The old Hiway 66 ran all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. It was America’s Hiway made famous by the TV show, “Route 66” and the song, “Get your kicks on Route 66.” I’m told it was built in 1926, before the crash of the great depression, and covered almost 2500 miles. There was no interstate system back then, in fact, I remember riding in the back seat of our 1949 Plymouth from Gainesville, Texas all the way to Dover, New Jersey which was about 850 miles. We traveled over the Pennsylvania Turnpike built in 1940 and it was only about 160 miles long. All of the other roads were two lanes. It took forever, seemed like. The interstate hiway plan was introduced by President Eisenhower in the 1950s. He was our main leader-general stationed in Germany during the Second World War and was really impressed by what the Germans called the Reichsautobahnen. Our politicians had been arguing about highways for a long time and when Eisenhower was elected he provided the leadership to get it done. Of course America was preoccupied with the war so no one even got involved in highway building.
At barely 18 years of age I stood on the curb of Route 66 that wound its way through Oklahoma City watching as my parents waved from their aqua green and white ’56 Plymouth, the kind that had buttons to change gears. Their eyes filled with tears as they drove away. Life would never be the same for them – and for me.
They took the bull by the horns and processed my enrollment in a Christian (Bethany Nazarene) College because I didn’t have the maturity to know top from bottom or diddleysquat. They settled me in an ancient dorm room with some guy named Stuart, the brother of my New Mexico girlfriend whom I met at church camp. Notice I said my girlfriend – I wasn’t her boyfriend. I had never met Stuart. He was older than I, but he had a job and was going to be gone most of the time. It didn’t matter because his being my roommate confirmed my firm belief that college was a glorified church camp.
So, with the maturity of a warthog and like a newborn fawn, I ran across the campus free as a bird [I’m an animal lover] never looking back to see if my parents were watching. It didn’t take me long to realize that college was not church camp and most of the kids were grownups … or acted like it. I was more of a junior high kid.