While they continued their elbow bending we fled up Route 202 around 10:30 to the quiet solitude of the Deck Motel. No one knew our destination and no one followed. We did not suffer the indignity of a chivaree at the motel. All the noise made upon our arrival were some friendly yips from that front desk clerk dog that greeted us as we checked in. In moments we slipped into a nice room and found management had left a poem for newlyweds upon the bed pillow. Unfortunately I no longer have a copy to reprint.
Although most of the cabins were in a row, ours was off to the side. It was like a little double house giving us more privacy. It was full of modern fixtures, TV, Hi-fi and air conditioning. No Wi-Fi or internet, of course, because such things were not yet invented!
Lois excused herself to go change from the wedding gown. How quaint that she would not change in front of me on our wedding night. Our prenuptial relationship had reached a stage where our modesty was flung aside with our shoes, our clothing heedlessly discarded as we feel into each other’s body, two heat-seeking missiles colliding, but now when it was legal to see each other in the flesh we discovered modesty. I flicked on the TV while she was in the bathroom. What do you know? The film “Rebel Without a Cause” was about to start. I had wanted to see this movie for years so I put on that channel.
At that moment whatever James Dean and Natalie Wood were nattering about with Sal Mineo could wait.
At 9:30 the next morning we left for the Honeymoon trip proper. It was going to be mostly driving that day, out of Pennsylvania then through New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, but I almost didn’t get further than the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
We pulled up to the Downingtown toll plaza to enter the turnpike. We had backtracked south from Norristown. The booths didn’t yet have those automatic ticket dispensers. A real live breathing person sat inside and handed out the tickets. I reached out the window. The man in the booth poked his head out and pointed to my lower car.
“That rattling in your wheel. Sounds like the bearings are bad.”
“Oh, that’s just…”
“Pull over on the side there,” he told me.
I pulled over as instructed and another man approached my car. He wore a uniform, something like a cop's, but it was tan and had turnpike authority or some such thing stitched over his breast pocket. He leaned in my driver side window.
“It sounds like something’s wrong with your axle,” he said. “Sounds like bad wheel bearings.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my wheel bearings,” I said, not having any idea what the heck wheel bearings even were. “We got married yesterday. Some friends put stones in my hubcaps as a joke.”
“Uh huh. Well, you’re gonna haffa take them out. We can’t let you on the turnpike if you got bad wheel bearings. Too dangerous.”
He stood back, hands on his hips in best Barney Fife fashion as I climbed out of the car. He kept his pose and watched as I pulled my tire iron from the truck, pried off my hubcaps and emptied out the offending stones. They formed a decent pile. There were a few friends I would have liked to use that tire iron on at that moment or at lease fling those stones at.
Once I emptied the stones I drove the car back and forth a couple times to prove there was no more rattle, the guy let us on the turnpike. We were on turnpikes across four states that day, only stopping for lunch at a Howard Johnson’s. We didn’t stop again until entering the outskirts of New Haven.
After dinner we retired to our motel room. This being our Honeymoon we were about to indulge in some entertainment of our own making. My father had given me a gross of condoms as a wedding gift. Do you know how embarrassing it was to be opening your wedding presents in front of nearly 200 guests and pull out a box of 144 rubbers? I did know what condoms were and what they were for. There were dispensers in men’s room where the truck drivers went where you could buy a condom for a quarter. I had seen them in the few restrooms I dared utilize, but had never had an actual one in my hand.
Lois and I did not want to start a marriage by getting pregnant off the bat, so before I stepped up to the plate, I figured since we had them by the dozens I’d to give it a try.
I stared dumbfounded at the little drum I held. My thought was “How do you put the darn thing on?”
Amazingly after all this time to ponder the problem Mr. Johnson remained at perfect attention like a good solder. Lois had stretched out upon the bed and looked on with a somewhat bemused expression. Picture this tableau then, my wife stark naked and waiting like a anxious cat upon the bed and I perched, also naked, upon the edge of the same bed contemplating a little round rubber disc like it was a deep physics problem. On second thought, perhaps you shouldn’t picture it.
I placed the drumhead on my penis head and attempted to roll it down the shaft. This did not seem to accomplish anything, so I flipped the disc over and began to roll from that positioning, which seemed to start it unraveling. It was proving a laborious process and then halfway through this procedure my fingers slipped off the rolled edges and the condom flew across the room as if shot from a bow. If I had been sitting in the opposite direction I might have shot Lois’ eye out.
“Where did it go?” I asked.
Lois shook her head. She didn’t know.
