June 27, 1969: Barstow!

A rare interjection in this blog from 2020: Maw passed away last night, peacefully and at home. My brother Mike was there with other family. And because she kept driving us west 51 years ago, despite so many obstacles and hardships, I’m going to keep re-publishing these posts every day to honor her memory. A grand coincidence is that 51 years ago today, Mom did finally arrive in California, her Promised Land.

Got a good start thanks to the time changes. Drove through the desert all day. Reached Barstow about 4 and got a fancy ($4) tra-tel with pool, shade and showers, also rocks. Has been blowing hard ever since we reached Oklahoma.

Marge Binder, June 27, 1969

Mom calls the camp “fancy” and indicates she dropped 4-large for this TraTel. For me, at four years old, it must have been my first encounter with a portmanteau. Thank you Barstow for so much love!

I passed through Barstow every few months on working roundtrips from Santa Monica to Las Vegas back in the aughts. It was not a place where I ever stopped. I preferred Baker, with its almost rustic main drag and sky-high thermometer.

In revisiting Barstow for this 1969 travelogue, I have to admire that it was an original crossroads of the interstate system — Interstates 15 and 40, nee Rte 66 — as well as the gateway to the Mojave Desert and a number of military installations. Next time I pass through, I’ll let myself wax nostalgic for the place that treated Mom and her boys nice, if even for a night. But I probably won’t stop.

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