Two Mennonite Girls: a Cross Country Road Trip, continued


1964_Monkey postcard_Orderville UT

The postcard says Metzie and Molly if you look closely, but Joann and I were unofficially known as Mighty Metz and Sister Styx, the dashing duo that rode in the back seat of a Chevy Impala on a road trip with Joann’s parents, John and Mary Metzler.

Feeding a hooded squirrel at a stop off in Glacier National Park

Web_1964_Marian feeding squirrel_Close up

Our Southern route included the cotton fields of Alabama . . .

Web B_Joann-and-cotton

. . . and Rock City, Georgia with a view of seven states


 . . . and a tapering Falls

Web B_Marian-at-Falls


How I Paid for This Trip: I wrote an adult study series for Herald Press during May and June of 1964 for which I was paid $500.00. I brought cash and Traveler’s Cheques. Credit cards like the Diner’s Club Card were in circulation back then, but we didn’t have any. Actually, like many Mennonites, we thought credit cards were a little shady because of the possibility of misuse.


Frugality, Joann’s and Mine: 

  • Joann says to her mother in Canyonville, Oregon: “Mom, give me the map, let’s stop at some little hick place for dinner. Then I’ll have money to buy some more myrtle wood!”


  • In Oregon, I remark to Joan: “Boy, oh, boy, my future husband will have a wife who can keep on a budget, thank goodness!” Little did I know my future husband Cliff was living not so far away in California at the time.        

 1964_Marians Out West_Meals+Motels

Joan and I alternated weeks in paying room costs. I paid tolls and park entrance fees  instead of gas, which was probably less than 30 cents per gallon then.

I remember paying 50 cents to drive through a redwood tree!


We both kept diaries and photo logs. Mine looks battered and torn. Still, there’s a record.

1964_Marians Out West_Photo notebook

Church: We attended a service at the Mormon Tabernacle but the choir was missing, gone to the World’s Fair. Ugh . . . so disappointing!


  • I was accosted by a Mormon guy in the tabernacle gift shop: He thought I was Israeli and mistook my black bonnet for a feminine yarmulke and tried to convert me to Mormonism.
  • We also visited Sweet Home Mennonite Church in Oregon with Rev. Orie Roth, pastor.


Sin: We drove by garish casinos and hotels down Main Street, Las Vegas. Among the glitter and glitz of sky-high, flashy neon lights, we noticed advertisements for $ 10.00 weddings. Do you think people got married drunk? we wondered.


Western Hospitality: On our way to Sequoia National Park we pulled off the road and discovered a friendly guy mowing his lawn. Thus we met the Shaefers. Mr. Schaefer showed Uncle John his orange grove, and Mrs. Schaefer loaded us up with a 12’ x 15’ box of peaches, oranges, two bags of grapes, 2 bags of oranges, and a quart of raisins she had picked/dried herself.


Thanks to the miracle of “General Delivery,” I got mail from home at planned intervals. Here’s a note from Aunt Ruthie with a cascading series of cartoons

PNG1966_0722_Birthday card and letter to Marian_from Ruthie_Cooke City_MT_3x3

And a birthday card from my sister Jean with a letter . . .


. . .  and a note from Mother chiding Jean for not leaving any space to write: “I don’t know who she thinks she is . . . didn’t leave any space for Mother!”

Two letters sent to me addressed simply as Los Angeles – General Delivery came back with a note “Unclaimed – Return to Sender.”  Imagine that!


I brought back gifts for all the family. Janice received a myrtle-wood vase from Oregon, brother Mark a table lamp with a cactus base, and Daddy, a polished piece of petrified wood. My ledger shows I bought Jean a pretty blouse for $ 4.10, but alas no picture here!

Web_1964_Janice receiving gift


Web_1964_Postcard_Petrified-Forest+Ray-receives gift_AZ


Aunt Ruthie, brother Mark, and Mother Ruth
Aunt Ruthie with Christofferson paintings from Albuquerque, brother Mark with lamp, and Mother Ruth with a myrtle-wood pedestal dish

And something for myself too

I'll still using the bookends I bought in Tijuana, Mexico
I’m still using the alabaster bookends I bought in Tijuana, Mexico


The strangest thing I brought back: Water in a Gerber’s baby food jar (Aunt Ruthie’s suggestion) from The Great Salt Lake, where we floated with no danger of sinking.


Photos   I took almost two hundred photos on Kodak Ektachrome color slide film and sent home film rolls in heat-resistant pouches to be developed. Joann took photos and movies.

We don’t make a photograph just with a camera, we bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved.

– Ansel Adams


40 thoughts on “Two Mennonite Girls: a Cross Country Road Trip, continued

  1. Thank you for sharing your memories and photos, Marian! They are both wonderful. I don’t think I ever realized how “General Delivery” worked (or didn’t sometimes). I loved the “Dear Sweetie Pie” and the cartoon drawing. Your family seems so close and loving.

    The Shaefers were very kind strangers, indeed. Did you stay in touch with them?


    1. Farmer John really engaged with Mr. Shaefer because of their common interest in farming. Maybe the Metzlers stayed in touch with the Shaefers, but I have no way of knowing whether their correspondence continued. We were so grateful for their sharing their bounty. Fruit is a good thing to have on the road!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember peering through the spare bedroom doorway at Grandma Longenecker”s house seeing you sitting behind a long folding table hard at work on your Herald Press writing. I sensed Aunt Ruthie’s pride & protection of you and your space.

    I too received a myrtle vase and if you also gave me a blouse it’s obvious who you loved more.

    Great story,


    1. Grandma often brought to my writing table a red rose fresh with morning dew. For some reason I remember the rose more than the writing table.