We walked to the other side of the room and gazed about. No sign of the rascally rubber rocket. It had to be somewhere in the room, but where? I was upset. I didn’t want the cleaning staff to come the next day and find a confounded condom loose in the place. I wanted to find the darn thing. So there were Lois and I, buck naked, crawling around the motel floor looking for a condom. At least in church when we were crawling about looking for the ring we had clothes on.
It kind of killed the mood.
We never found the condom.
We left Old Sturbridge for the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I hit Fitchburg at the beginning of rush hour. It was bumper-to-bumper traffic weaving through town. Naturally I missed my turn and had to drive all the way to the other end of the burg to find a way to turn around and then drive all the way back in that traffic again. It took a good part of an hour. It had me frazzled by the time we crossed the New Hampshire border and reached Route 101 north.
The country along Route 101 was pretty desolate and it was already 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon. We were getting nervous. We were not seeing any motels along the road and the sun was slipping lower behind the mountains. We did not want to be stranded overnight with nowhere to stay so the first vacancy sign we saw we pulled in. It was the 101 Motel (How original.). The cabins were rustic, to say the least, but we couldn’t see much more than the outlines since they were dark in color. Evening had come enough that it was dark and dim back in the trees that surrounded the grounds. The motel proper sat well back from the road in the woods. Each cabin stood unattached and by its lonesome.
We checked in.
No worry about fly-away condoms here. There would be no sex this night. September days can be some on the nicest as summer winds down and back home on this day it would get to a high of 70. Night were what people called good sleeping weather, chilly and dry usually. Back in Bucktown it got down to 40 degrees. Who knows what it sunk to in the mountain air of New Hampshire. The place was not comfortable; it was cold. There didn’t seem to be any heat. We curled up in bed with our clothes on and as many blankets as they had.
It was also very spooky back there in the woods. The night was dark and full of noises. I’m an old country boy, although back then I was a young country boy, but still I knew the sounds of forest at night. But it wasn’t the night winds and prowling critters that kept us awake at the 101 Motel. It was the car wheels up and down the gravel driveway that went on all night long. The place was something of a dump. Maybe it charged rates by the hour.
We were up at dawn the next morning. I went in and took a cold shower. I had no choice. There was no hot water. We left. A mile up the road we went over a little hill and there, lining both sides of the road as far as we could see, were bright, clean modern motels with big flashy signs.
Oh, how I wish the digital camera had existed then. I had bragged to Ronald about the amount of film I used.
“First I must say sorry for not sending any cards on our trip. In the excitement of everything I left without your address. Alas, alac. I shall hope you get home soon and can see our cards and pictures. By the way I took three rolls of film, color, and every picture but the last two I took tuned out. 34 out of 36 pretty good, eh?”
I thought 34 photos was a lot then, and it was, considering what you paid and went through in handling film from buying the roll to developing the prints. Today I would come home with hundreds of snapshots on such a trip, and I’m sure there would have been some Honeymoon shots I couldn’t share. Back then I was very stingy about taking a shot.
Where didn’t we?
Storyland, Glen, NH, displays of all the Fairy Tales; Crawford’s Notch; Frankenstein Cliff, we did not climb it; Commemoration Rock, you’re NOT allowed to climb it; a NH Wildlife Exhibit; Mt. Webster, where Noah mined all the words in the dictionary; Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH with all the cute animals to pet; Six Gun City in Jefferson, NH, where we were both sworn in as sheriffs along with all the other tourists throughout their history; Franconia Notch, getting your own notch seemed very popular; Echo Lake; Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway; Profile Lake, now see how these things all work together – Profile Lake is located in Franconia Notch at the foot of Cannon Mountain and got its name because it reflects the profile of the famous rock formation called the Old Man of the Mountain. We saw that, too. The Old Man was still gazing across the White Mountains in 1961. He collapsed and ruined the whole big deal in 2003. I mean, what have they done since. That Old Man of the Mountain image was stamped on everything New Hampshire.
That night I succeeded in rolling on a condom without launching it into space. It was also the night I discovered sex could be painful. The motions of the act entangled my pubic hair in the rolled edges. Removal was like pulling a Band-Aid off a hairy arm, perhaps worse. I will tell you, I shall never go to a salon for a waxing.
The next day we drove to North Woodstock, NH (not the Woodstock of ‘sixties renown) and visited Natureland. We found the Lost River, Paradise Falls and the Nature Garden, and Kinsmen’s Notch. Yes, another notch of repute.
