Part 3 and Closure to Cruising Route 66 with Dad
We had just passed the sign welcoming us to Lincoln, Illinois when rain buckets fell from the sky, a welcome respite from the intense heat. Dad pulled over under a viaduct and put the top up.
“Everything all right back there? Hey guys, my cap?” Ron, who had just woken up, looked at me. I looked at him. The jig was up! “Oh everything’s great Dad. Are we almost there?” Ron and I responded simultaneously, as if we had rehearsed it.
“No. We’ve got quite a ways yet.”
“Dad, is there another Dog ‘n Suds coming up?” Ron asked.
“Yea! Hey Dad, I’m really thirsty,” I chimed in.
“Thirsty? You haven’t even finished off my root beer.”
‘Uh, oh, do you think … ?’ Ron and I looked dumbly at each other.
You may find this incredible, but when nothing short of an “Act of
God”-what the Hebrews to this very day in their orthodox
congregations refer to as a “ra-ash gadol” (an extraordinarily loud
noise of which God alone is capable) might have, at least, delayed
the revelation of the awful truth … the thunderous collision of storm
clouds, which must have been felt as far back as Litchfield, so
startled me that I spilled the remainder of Dad’s root beer on Ron’s
“Hey, watch out, will ya? Oh my god! Dad!”
“What? What happened?” Dad spun around.
“Dad, it was an accident. I swear. Ron, really! It was.”
“Okay, fellas, no harm done, right?”
“Yea, except to my shirt Dad,” Ron muttered.
‘Would Ron now become my accuser? Nah, not Ron.’
My God! What the hell was that?” Dad exhaled.
The overpass had quacked down to its very rivets of which I had a vision of its total collapse.
The downpour, according to local weather reports, came and went within five minutes, leaving behind an incredible three inches of rain and causing the temperature to drop by fifteen degrees. A rainbow appeared. Who knows? It may well have been, like folks often say, an act of God. (To those very same folks I’d put the question: ‘To Whom, other than God, could you possibly attribute the rainbow?’)
Dad put the top back down and pulled off his shirt. Driving the rest of the way while sunbathing, Dad looked more carefree than even the glamorous people on the highway billboards whose windswept hair would have been no match for Dad’s had he still the red wavy locks of his youth.
Dad never inquired about it again. Had he actually seen it happen or simply put two and two together? Frankly, as important as it seems, the only thing that really mattered was Dad chose not to confuse the dollar value of the cap with the familial value of our vacation.
‘Better a man should lose his cap than his temper,’ a remarkable lesson Dad taught us about restraint in life and wisdom in parenting.
And so we headed into Chicago, the Windy City, known for its blusterous politicians and blustery winds about which any seasoned Chicagoan can verify that unless your hand is atop your head you may just lose your cap.