Prather’s Pick: A story of discovery |

Prather’s Pick: A story of discovery

Prather's Picks

My daughter-in-law Brandi (Prather), who lives in Kenai, Alaska, brought this week’s book to my attention. In fact, she brought it with her when she visited last week. She found out about the book from Marlie Johnson, sister of the book’s author, who lives in Kenai.

“The Drive in ’65: An Epic Road Tip, a Journey of Discovery” was written by Sandra Lynne Reed. The book is a true story—an incredible story—that began on May 22, 1964 with a trip that covered 22,000 miles, beginning in Alaska, crossing the states, and ending back in Alaska again.

The author’s parents had brought their seven kids from Smithtown, New York to Moose Pass, Alaska in 1945, and most of them still lived In Alaska in the 1960s.

It all began during Christmas of 1962, celebrated at Aunt Phyllis’s home in Moose Pass, Alaska. It was a big gathering that included about twenty cousins. The author remembers that the family made the annual call to Aunt Betty who lived in Virginia. Afterward, talk went to how much fun it would be to show up on Aunt Betty’s doorstep  and to visit the many cousins on Long Island—even the uncles in Florida. That’s how it started.

Plans escalated from there. Aunt Phyllis purchased a van in early 1964 and got her husband to modify it for sleeping accommodations and roof top storage. Modifications included a clever roll-up tent canopy on the side of the double doors, a slide-out extension out the back doors, an under-a-side canopy, and even bench slots. Kids worked for money to take along on the trip. It was quite an undertaking.

Then on May 22, 1965 two sisters (Phyllis and Winnie), 5 children, and a grandmother—8 people in a 9-passenger van—left to travel the states for 14 weeks. Author Sandra Lynne Reed was thirteen years old.

The group stopped at campgrounds along the way where, along with a camping space, they had running water, hot showers, and laundry accommodations. Along the way they answered lots of questions about Alaska. They saw incredible sights, including the World’s Fair in New York City, Arlington National Cemetery, Plymouth Rock, lightning bugs—and a lot more. In the end they achieved what many people doubted they could do—travel so many miles.

While on the trip the travelers kept track of the word’s events on a transistor radio. There were the Civil Rights demonstrations, the escalating war in Vietnam, the space race, and the rock and roll movement—to name a few. The book covers all of this, plus adventures with family members.

All the time, there were family changes going on at home, too. This part of the nonfiction book reads like a novel. The book is an interesting read!

“The Drive in ‘65” is published by Parenti Publishing (2020). It is available on Amazon where it received a rating of 4.5 stars. The paperback price is about $12.00, and shipping is about $3.99.

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