LOCKED and LOADED

I noted in my October 3 blog (Traveling Shoes) a recent visit from my cousin, Beau Bailey. Beau, you’ll recall, hangs his hat in Snohomish, Washington. My Mom and his Mom were sisters. Their Dad, my Grandpa, owned a 104 acre spread in Franklin Township, Hunterdon County. Beau and I both spent a sliver of our respective childhoods there at Capoolong Farm.

Whenever Beau and I visit, we invariably compare notes from the old days. His Mom and my Mom were markedly different ladies . My Mom spent a bit of time with the milk cows. Beau’s folks were not dairy farmers. Among other pursuits, they were habitual travelers.

Life was notably different back then. Beau, just yesterday , told me something I hadn’t before known. His Dad worked in the city. His Mom, quite busy with four kids under the age of 8 and a fifth in the oven, packed the kids in the station wagon one day and headed west.

For health reasons, a doctor had recommended a dryer climate for one of Beau’s sisters. The search was on for a new home, as it turned out, in Arizona. Beau’s Dad, my Uncle Ray, remained at home until the crew returned. Somebody had to work.

Travel insurance was provided by Smith & Wesson. That policy was under the seat. The kids were strictly warned not to touch it. That, of course, is the first reason a kid needs to touch it !

The trip was adventurous. After the day’s driving, they’d find a place where a tent could be pitched and a little grub could be warmed by a campfire. One evening, after chowing down, Beau felt his back to the ground for a bit of stargazing. They were at the foot of a shallow cliff. The waning fire was yet able to shed vestiges of light up to the brow of the cliff.

Beau gazed further into the darkness of the night when he realized he was being watched. There was a glint in the eye of a mountain lion perched motionless atop the cliff. The cat was kind enough to remain so until all hands could scurry into the station wagon.

And so it was for years henceforward , the Baileys, vagrants in the vicissitudes of the night. Travelers ever and anon.

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