We Go Cross Country

The first guy in the blurry video is Les.  The second guy with the afro sitting on the ground is me.  What year – I guess you’d have to ask Lester – but I’d figure 1972 more or less.

Here is the link to the first of several Lester posts about the Cross Country trip we took.  And when I say Cross Country – I mean we went further than even Jack went.

Yes – these are Lester’s memories of the cross-country and Canadian trips that summer.  Here are a few things that he left out:

* * *

In the last post, Lester talks about how he crashed our car (Yotan) into a trailer.  He left out a few details.  Yes, he was driving, and I was barely awake, but I clearly remember that he was speeding along the dark twisty road and pretending to be a racetrack announcer as he passed cars and making vroooom sounds.  He screamed just before hitting the trailer at a right-angle, and as my eyes popped open, all I saw was the headlights on the white trailer.  I put my feet up on the dashboard and covered my face.  If it hadn’t been a Delta 88, we would both be goners.  When he hit the trailer, a piece of metal trim from the trailer flew off, hit our front window, and continued on out the back window, missing us both by inches.

Lester wasn’t insured to drive the car, so when the police arrived, I had to sit in the back of the Utah State Police car and pretend that I had been driving and answer their questions.

The guy who stopped by to pick us up afterwards was speeding back to New Jersey – and as I remember it – he was going to stand trial for stabbing his wife.  He did carry a gun.  And he did force us to drive at top speed, from Utah to New Jersey.

We caused accidents wherever we went.  I think it was on the way to Detroit that I made a lane change without signaling (19 year old boys are the worst drivers) and a car in the next lane swerved and hit another car.  Lester and I just looked at each other and kept going.

In a suburb of Detroit – we were pulled over one night by several police cars.  When the officers approached, they were carrying automatic weapons.  We were told to get out of the car with our hands over our heads and the car was searched.  Turned out that they had us confused with some other desperados – and we were let go.

It’s true – that feeling we both had about the Canada part of the trip.  We never met such friendly people.  Not just the couple that picked us up but everyone we met up there.  And I’ll never forget the ferry ride we took to Nova Scotia at night.  I wrote a poem on the ferry, comparing the stars to jewels in a necklace.  Or maybe Lester wrote it.  But that whole part of the trip was the best part for me.  The only bad thing that happened was that we were waiting for a ride for a very long time, and there was a convenience store nearby.  Utterly bored, I went in and bought a pack of Camels.  That was the first time either of us had ever smoked, and we both got sick from it.

But the next day, I had another cigarette.  And eventually got hooked for a number of years off and on.

About my attempting to surf in California.  That’s true.  But he left out the part where the board shot out from under me and conked me on the head.  A couple of natives had to wade in and help me back to the beach which was spinning around.

And yes, I had tomaine poisoning from a tuna fish sandwich at the Grand Canyon.  They brought me back up on a mule, and I was held in a first-aid station and given an IV for about four hours before I was able to make it back to the top.  I’ve been back to the Canyon twice since then – and of course all I think about when I look at the grand scenery is how far I made it down before getting sick.  Since Lester never did come back down to find out what happened to me – I figured he had left.

We were kids really.  We didn’t know anything about the country, or about how to take care of ourselves.  My father told me, when we returned, that he was sure we’d never make it back – but somehow we did.  You know how it is – at that age you just think you’re immortal.  At my age, you realize that you are all too mortal.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

3 thoughts on “We Go Cross Country”

  1. I have no idea. But if you ask him for more — I’m sure he could dig up something. (BTW TCM has been playing The Little Fugitive a lot lately. Reminds me of Lester’s moviemaking.)

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