I could hardly contain my happy emotions when my parents announced we would be spending vacation time traveling to western states and settling in Phoenix, Arizona, until spring. As a 12-year-old girl in 1947 who had never been outside the Ohio border, well, it was beyond wonderful news. What a Christmas this will be!
In August, we moved from the farm, attached a Continental house trailer to our new Buick and headed for Chicago on Route 66. Gas was 30 cents a gallon, and the speed limit was 40 mph!
My journal was being filled with “never seen before” highlights, and by the time we reached Denver the landscape had drastically changed from flat farmland to mountain ranges, larger cities, and winding roads. Everywhere we ventured seemed like a whole new world of variety.
In 1947, Phoenix was not large enough to get lost in. We found a trailer park with a restaurant and during the day drove to see this special wonderland. Glendale, nearby as far as the eye could see, as it is today, is known for its vegetables and citrus groves, fields of fruit and grape arbors. The fields were dotted with water sprinklers. There were irrigation ditches alongside the roads — it all resembled a picture postcard as I tried to put it all on paper, not to miss any important detail. The weather offered a dry heat, and with the car windows down, the aroma of soil, water and vegetation was intoxicating.
We were fortunate to see old-fashioned farm trucks and workers as they were gathering in some crops and loaded the crates. Processing buildings were nearby. I quickly realized how beneficial Ohio crops were, as well as southwestern farming, to feed our country’s population.
I was fascinated seeing Indians in their traditional clothing. Many had roadside booths selling blankets, rugs, baskets and jewelry they proudly made.
Traveling out of town was desert displaying every kind of cactus. It was a mystery to my young mind how such beautiful plants grew in sand, and yet survived. There were birds, bugs and desert critters that were intriguing, but I kept my distance.
Back in town were tiny grocery stores, vegetable and fruit markets, which were under tents. Many different nationalities of people, and it was a time of peace.
How much I appreciate my parents deciding at that time to explore parts of our country. It was truly a Merry Christmas, and it has lived in my memory almost 70 years. Happy year of 1947.
Lila Rose Roszman