One thing that I need to talk about is my father. He was a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, when it came to Education. I still don't know a lot of what he did. He died in 1999. But, one thing I did know is that every summer, we would go to either Ridgecrest, NC or Glorieta, NM for conferences, which my father would lead. Both places were conference centers for the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1958, we were scheduled to go to Glorieta for our vacation and his work.
As we knew we were going to Glorieta, my parents thought it would be a good idea and visit some places out West. My brother and I loved westerns on TV, and our favorite cowboy was Roy Rogers. As it turned out, my father knew him or knew someone who knew him, so he wrote to Roy to see if he could bring us to meet him in California. The plans were set. About a week before we were to leave New Orleans for New Mexico and points beyond, my father got a letter from Roy apologizing for the fact that he was being called away and wouldn't be at his ranch when we would get there. He did send 2 autographed pictures for me and my brother. Mine has Roy on Trigger and says "To Walter, Happy Trails, Roy Rogers and Trigger". My brother got a picture of Roy's dog Bullet and the jeep. Mine was better, which made my brother jealous. I still have mine. I don't think my brother still has his.
As we were heading toward New Mexico, we stopped at a gas station in Texas that had separate bathrooms for whites and "coloreds". I had never seen that before, because New Orleans was a very inclusive city. I remember asking Daddy why that was, and he explained to me that some people saw a difference in skin color. I was brought up to treat everyone the same. I never forgot that.
We stayed in New Mexico for a week, while Daddy had his conferences. Santa Fe was close by, so I got to see some Indians. Also, we went to Taos, and I smelled the best apple pie cooking in outdoor ovens. I love apple pie to this day. One thing I loved to be around as a child were big trucks. They were doing some construction at Glorieta, so there was a big piece of equipment they were using. I was looking at it, and some guy took my picture with another man beside me. That picture ended up in some Southern Baptist literature. I was famous for about 15 minutes.
We also went to Kansas and Dodge City. I went to Boot Hill. We went to Las Vegas and saw the lights. Daddy wanted to cross Death Valley before it got too hot, so we left Las Vegas at 4am. It was hot anyway. We had an air conditioner in the car that sat on the hump between Mother and Daddy. That is where I sat too. My job was to get the ice off of the vent of the AC. Since I loved ice, that made it fun.
We got to Los Angeles and spent a few days there. We saw Grauman's Chinese Theatre and put our hands and feet in the cement prints of the stars. The main event though was Disneyland. We rode the rides and got sick on some. I am partial to getting sick on anything that turns, whether it be a car or a ride. My parents were prepared. It was a lot of fun to be at Disneyland. We were staying at a motel just off of the grounds of the park. I wanted to watch the fireworks at night, but it was also the time that Lawrence Welk came on the TV, so my parents took me inside to watch this program. I got a bad headache watching this champagne music, and to this day if I see him on TV, my head will hurt. So, we didn't get to see much of the fireworks.
We then left Los Angeles and went to Yosemite, where my brother and I had a snowball fight in June. We then went to San Francisco. I was looking forward to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was shrouded in fog when we went over it, so that was a letdown.
One other stop on our trip was the Grand Canyon. It was very cold in the mornings and hot in the afternoons. We had been to Carlsbad Caverns, where it was cold in there, but the Grand Canyon was both. My brother thought about pushing me over the side. He was probably still mad about the pictures from Roy Rogers.
We had a good trip to the western United States. I was five and didn't know how blessed I was. I just thought it was normal. So, please don't think that I am bragging in these blogs. It was just what we did.