Lisburn Exiles Forum

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Our First Venture South

When we arrived in Calgary in 1958, we bought our first car, a 1948 Chev for the princely sum of $300 The nice man at the dealers advised us that it belonged to his wife and had only 84 thousand miles on it. It turned out to be a great and reliable means of transport, and stood us in good stead, though Frances did not like it's humpy back.

Eventually, in 1960, we moved up to a 1955 Oldsmobile, and I poured a lot of money into this car, everything had to be just right, pride of ownership and all that nonsense. We decided to take a long trip in this car, to Los Angeles, in the summertime, no less.

We were accompanied by my brother Bob who had just emigrated to Calgary in 1959 and set off on Interstate 15, travelling through Salt Lake City and through Cedar City where the temperature was 120

We had the windows cranked down on the car, no air conditioning, just a canvas water bag hanging out the rear window, this being cooled by evaporation only. The wind coming in through the windows was like a blast furnace, we stopped every now and again to buy ice cream and iced drinks, but the relief from these was short lived and we found ourselves stopping more and more frequently.

Eventually we made it into Las Vegas where I made a deal with a motel owner, we would NOT stay the night or use the beds but rest in the air conditioned room until 9:00 pm that evening, before moving on to LA We played the slots and even obtained an autograph from Dean Martin in the Sands Hotel. I remember parking the car in the shade of a tree, but the roof light diffuser had melted in the heat when I returned. Somewhere on the Strip, I had an inner tube placed on one of the radial tires to correct a slow leak.

After travelling through the desert that evening, we lay up at the side of the road near San Bernadino and awaited the morning light before venturing into LA

We found ourselves in a traffic jam at 7:00 in the morning on the Interstate 15, then we headed for a motel in Long Beach, in those days everybody headed for Long Beach, right ?

Well we did, and we found this famous beach shrouded in smog, after a whole day of this, complete with stinging eyes, blurry sun, I asked the motel owner, where can we go to get out of this. He suggested, Santa Monica, so we headed there.

We found a motel there and indeed did escape the smog in a Travel Lodge motel for $8 a night and the seventh day free. We looked jealously across the street at The Surf Rider Inn, but they were looking $16 a night, out of the question, way too expensive !

From this base, we took conducted tours of the homes of movie stars even pulled up alongside of Cesar Romero on Hollywood Boulevard. We attended rehearsals of Ertha Kitt at the Hollywood Bowl, and I have colour slides to prove it.

We visited an old friend of Frances, who was housekeeping for tennis star Jack Kramer, while her mother was housekeeping in a home that once belonged to Walt Disney, no less. I remember the shag carpet there was like long tangled grass. My how the other people lived !

We visited the Marineland of the Pacific, Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland before undertaking the long trip back to Calgary.

That was the way it was in 1960


Re: Our First Venture South

Here´s another go
my first car was a Riley RMA 1 1/2 Liter 1948, black with a vinyl roof, bought for £60 in 1962 saved from my apprentice wages in Mackies saving club.
It was owned by someone in Grand St. Lowroad and I felt myself "the bees knees" owning a car.

Re: Our First Venture South

Fortycoats, I really enjoyed that trip you described. I was there all the way, even picturing Dean Martin signing your autograph book. Thank you for that and post some more please. One of our presenters on Radio Ulster visits Santa Monica when he can as he says its his favourite place in all the world. Fortycoats, "you've lived a life that's full" - sorry, Frank Sinatra. Can't think of a Dean Martin appropriate one just now.

Re: Our First Venture South

I mentioned Salt Lake City in passing, actually we stayed there a good part of a day in 1960 We visited the Capitol Building, a stately white building with a central rotunda and floral grounds. I recall seeing a bronze figure of Cyrano De Bergerac, complete with long nose, in the middle of the building.

SLC is situated on the eastern side of The Great Salt Lake and we fully intended to test the buoyancy of its water. Gaining access to the lake was not easy but eventually we ended up on a beach with salt encrusted rocks, this must be it, we thought. At this time neither Frances or myself could swim but we quickly learned that you could stay afloat even with arms and legs half way out of the water.

Some years later we were staying near Ogden, a town to the north of SLC and happened upon a unique restaurant. It had been suggested by the receptionist at our motel and was situated near the main highway. The restaurant was called The Prairie Schooner.

The theme of the restaurant was the Old West in the pioneering days. Covered wagons were once known as Prairie Schooners, hence the name of the restaurant.

When we were assigned a "table", we were led in the semi darkness into a most unusual arena, about twenty or so covered wagons, forming a circle and all lit up with their individual lamps shining through the white canvas against the night sky overhead. They even had stars twinkling in the heavens above. All around was desert sand and projecting through the sand in places, were the horns of some steers that did not quite make it. Throughout there was a scattering of campfires. We climbed a short stair to gain access to our canvas covered table. The meal was a huge steak and all the trimmings.

We have recommended this restaurant to many others and although it has changed location, by a few blocks, it still retains the mood and feeling of the Old West.

When we first visited this establishment, it was governed by strict CLDS laws regarding alcohol and we had to go through a rig-ma-role where we had to order wine beforehand, now I know you can order at the table.

Hope to go back, hope to go back.


Re: Our First Venture South

Our first car was purchased in 1965. It was a black Morris 8 (bullnose 8). It was small but was able to take two very pregnant ladies to Omeath and back safely. Those ladies were Pat and I, a month apart in pregnancy. Two fat ladies!!! Our next car, bought around 1967, was a Morris Minor. That wee car took Dominic, myself, my two aunts, and two children to Killarney and back. I still remember the numberplate which was 93 CMM. My own first car was a Fiat 26. When I collected the children from school, their pals would say, "Here comes your mum in her washing machine".