddy (will you kids sit down!!!!). On this trip I was quite concerned that we were not going to get out – and besides I was getting hungry. I finally declared to Bobbie that she could stand up and worry if she wanted, but I was going to sit down and worry from now on.