The trailer was loaded and hitched to the rear of a 1946 Plymouth sedan in preparation for our move to Arizona. No doubt Mother was hopeful that things were going to be better for us. Vernon was working steady as a security guard and had rented a house, so all that remained was for us to get to Arizona.
My mother, a lone woman with ten children in her car and a trailer in tow, pulled out mid-morning to begin the trek of our lives from Arkansas to Arizona. Carefully stowed in the trunk were fried chicken and biscuits that someone had prepared for our first meal on the road. As best I can document, it was February 1958. I do not recall how many days we were on the road, but it had to be two or three. Nevertheless, Mother drove relentlessly across the wide prairie of Texas.
The fried chicken was our last taste of home as we knew it. When it was time to feed her brood again, Mother simply found a grocery store where she would purchase bread, baloney (she could not afford bologna!) and milk. My youngest brother was still in diapers and not the disposable kind! I had just turned 12 years old, so that gives you a picture of how close in age we ten children were. Close in age and close in proximity in that car as we rolled off the miles. Mother finally reached her limit somewhere in New Mexico where she pulled into a rest area, a primitive oasis by comparison to today’s roadside facilities, and slept for a time. Piled on top of each other, we children slept out of sheer exhaustion.
Our guardian angels were already on overload when, in what must have been the very early morning hours, we crossed from New Mexico into Arizona and headed into the mountains. Up, up, up we climbed only to find ourselves going down, down, down and around monstrous curves. It was not long before the brakes were burning. Mother had never driven in terrain such as this, plus she had the trailer in tow. While there was risk that the brakes might fail, the specter of the gas needle nearing empty brought greater fear to Mother’s heart. A resourceful woman, she managed to coast where she could to get enough momentum to make it up the next climb. Daylight had not yet broken as we literally crawled into a gas station in Superior, Arizona. We slept while waiting for the station to open.
With both the car and our stomachs refueled, we pressed on and made it safely to Phoenix. Our new house was quite nice by comparison to what we had experienced. We began the process of settling in, enrolling in school and acclimating to our new surroundings.
As a twelve-year-old girl experiencing this trip, I did not grasp the magnitude of the situation nor did I recognize the protection and provision that came from God. I just knew I had a Mother that always came through, no matter what the challenge. Her strength and determination to do what she thought was best for her children always carried the day. She was an amazing woman, and she deserved far better than what was waiting for her in Arizona.