Two ladies, a Chrysler Imperial and a road trip to California

By Junior Johnson

It was the summer of 1965 and I had just finished my first year at Northwestern State College. Yes it was simply a College back then, and this 18-year-old from Cloutierville was feeling pretty good about himself. The 5th Dimension would not release Age of Aquarius until 4 years later.

I was working that summer at West Brothers Department Store on Front Street in Natchitoches and riding my bicycle around town in my spare time.

When I arrived at work one morning the sweet lady who was the office manager called me to her desk. She had a proposition for me. She had a couple of old College friends at her home who had driven from Connecticut and were on their way to La Jolla, Cali. where they had purchased a new home. The ladies were in their mid 70s and the trip had exhausted them. They wonder of their was someone they could hire to drive for them. It was a perfect job for me. I was excited about the prospect and when told that my job at the store would be secure I said yes.

We all met for dinner that night and arrangements were made to leave the next morning. We bonded immediately despite the age difference. They were very sweet.

When I arrived on my bicycle the next morning with backpack in hand I saw that I would be driving a brand new Chrysler Imperial. I was thrilled to death as we pulled out of the driveway ready to begin the journey.

We drove to Dallas that day and spent the night. The next morning I accompanied them to several luxury department stores where they made purchases and had them sent to La Jolla. This routine took place at several stops along the way.

We talked about an array of subjects and it was a very educational experience for me. I was given a daily allowance but they never let me spend any of it. They even purchased me a piece of luggage to store items they purchased for me.

When we arrived in El Paso, Texas they asked if I had ever seen the Carlsbad Caverns and of course I had not. The next day we detoured into New Mexico and I toured the Caverns while they had lunch and martinis in the VIP Lounge. It was a breathtaking tour.

During the trip we all enjoyed rock and roll songs on the radio, and somewhere in California a Byrds song played and it was announced that they would be performing at a free concert at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco that weekend. I casually mentioned that I liked their music and would love to see them.

It was nearly sundown when we arrived at their mansion on a hill overlooking the ocean. What a spectacular sight that was. When we arrived at our hotel they told me we would meet the next morning and settle up.

I was nervous that night because I had never flown before and knew that was going to take place the next day. When I arrived at their room the next morning I was shocked to see numerous stacks of money on one of the beds along with some sheets of paper. I was told that they remembered my comment about the Byrds and had taken the liberty of booking a flight to San Francisco, a room for two nights near Golden Gate Park, and of course spending money. All the flight numbers and reservations were written down for me. I was on the verge of tears. Then on another sheet of paper was reservations for a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and on to Shreveport, and another stack of money. Tears were forming in my eyes then. The final stack of money was picked up and they said that this was a bonus because they had such a wonderful time. The tears flowed then, from all three of us.

I departed later that day to join the hippies in San Francisco; however, that will be a story for another time.

12 thoughts on “Two ladies, a Chrysler Imperial and a road trip to California

  1. This was a great read again. I enjoyed it the first time I read it on your FB page. You have been bless. Your stories take us back to a time when most of us had little but we were happy. Thank You Sir!!!

  2. I love to read stories like yours. It upsets me when someone writes from their heart and another comes on to criticize their grammatical errors. It is great to me the way you told it. I got it and I loved it.

  3. Is it not great that you were called to go on such a trip.. I am sure that you totally enjoyed it and you learned the happiness of travel.
    Our trip to Kansas City was not nearly as elegant, but we had a lot of fun. We had to go to at least one meeting to pick up a award for our chapter. Then we spent a lot of times on a tour bus. Had so much fun that we did not attend any more of the meetings but saw all that that city had to offer.

    Remember that we had to scour news stands to get us enough papers that covered the convention. Mr. Ryder said we would have to give a report about the convention before we left. I think that he knew that we stayed in the road, and made up the most about the convention. I will always remember that one.

  4. Please correct the grammatical errors, Junior, then it will be a story I will enjoy. My husband was at the time in Vietnam serving the first of his three tours as a Force Recon U.S. Marine Corps Sniper. I think he only got to see Ann Margaret once. The rest of the time he was in the jungle fighting. I thank him so much for the freedom the rest of us had to see acts, go to school, write and enjoy life over here that his service gave us. I checked and other sources and could not find your name as I found his, my dad’s, his Dad’s in the MAC (medical corps) in a branch of service, Junior. Please give me your details so I can thank you as well; all veterans deserve our thanks. I even checked for Dennis’ and came up blank. Gene was in college at SHSU at the time the war broke out (his dad, at the time, was serving as medical doctor to the SHSU football team as a freebie- he was President at the Hospital) and Gene was exempt from serving for three reasons, but begged his Dad, Dr. Eugene Morse Addison, Sr., to sign papers allowing him to serve his country. Huntsville, Tx, is a very patriotic town. Mary Jane, his mom, and president of the DRT, DAR, and The Alamo lost it, but Gene went anyway- a funny- she’d send all of his Force Recon buddies toothbrushes in each mail drop once she learned on maneuvers they had to share toothbrushes. He returned to college when he came back three tours later. He suffered with PTSD for the rest of his life, and passed on in December 31, 2013, making me a young widow. He and I traveled the world together before that giving tribute to veterans all over the world. My daughter is a respected writer and does freelance ghost-writing if you’d like to contact her for some help. Gene died with shrapnel still embedded in is body, but was the most brilliant military historian I ever met. I know tons and tons about Kisatchie, (I lived within the forest at the Fire Tower- only person on ACTUAL government land for years until James Michael was born), and also learned so very much about Natchitoches, Cloutierville, Alexandria, and all the stories within. I have tons of photographs of the Museum (Kate Chopin’s- yes, before it burned) as Gene loved the doctors’ shed in the back with all the eye drop cups, and the Flying Tigers memorabilia, so we went crazy taking pictures. They will be in my book- as I’ve been asked by hundreds to write one. Annie, a firm believer that you never know where life will lead one. I have been and continue to be blessed by God. I hope you will continue to be blessed as well. We both owe our honesty and praise to the veterans like my brother and my husband for our freedom. I taught language arts for a while, Junior, and so I examine stories, hence catching the errors most won’t even notice. Wishes for much luck, Annie

  5. Love this Story Junior.How fortunate you were to have an experience of a lifetime,It couldn’t have happened to a better person.Very good writing, I felt like I was right there.

    • Yes, you were very lucky. My husband was serving in Vietnam, as were so many other Natchitoches Parish residents. His Daddy gave him permission to leave SHSU college (a normal college like NSU at the time), and Mary Jane (his mom- a DRT, DAR, and President of the Alamo) lost it. But Gene was a hero, and he served for you and me, Junior. What branch did you serve in. I could not find it in Love, Annie. Gene served three tours as a US Marine Corps Sniper for our country. God Bless the United States of America and those that served. He was exempt, he made the choice to give up his exemption. But this was a nice story.

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