Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

We Were Crawling Through a White-Out . . .

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imagesD40MGR1V. . . between Detroit and Chicago on our way to our new home in San Diego when we heard about the massive Sylmar earthquake 45 years ago.

We’d been on the road a couple of hours so it was about 9 a.m. Tuesday when the first tidbits about the temblor interrupted the car-radio reports on the weather and traffic conditions. Our search for the next highway rest-stop became more intense because we wanted to wait out the snowstorm and discuss whether we really wanted to continue.

After all, we had stumbled into several hurdles since we tried to rip out our Canadian roots and transplant ourselves on the Left Coast. The earthquake might have meant to be our final warning.

This was after we had torn out the transmission of the family flivver four days earlier. We had planned to haul a trailer with our goods across country but our two-door hardtop decided against it just as we were approaching the Ambassador Bridge linking Canada and United States at the southern edge of Windsor and Detroit. Fortunately, it happened on the Canadian side and the garage we used over the years back in Windsor, Ontario, knew us, recognized our problem when we made a quick panic phone call, hauled everything to his locale and worked over the weekend to get us road-worthy again.

He even towed the loaded U-Haul trailer to our neighbor’s, who also came to our rescue and let us – three adults (my brother drove his VW bug down with us) and three kids — camp with them for the weekend. In between partying and panic attacks, we unpacked our belongings, returned the trailer, acquired several boxes and repacked our stuff, and arranged for a moving company to pick it up and deliver it to the address we would give them as soon as we settled. (It got here a bit more than a month after we arrived.)

The hiatus did give me the opportunity to drop back into The Detroit News to pick up my farewell check instead of having them mail it to me.

We finally pulled into a roadside diner stop a few miles short of Chicago. We couldn’t see it from the road but the kids saw a parking lot packed with vehicles, so we pulled in. Over some cups of coffee and assorted eats, we crowded around the TV set with the horde of other travelers to catch the latest on the California quake. And we wondered if our move to the West Coast was meant to be.

But the kids – in their tweens — were upbeat and undeterred about taking up a new life in the environs of Hollywood and Disneyland and surfers so we waited until the snowstorm subsided, topped off the gas tank and were back on the road before noon.

We got shafted that night by a motel owner in Lee’s Summit just outside St. Louis. He recognized us as refugees fleeing the frigid north for southern comfort and fleeced us for our rooms. It taught us to just walk away from the desk when given a price. That brought an immediate discount and, after a bit more haggling, the cost would to fit our budget. After all, this was February and most of these digs were empty.

The problems and perils we’d tumbled over moved quickly into the backs of or minds as we slipped into the adventure of sliding along route 66. The Golden State was still here when we arrived so I bought a short-sleeved shirt to wear when I walked into my new job at the San Diego Union on President’s Day.

– 30 –

 

 

 

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

February 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm

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