Sentimental Journey

There used to be a ballad with the name of Sentimental Journey.

As in any journey it has to begin somewhere and, naturally, this begins on the campus of Syracuse University.  I enclose a plan map of S.U. that I found in my old yearbook.

Plot Plan of S.U. in 1950s

Plot Plan of S.U. in 1950s

The occasion for this journey was Marge’s planned trip to be with her mother in Cornwall during the break.  There was passenger train service then, and she was going to take a train home.  First she had to catch a bus to get to the station.

So, to make a favorable impression I said “I can take you right down from your dorm to the station if you like.”  We agreed on a departure time and that was that.  Or so I believed then.  The Plymouth was pretty reliable but it did have one problem.  The problem was that the gas gauge was a bit unpredictable when it got low, and to add to that, I had pushed things a bit on filling up due to running a bit short of cash.

You guessed it, the car wouldn’t start when I needed it.  There was only one solution to the problem and it was somewhat drastic.  Starter fluid in a can was not invented then, and the way to get it started was to make sure that you had at least a gallon or two of gas in the tank.   Then, you had to go to a pharmacy and buy an 8 oz. can of ether, unscrew the top, raise the car hood and pour some raw ether down the throat of the carburetor.  Then, get back in, leaving the hood up, say a quick Hail Mary and attempt a start.  Success!!!

However……..By the time I got over to the dorm, it was too late and Marge was fuming.  As I recall she was wearing a camel colored skirt and a similar colored cardigan, and they were almost on fire.  “WELL, NOW YOU’VE DONE IT.  I MISSED THE TRAIN.  WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO…DRIVE ME DOWN??

I said “Sure, give me a few minutes to get some clothes and call home, and I”ll pick you up.  So started the journey.

The trip was about 230 miles, and in those days, no Interstate so a long slow trip.  Marge agreed to be navigator while I drove.  About halfway there on the Delaware river is a little town named Hancock.  Marge had grandparents and a great uncle living there and told me she wanted to stop for a short visit to see her grandparents.  Fine with me.

I parked on the road and as it was a nice day, was sort of reclining on the bumper of my car while I waited.  Then, what to my wondering eyes should appear but Alan, a fellow resident of the hovel we both lived in.  Alan was in the Forestry college.  Alan and his parents also lived in Hancock and I explained how I happened to be in town. Alan invited me to stop on the way back and spend a couple nights with his family.

While Alan I were chatting, Marge left her grandparents and was walking down to the car when she spotted Alan and I sort of goofing off together.  Alan and I got a rather cool  “Hello” and Marge and I started off down rt. 17 to finish the final leg to Cornwall.  Now it’s “Who was that you were talking with, you don’t know anybody here and you act like you have all but forgotten me.”

I had spoiled things again.  Here was this special town that only she knew about and I had to just up and visit with the first person who walked by.  Or so it seemed.  We got the episode resolved and finished the drive to Cornwall.  What would be about a 4 hr. trip today took about 7 then, including the stop, lunch break, filling up, speed traps in little burgs, etc. etc.

Finally around 4 p.m. or so we reached Marge’s home.  To tell the truth,Marge did look tired and travel weary when we got out and her Mom came out to greet us.

Marge: Hi Mom, this is Bob, I’ve told you about him.

Mom: Hello Bob, its good to meet you.  Hope you had a decent trip down.

Me: Hi Mrs. Sutherland, it’s good to see you too.  We made it here, that’s what counts and it feels good to get out of the car.

So, I stayed there that night and I think the next as well, and then back via Hancock to S.U.

When school started again, Marge and I were talking about the visit and she told me that her Mom told her ” Bob must really love you, because you looked like Hell.”  Travel weary yes, and I did love her.  I don’t have a photo from that exact time, so I am enclosing a photo taken in May 1958.  I was going to some sort of a school engineer’s dinner and of course invited Marge.  She had a camera and one of her dorm mates snapped this photo.

Marge and I on our way to the Engineer's Ball

Marge and I on our way to the Engineer’s Ball

All in all, it was, and still is, a Sentimental Journey.


About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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