We drove across much of Vermont by the end of the day and stayed at the Heiress Motel in Barre. There should be a plaque on the wall commemorating it as the place I gave up on using condoms, perhaps one reason why my wife was to get pregnant ten times in the coming years. I was now adept at putting the thing on and this time did not suffer the torture of sudden hair removal. No, this time the blasted thing simply slipped off during withdrawal. What a mess.
There were 141 condoms left. I let them rot.
Vermont was one of the reasons we choose New England for our honeymoon. It was a song we both liked called “Moonlight in Vermont”. That seemed so romantic. It conjured up visions of snow-covered hills and riding a sleigh through evergreens. It was September and there was no snow covered hills or sleighs. There was rain to greet our awakening. It didn’t slow us up any. We went to the John Shelby Maple Museum, The Rock of Ages Monument Building (where they make tombstones, how festive for a Honeymoon) and on to Montpelier, the State Capitol.
Since it was still raining when we reached the State Capitol we decided not to get out and walk. I saw a drive that appeared to circle the building. I told Lois I would just drive around the Capitol. I went around to the right, but I didn’t come out on the left. The drive behind the building somehow took me away from town and into the back hills of Vermont. The signs at crossroads were rough pieces of wood with hand lettering. There was no sign of civilization. We went by a clearing and up the meadow on this hill was a log cabin. As we drove by kids came pouring from the front door, like jelly beans out of an overturned jar, each waving at us as if they had never seen other humans before. They kept shuffling out of that cabin and lining up before the front porch. It looked like the Waltons.
Eventually I came to a town and what passed for main roads and we found our way again.
We went to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. It was similar to Old Sturbridge, except the village was from the mid-1800s. That night we stayed at the Grandview Resort Motel and had dinner at a nice restaurant in Burlington named the Lincoln Inn.
The next day we took an hour-long ferry trip across Lake Champlain into New York. We went on to Ausable Chasm, took a boat ride down the rapids, visited the 1,000 Animals Fur & Game Farm (wouldn’t like that much today) and said hello to Santa at his North Pole (NY) Workshop. We went to High Falls Gorge in the Adirondacks and then Lake Placid (didn’t see any giant crocodiles or Betty White) and Tupper Lake.
a place to eat. In the morning we drove to Alexandria Bay and took a three-hour boat ride through the 1,000 Islands. There was a stop over at the Boldt Castle, which a man built on one of the islands for his wife. It was a huge German Gothic castle. We were there 20 minutes. We stayed in the Coll-Fred Motel in Alexandria. Early the next day we crossed the bay into Canada.
I had to drive through the City of Toronto. I never saw such a wide street. There must have been eight lanes all converging on this one humongous traffic circle. It the middle was a lone policeman directing traffic. If it was like that in 1961, what is it like today?
I drove all the way around Lake Ontario to Niagara Falls. We got a room at the Clover Leaf Motel just off Queen Elizabeth Way. We stayed two nights. The first day we saw the American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, The Oak Garden Theatre, Rainbow Gardens, The Paul Schoelkopf Tower, The Clinton Memorial Arch, Rainbow Bridge and a rainbow over Horseshoe Falls, and Table Rock Cavern, which runs beneath the Horseshoe Falls. Of course we saw the falls lit up at night.
Lois posed at the Floral Clock.
There were figures of a lot of famous people looking real enough to talk. There was also a Chamber of Horrors. It depicted all kinds of tortures and monsters and they were very real looking as well.
Too real I’m afraid. That night Lois and I once again went to bed with our clothes on. Unlike the 101 Model it was not the chill of air that kept us awake; it was the shiver of fear and nightmares that made us too afraid to sleep. You know for a Honeymoon we were ending up keeping our clothes on overnight way too much.
We crossed the Rainbow Bridge back to the United States. We had to stop at a customs station. You didn’t need a passport to travel between the two countries yet. Customs was something like a turnpike booth in the middle of the bridge. One officer asked if I had anything to declare. I had bought a Honeymoon Photo Album at Niagara Falls. I didn’t know if that counted, so I waved it out the window and said, “Just this.”
The other officer said to the first, “See, I told you they were newlyweds.”
aristocrats and save them from the Guillotine.
Then out on the lawn arose such a clatter; I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. I threw open the shutters and threw up the sash – Well actually I just opened the front door. There were my parents, relatives and friends clanging and banging stuff. We had escaped it on our wedding night, but the chivaree had caught up to us.
I wondered what the residents thought of their new neighbors. I expected the villagers to appear at any moment with torches and pitchforks. Mr. and Mrs. Larry Meredith had arrived to start life in suburbia.