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.