Thursday, January 8, 2009

RIGHT TIME,WRONG STATION

In November of 1977 I traveled by bus from Hartford,Connecticut to Los Angeles,California.

The original plan was that my friend John DeStefano (current mayor of New Haven) and I would travel together on the same Greyhound bus out to California. John and I both lived on the same floor of Crandall D, a coed dormitory at the University of Connecticut. John wanted to visit his girlfriend Kathy,(also from UCONN ) who was out in California already with a couple of her girlfriends and living near Santa Barbara.

I called John with a change of plans as I decided to work election day as a poll machine attendant in Simsbury, Connecticut to pick up a little extra spending money. I told John to go ahead with his scheduled bus trip and to call me when he got out to California and I would tell him the day and time of my scheduled arrival so he could meet me at the bus station. So, John was on his way.

A little over three days later John called me and said he is out on the left coast. I told John that
instead of taking the northern route by Greyhound bus I was going to take the southern route and travel by Trailways bus and that I was scheduled to be in Los Angeles at 5:00 am a little over three days later.

Both Greyhound and Trailways had a promotion at the time where you could travel anywhere in America for $79. S0 my adventure began. The southern Trailways route to California consisted of traveling from Hartford to New York City, New York to Washington,DC; Washington to Dallas,Texas and then Dallas to Los Angeles.

Traveling by bus across American really gives you an idea of how big this country is versus flying. It took over a day to cross through Texas alone. The whole trip took eighty hours (three days and eight hours). There were of course stops along the way across the country in addition to the scheduled bus changes. We would stop at different cities to pick up and drop off people along the way and also various highway restaurants at all hours of the day and night.

After the eighty hour trip I arrived at the Trailways station in Los Angeles at 5:00 am. Eighty hours on a bus leaves you a little disoriented as it is hard to get a good night's sleep and there was no place or time for taking a shower. I departed the bus and commenced waiting for John to meet me. Time went by and it was noon and John hadn't arrived yet. I didn't have any telephone number for John and thought to myself hmmmm. it looks like my vacation plans may have to change.

I left the bus station, which was not located in the most posh part of LA, and walked down the street to the Hotel Cecil. Hotel Cecil was an approximately 800 room older slummy kind of place but they had a large sign painted on the side of the building saying "Rooms from $8.00 per night". The price seemed right although for $8.00 you have to use the bathroom down the hall so I "upgraded" to a room with a shower stall for $12.00 per night and paid the man behind the bullet proof glass for three nights. I took a shower, and decided to take a short nap after brushing the hairs found on the sheets, and brushing away a few bugs as well.

As I didn't have John's phone number in California, I decided that I would call John's mom in New Haven on the chance that he may have called her and given her a phone number (no cell phones back then). I reached Judy (John's mom) and she said that no John hadn't given her a call.

I got to thinking maybe John thought that my bus was due into LA at 5 in the afternoon instead of morning. I also thought maybe he thought that I traveled by Greyhound as that was the way he traveled across the country. I went down the street to the Greyhound station and went up to the second level where there was a small luncheon restaurant. There was a pinball machine in the restaurant so I decided to play a few games. I'm playing away at the machine and someone taps me on the back. There was John.

John waited for me on time at the Greyhound station at 5 in the morning along with Kathy and her girlfriends. When I didn't show up at the Greyhound station they went to Universal Studios for the day. After their day at the park they decided to look again for me at 5 in the afternoon and there I was.