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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Grampa Bob (1922-2007)

Grampa will not soon be forgotten. I'm not the person to write a eulogy. Instead I thought I'd paste in some of his words. He had a lot of stories. This is a snip of a story that I think bears retelling again and again. And I think it's one of the quickest ways to get to know something about the man:

My wife and I became interested in traveling to Mexico and the Latin American countries in the early Sixties. One summer, with vacation thoughts uppermost in mind, I suggested we contact all the embassies'' consuls of all of the Latin American countries to obtain visas. We did this. What next? A travel agency to arrange a trip to Panama.

We, in our innocence, contacted a local, small travel agency. The congenial tourist bureau employee did his research. He found a Norwegian freighter leaving for Panama in two weeks. There was an opening for two passengers. I wanted to drive from Panama back to California on the Pan American Highway. Our travel man said he could arrange for our Volkswagen to be put aboard the ship for our trip. I contacted a firm in El Monte, California, who converted the VW bug to a bed for two for a very reasonable price. I bought screens for the front windows. I figured the jungle in Central America would be rather warm for sleeping.

We and our Volks boarded our ship in Southern California in June of 1962. The understanding on a tramp steamer is the ship can stop, pick up freight wherever it is required on the trip from start to completion. The crew and officers were most gracious. There were about ten other passengers on our adventure. We had movies at dinner in Norwegian. An officer would translate for us. The bar was open as long as you wished, and no bill until departure.

We arrived in Panama after about a week of idyllic sailing. My first encounter was with an officious American inspector. And my Volkswagen was the bug in his bonnet. I was missing some papers he felt I should have. He informed me my car would be impounded until I produced the papers he required. I watched them drive my Volks into a fenced impound lot. That jerk now had a set of keys - but no car. I stole it from the lot and drove it with all our possessions into the heart of Panama City, with 10,000 other Volkswagens that all look alike.

There's a lot more story. Contact me if you'd like to read more. I'll point you in the right direction

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