The summer between eighth and ninth grades, my father sent me to Los Angeles, California, to stay with my brother, Al, his wife, Donna, and their two daughters, Terri, 5, and Suzette, 3. I was 14-years-old, and I made the 3-day trip alone and with practically no money! I didn't plan appropriately ahead of time for what I would eat on this trip, and I should have asked for money. For the entire three days, all I ate was one hamburger, French fries, and a Coke. That was a special on the train for $0.99. I wore a dark brown shirtwaist dress trimmed in white piping around the waist and along the buttons from neck to waistline, and by the third day, it was getting wrinkled from wear and sleeping upright on the seat. From Penn Station in Pittsburgh, the old and dirty Pennsy Railroad train took me to Chicago where I needed to change trains. When I got there, I was directed to a desk with two social workers, who questioned me because they thought I was a runaway! I gave them my home phone number and Al's number, so they must have called one place or the other and confirmed that I was, indeed, on my way to Los Angeles under my family's permission.
The second half of the trip was luxurious compared to the first. These train cars were clean, sleek, and modern. I walked a bit through the different cars and even rode in one whose top was entirely glass. I watched the sky as we moved along the track. The scenery was beautiful, but I was getting tired of it by the time we got close to San Bernardino. I used a map to follow our progress all the way, and, when I saw San Bernardino was sixty-miles from my destination of Los Angeles, I was so happy! Those sixty miles took the longest! Al and Donna were there to pick me up and drive us back to Hacienda Heights, where they lived. And thus began one of the best summers of my life.