      A myrtle vase and a blouse – well, I declare!


      1. All that was missing on the door was a sign saying, “Quiet, the next Emily Dickinson Hard At Work.”


  3. What great memories. I love how you carefully budgeted the trip. The myrtle wood gifts were very thoughtful. The slides and pictures are priceless!


    1. I know you have traveled from Canada to Spain where you live now, but other travels have inspired the Amanda series for young readers. Here is a link to Darlene’s website where her character named Amanda travels the world.


  4. The effort it takes to write a post like this, including reconstructed slides and correspondence that match is not lost on me! You not only budget money but also organize and preserve artifacts. You are amazing, Marian.

    I just retrieved a box of slide carousels that were stored in a damp basement. Mistake!

    I too love the high spirits and many signs of family love in these artifacts. You are documenting a whole culture.


    1. You always put a thoughtful frame of context around my writing, helping me see both the forest and the trees. I am so fortunate!

      Documenting the past is tricky business: dangerous in that it is so time consuming but enlightening too. Our down-sizing is going to proceed v-e-r-y slowing if we keep tumbling down rabbit holes like these.

      I know about storage mistakes. In our first house, a flood of water rushed through the garage and made a blurry mess of many of our love letters.

      By the way, I wonder whether your mother would know the John Metzler family with a farm near Lititz. Joann had five brothers much older than she, one of whom is named Carl.


  5. Very interesting! I’m wondering–do you still have the Great Salt Lake water? Also, I guess your loss was my gain: In the summer of 1964 I was at the World’s Fair with my parents, so I got to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


    1. Oh, Cathy, nice to hear from you again. No, I don’t have the salt water any more. It became less meaningful after a while. Yes, an interesting switcheroo you mention here: We saw the magnificent tabernacle and organ, but YOU got to hear the choir. That was quite a summer.


  6. Marian — I’m utterly impressed that you HAVE these items in your possession to share with us, your readers. I love the way you’ve braided your written remembrances with the photographs, taking the rest of us right along with you this virtual vacation!


    1. Laurie, I like your choice of the word braiding – it’s the best description yet of how this post came about. So glad you came along for the ride and enjoyed the journey, both going and coming!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Marian what a wonderful post. All the great memories, pictures, and capturing the love and humor of mom Jean, and aunt Ruthie. First time I’ve seen Mark as a child cute as a button. You have all been blessed to have such a loving family. I’ve been so blessed to have such a loving part of this family, and I praise God every time I think of my time on Anchor Rd. Thank you for sharing your trip.


    1. Oh, Gloria, every time you read you hear a piece of our family history, probably something you didn’t ever know about. During this trip, my parents had Cheeno and Roxanne from NYC, Fresh Air children who spent several summers with us. In two of my mother’s letters during the trip she talks about their shenanigans. I may write about it some day. Hilarious!


  8. So amazing seeing all those photos from your past . I’m going to give you full marks for paying for the holiday from your own means and so organised . Our youngsters these days expect to be either payed for , or at least pocket money provided .
    Hey and there just around the corner was your lovely hubby just waiting for your hand , sorry I am such a hopeless romantic .
    When my sister was very young, before I was born , she lived in the suburbs of Birmingham and unknown to her , her husband and best friend were living in the same street, or there about . They never met till she was in her teens and ten miles away living in a town called Halesowen where I was later born . .. It must be fate . Have so enjoyed this continued post …bless you.


    1. Thank you for sharing the sweet story of your sister and her hubby. I think you should continue being a hopeless romantic. The world needs more people with heart like you. I appreciate your reading, commenting – all that good stuff, Cherry! 🙂


    1. I wonder whether you are old enough to remember Kodak Ektachrome slide film. It was all the rage back then, touted as more durable than snapshots + having the ability to project images onto a big screen. We’ve come a long way since then as your photography would suggest.


  9. Marian, You are truly amazing. That you have all of these slides, your journal and other pieces of paper is astounding to me. And your writing about it is wonderful. I loved this travel adventure of yours and look forward to more adventures.

    Think how much that trip would cost now in 2015!


    1. Ha – I probably couldn’t afford it – at least perhaps not energy-wise. I wish I had kept a journal in my childhood years – what secrets that would reveal. But, you’re right, I’m glad I saved all this: diary, expense book, postcards, and even travel maps, one of which you’ll see Wednesday. I so appreciate your reading, Joan. Commenting too!


  10. I was so busy on Sat. didn’t get around to reading or commenting but this was as delightful as expected. Love the meals for like $1.20 and $.85. But what was most striking here to me is the look of joy and thrill on the faces of your family as you brought these western artifacts back to them in the form of souvenirs. That was such a big part of vacationing as a family when I was young: what we would buy. But it is obvious that these were treasures to your family as well. Love it!


    1. Thank you for mentioning the gifts. Like a reversal of the Wise Men, (read that “woman”) I joyfully brought back treasures from the West to family that had always lived in the East. I guess that was as close to exotic as they had ever come. Just a few years later, my sister Janice, drove all the way to Michigan by herself to take a nursing job. Then the scattering began.

      Always glad to read your viewpoint here, Melodie.


  11. Wow! What a fantabulous trip! How blessed you were to be able to do it. And how crafty you were earning your $500 for spending. It’s strange to see you wearing the bonnet. And I had to LOL at a Mormon trying to convert you. Hilarious! 🙂


  12. I enjoy traveling with you, Marian. Love the photos, the stories, and the Mennonite background. It a parallel universe to my world.


    1. And you are such an astute traveling companion, Elaine. A few lines I read recently from Margaret Laurence suit you to a T: “You try to feel, in your heart’s core, the reality of others . . . .” I couldn’t ask for more.


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