by Paul Young
A few weeks before the Christmas of 1967,a friend of mine was staying in a cheap hotel located in downtown Rochester NY.
My friend was in his early twenties and I was seventeen.We were both gay.
Right above his room there were two girls that were also gay.
My friend explained to me that the girls had ask him if he wanted to be a second driver to California,and he said yes.They said to him that he would be payed for it.
My friend ask me if I wanted to come along and I said yes. He ask the girls about this and they told him it would be ok.
I only had about twenty- five dollars,I wasn’t sure how much money he had.
So off the four of us went to California.The girls slept in motels,my friend and I slept in the car.
Driving through the desert we drove by a sign that read “Last gas station for miles.” None of us new much about car mechanics so it was decided to have the car checked. The attendant filled the gas tank and then checked other things on the car.He informed us that the shocks on the car were not good and should be replaced.
while we were waiting for the car to be fixed, I walked around to the back of the gas station to look at the desert. Not only did I see the desert,but I seen a large pile of shock’s.
The plan was that when we arrived in California the girls and my friend and I would go our separate ways. when we arrived in Pasadena the girls said goodbye and off they went.
My friend and I walked around the city of Pasadena. we came across a building that was some kind of agency.I didn’t know what type of agency it was, but my friend must have known. We went in,I sat on a seat while my friend spoke to the receptionist. The receptionist then showed him to an office. After about an half hour, My friend and a woman came from the office that he had been in.The woman ask him to take a seat, then ask me to come with her to her office.
The woman was very alarmed when she found out that I was only seventeen.She immediately went out and had my friend come back into the office. She informed him he could be arrested for taking a minor across the state line. I informed her I came of my own free will.
The woman ask if I had any family that could wire me money to get me back to New York state. I replied that they didn’t have the money to get me home. The Lady had already informed my friend that he would have to find a way to get himself back to New York state.
My friend was told to wait for me back out in the reception area.I was then ask some more questions. The woman informed me that she would give me meal tickets to be used at local restaurant and I would be placed in the local Y.M.C.A . It would take a few days before transportation by train could be arranged to get me back to New York state.
My friend and I left the agency and started to walk a round. We discovered a homeless shelter that also served as a soup kitchen. That was where my friend would stay. we had some bean soup and bread then walked around some more.
When it started to get dark my friend walked me to the Y.M.C.A.We made arrangements to meet the next day.
The Y.M.C.A. where I stayed was verry nice. They even gave me ten dollars for helping to decorate there Christmas tree.
The following day my friend and I met.We first went to the little restaurant whear I could use my meal tickets. They allowed me share my meal tickets with my friend.
After breakfast we went to look around Pasadena.My friend suggested that we should try and find out if any of the churches had any thing to offer us. We did not have much luck with that idea,But we did find one church that paid us to clean their church yard.
The time came when a person came to the Y.M.C.A to take me to the train station. My friend found a way to get back to New York by being paid to get a car to New York.
I later found out that the girl who owned the car that we came to California in. Had come to Pasadena looking for me because her friend had to go back to Rochester because of a Family Emergency. She was hoping to find me so I could ride back with her.
The train ride back to Rochester would become very interesting. Because it was just a short time to Christmas the train was very crowded.There were a lot of service men on the train going home for Christmas.
The interesting part was that the train had to travel through what was later called one of the worst blizzard’s of the century”The Blizzard of 67″.
We were very behind schedule and the train ran out of food.The train stopped in this very small New Mexico town. Many people got off to go into this very small restaurant.There was a small bar next door where many of the service men went.
Very soon the train conductor comes running in and says “This train is very behind schedule and you must get back on aboard very soon.” The conductor did not go into the bar next-door and give the same message.So when the train started to pull out, it was discovered that there were many empty seats. The train had to make a sudden stop to pick up the service men that was running to the train.
The girls ended up back in Rochester and I only seen my friend a couple times after I returned.
So my dear friends this ends my story of my great adventure on Route 66.
Paul Young is an author and artist from Rochester.