May 11, 2016

1950 road trip leads to reunion 66 years in the making

By Daniel Arens

From large cities to desolate scenery, from caves of bats to the streets of Hollywood -- five friends decided to make a personal dream a reality, to visit these places and many more.
Now, well over half a century later, these same friends gathered again to relive their experiences on another trip together. This trip, however, was down Memory Lane.
Allen Scherer, Wally Baier, Bennie Guenthner, Herbie Hintz, and Dennis Kirchmeier decided, rather spur of the moment, to make the trip of a lifetime in 1950. In 2016, the five friends, as well as several wives, gathered at Country Kettle, Beulah, to relive their experiences.
Their six-week, 5,000-mile-long trip to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, as well as a brief charter into Mexico, provided them with a wealth of experiences to relive. When they went on the trip, they were in their upper teens and early twenties. Now, all five are between the ages of 84 and 88 years old.
One memorable aspect of the trip was the two-door, hard-top ‘49 Catalina Pontiac they drove in. Guenthner recalled that he did all the driving.
During the trip, the friends stayed in motels along the way. As far as eating, Guenthner said, “Most of the time we ordered in the restaurant; sometimes we got some snacks.”
The initial point of the trip was to see Clint, Texas, although none of the friends remembered why this was a goal. They noted that, if you blinked, you would miss it, since Clint was literally a tiny village dotting the side of the road for a moment.
The friends recollected that their journey in San Francisco was made easier since Scherer had, at that time, recently met his future wife Bernice. Bernice’s sister Delores lived in San Francisco, and Bernice recommended the friends try and see her. Delores provided the five travelers with lots of help when they were in the city.
“She gave us a good tour,” Guenthner said.
Among the locations the friends went to in San Francisco with Delores was a tour boat past Alcatraz, the island that once housed an infamous federal penitentiary.
According to Guenthner, most of the trip was simply made up as they went along. One key location the friends remembered was Death Valley,
Another point of interest for the friends was how far money went in those good old days. Other than Scherer, who brought a little more than $150, most of the friends recalled a rough estimate of $80 per person for the six weeks.
where they swore the water in their bottles hung at the back of the car literally dried up.


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