Continued from Escape!

Her lawyer swallowed hard when she announced that she’d hired a moving van to pack up the furniture. “To where will you be moving, Yry?” asked Mr. Oppenheimer.

“To Laramie, Wyoming,” she announced breezily.

“Where is Laramie?”

“About 130 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado.”

 “But what on earth will you do out there? My goodness, that’s wild country. Are you sure you want to go there all alone?” he asked, brows furrowed.

 “I won’t be alone. I’ll have the kids.” Her eyebrow arched, a signal that further conversation would be unwise. “After I get established—get the girls in school and learn the lay of the land—I’ll get into ranching.” She ignored the half-smile that Oppie squelched by clamping his lips against each other.

Her next order of business was to locate a car. She’d never needed nor desired to drive in New York. She admittedly knew next to nothing about cars, though she had learned to drive a stick shift while living in Sheridan. She instructed Fred to find her a reliable used car that could deliver her across the country. Fred reluctantly laid out $750 for a three-year old Chrysler sedan.

With the ginormous furniture—including her mother’s grand piano—packed into the Grey Line van and on its slow journey west, mother stuffed food, clothing, Joan, and me into the Chrysler, characteristically using every available square inch of space. Fred shoved a AAA membership into the car, along with a stack of maps and AAA trip tics outlining a safe journey across eight states. In late June 1957, the Stein brothers and their families waved goodbye and murmured prayers for a safe journey. Yanking the heavy driver door shut, my mother moved her inexperienced right foot from the brake to the accelerator and released the clutch to launch the car into a crow-hopping gallop down the street while her worried onlookers waved and blew kisses and hugs, shaking their heads in disbelief that she was actually following through on this folly.

So began our great adventure. I was four and half years old; my memories of the trip are sparse. But the few I have are vivid.