Trippin’: Roads, Rails, and Mountain Trails
Episode 38, July 1971
We parked the trailer in the woods, forty yards from Mabel Nuttkake’s house. The home was on a dead-end dirt road, secluded from neighbors by an eighth of a mile in either direction. At 3400 feet, the mountain temperatures beat the valley heat, and my trailer was shaded by oaks and firs. The day after we arrived, and a day before Mabel was scheduled to leave, Sam and Lil showed up. We strolled over to their car to say hello.
Sam didn’t hesitate to start his banter. “Damn, Rosie, you haven’t dumped this loser yet?”
Rosie laughed. “What can I say? He’s great in bed. He’s my man slave.”
Lil said, “Weird Richard, a man slave? I like the sound of that.”
I turned to Sam and said, “I told you we should have nipped that women’s lib thing in the bud. Look at what the world's come to?”
Sam said, “Let 'em think what they want. They’re just jealous cause they don’t have balls.”
Lil quipped back, “You just can’t see them cause we keep ‘em on the inside.”
With no response to that, I changed the subject. “Did you come up to see your mom off?”
Sam laughed. “Actually, we were afraid you guys would get lonely. We got a wild hair and decided to stay up here for the summer. I ditched the idea of summer school.”
“Great.” Having Sam and Lil around would be a kick. We helped them unload, and the next day Sam drove Mabel to catch her plane. Sam’s younger brother, Lonnie, was also living there. Lonnie was pretty crazy and provided some comical chaos to the otherwise serene environment.
Rosie and I worked on our homesteader's book a little every day. We would each write a chapter or two, and then go over our work together until we got it right. I was enjoying writing and it was exciting to watch the publication take shape.
We explored the town of Quincy and hiked with Sam and Lil throughout Plumas County. Sam had grown up in this small town and when we went into a bar or cafe, he'd kick the shit around with a whole range of townsfolk. It didn’t matter if they were doctors, judges, cops, butchers, bakers, or construction workers. No one was immune to Sam’s fiery tongue and prolific jibs and jabs. And most had a quick retort of their own.
The last time I stopped to visit my parents, I came across some joke bubblegum cards from when I was a kid. They were actually postcards with a space on the backside for a short message, address, and stamp. The fronts had a color picture with part of a joke that would be completed when you flipped the card over.
One showed a cute girl on the front with her hand concealing her mouth. Underneath were the words, “You have the cutest little eyes, the cutest little nose…” When you turned the card over, the words read, “and the cutest little mustache!” along with a picture revealing her bushy upper lip. Another said, “You look like a million dollars ... all green and wrinkled! I was looking through an assortment of different joke-cards while Rosie cooked scrambled eggs.
“Hey, Rosie. Why don’t we send these out to our friends?”
“Yeah. We could compose a weird letter and post them anonymously.”
“Ha. We could make up names. I like Wilma.”
“I’ll be Fred.”
“Fred and Wilma. Perfect.”
“If we send them from Quincy, they’ll figure out we sent them."
Rosie scratched her head. “We’ll be down in Winters next week. We could put them in the mail then.”
“No. People will know when we would visit there. How about we mail them as we pass through Sacramento? We can send one to Sam and Lil … and even one to ourselves to throw people off.”
“Wonderful! This is going to be fun.”
“We can’t tell anyone. People won’t be able to figure it out if we act as baffled as they do.”
And so that is how it came to be that the folks in Winters, Davis, and Quincy, including ourselves, received the following note on a joke card:
Wilma got hit in the mouth by a crusty sail frog,
but it didn't knock out either of her teeth.
Fred slipped on a saucy-ripe cow pie.
Ain’t life a gem?
Love, Fred and Wilma Blatz
P.S. Happy Horse lips
For months, our friends were musing over where the funky messages came from. We mused along with them, never revealing our secret.
For those of you who don't know:
A "sail frog" is a big, sun-baked, run-over toad found on a country road. They are so flat and hard, you could sail them through the air with a flick of the wrist—if you had a mind to.
One day, when Rosie and I were returning from a walk, I spotted Lil and Sam coming towards us from the house. Lil was in a rare uproar about something not left the way she wanted in the bathroom. As the confrontation continued and with them now standing before us, I unconsciously watched her mouth move as she ranted, no longer hearing her words. Then Lil turned to Sam and said, “See what I mean—he leaves.”
I realized at that moment that I own a defense mechanism that allowed me to check out of uncomfortable situations. It was similar to what happened during a motorcycle accident. When I saw pain coming, I left until things settled down. I never realized that I also used this procedure for minor confrontations, escaping into a silent movie of dancing lips. It kept me mellow and helped me react rationally after the event. How lucky is that?
Thanks, Lil! I never would have noticed if you hadn’t pointed it out.
To be continued...
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Trippin': Roads, Rails & Mountain Trails
In book 2 of his Hippie Adventurer Series, Rich takes us on another wild ride during the 1960s as he and his faithful canine companion, Charlie, hitchhike, hop freights, work in an Alaskan gold mining camp, and manage a Sacramento Valley cattle ranch.
A Message from Rich
Trippin’ is my gift to all of you. For me, the ’60s were a heartfelt time of growth, exploration, freedom, and brotherhood. I hope to impart a truthful account of what it was like to live as a hippie in that wacky, magical era. Enjoy the journey!
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If you haven’t read the first book in the Hippie Adventurer Series, the award-winning Groovin’: Horses, Hopes, and Slippery Slopes, you can find it on Amazon and Audible.
1A. Escape from Heavy Caverns