We were a couple of kids. Patty and I wanted to go to a basketball game. We’d been to lots of games at the high school. They’d all been at the school we went to, the one a few blocks from my house. This was an away game. We wanted to drive over there on a Friday evening. I’d been on trips before, but this would be the first time on our own.
We were both loners, not a lot of friends. There never was a discussion about getting together with a group of friends to make the trek, we just wanted to go. Just the two of us.
Looking back on it, I wonder how we ever figured out how to make it happen. The freeway did go from Jamestown to Valley City. This was the mid sixties, wasn’t it? Compared to what we have today, so much was missing. I probably had a map. It would have been the good old paper map produced by the North Dakota Tourism board. It had detail on every exit of the freeway, so we knew that there were only a couple of options to get off the highway to get into town. The map also had an insert describing the town. It might have had the local high school marked.
Those insert maps had about one street in ten marked. There was nothing like Google Street View; no turn by turn instructions. What if I made a wrong turn? There were a lot of streets in Valley City. Even today I don’t know where most of them go. Would I have been totally lost? Today I’m so dependent on Garmin and Google that the thought of heading out for the unknown with only a state map sends chills down my back.
Now every time we take off on a journey I’m investing in paper maps, looking at Google, downloading maps from Garmin, and looking at tour books from the library. None of that happened when I was sixteen. We just headed out to I-94 East. Take the Valley City exit, the first one, then turn left at the stop light. You can’t miss it.
My mother let me do that. Patty’s dad let her head off to the wilderness with me. What the hell was he thinking? No cell phone. I wonder if we even had a pocket full of dimes to make a long distance phone call if something happened. And if there was trouble what could Mom or Dad have done? We were alone.
I don’t remember any of that trepidation. We were just proud. Our parents let us head out for an adventure. An all day adventure. We were on our own in a strange town. Far from home. Thirty miles away. We felt so grown up.
Today my little brain fills with all sorts of terrible possibilities. On that Friday night nothing exciting happened. No breakdowns. No getting lost. We saw a basketball game. An away game. No disasters. I don’t remember if there was a good night kiss.
When I went looking for a photo for this post I found the picture of Patty which you see above. I also found the Jamestown yearbook for that year. It wasn’t a good year for the Jamestown Blue Jays. We lost the game in Valley City, in fact we lost most of the games that year.