Bea and Casey have given Arkansas and Missouri a good try. Work hasn’t been any better. Casey’s brother-in-law wrote of a job opportunity in California. 1943 finds them back on the road, reversing the trip on Route 66 they just made a year ago.
They had to wait a few weeks for the weather to get warmer. With an older vehicle that you cannot totally trust, you do not head out for a cross country move in cold, or hot, extremes. The milder, more temperate climate of spring made for better traveling conditions. The spring of 1943, a year after they had moved to the Ozark hills, they were headed back west on Route 66. Their belongings had not changed. Only the number of children had increased.
“Seems like we just made this trip,” Bea said from her position as co-pilot in the passenger seat.
“Good thing there is plenty of food. Ike and Thelma stocked us up good for the trip.”
“They surely did,” Bea agreed.
They traveled along, Bea busy reading the road signs and stomping on the brakes that didn’t exist on her side of the car. The children were excited to be on the road again, seeing new sights, after being cooped up in a miniscule house for the winter.
The Chevy chugged along through the New Mexico landscape. Casey was almost hypnotized by the road with the wavy mirages floating above the asphalt highway. The children dozed, heads nodding and bobbing.
“Twelve miles to Albuquerque,” Bea announced.
Casey nodded, as if he were paying attention to her running commentary. A loud clang jerked him to attention as the car wobbled and shook. A screeching noise pierced the car’s interior and Bea covered her ears. Casey looked in the rear view mirror and saw a line of sparks flying up from behind the car. He held the wheel tight and eased the limping vehicle towards the shoulder of the road where it slowed to a stop in its last dying moments.
“What in tarnation was that?” Bea asked. Tom and Ida awoke and started bawling. The three older ones in back woke up also, although they appeared dazed and confused and at least weren’t crying.
“Sit tight, Mother, I’ll go see.” Casey walked around the car, bending and peering underneath the chassis at different areas. Bea watched his every move, her head swiveling to follow his progress. He returned with a grim look on his face.
“We broke an axle,” he reported.
Bea held two babies on her lap, rocking back and forth, trying to soothe them. “What are we going to do?”
“We’ll have to get the axle repaired, if we can. Or find a new one.”
“Ain’t no stations out here in the middle of nowhere.”
“No there isn’t. Luckily we’re almost to Albuquerque. How far did the last sign say we were from there?”
“Twelve miles. Aren’t you glad now that I pay attention to these things?”
“Yes I am. Twelve miles,” he paused, deep in thought. “Better’n fifty or a hunnred. I’ll have to take the axel into town. At least it’s a large enough town, it’ll be easy to find a repair shop.”
“How ya’ gonna get there?”
“I’ll have to walk. It’s a far piece, but I’ve a done it before. Gonna take me near most of the day. Prolly be dark before I get back, then I can fix it in the light of day tomorrow.”
“We have the money to get it fixed?”
“Don’t know. Guess’n I’ll find out when I get into town. Might use up the last of our gas money though. So, we may be a stayin’ in this part of the state until I figure out how to get enough cash to get us to California. Maybe we should of stayed in Misery.”
“Too late to think that now. Besides, life twasn’t doin’ us any better there.”
Casey ran his fingers through his hair, accenting the worry lines etches around his eyes. “Better get a move on. This thang ain’t gonna fix itself while I stand her flappin’ my jaws. Come on out, Mother. I need you and the chillin’s outta the car while I work on it.”