It seems fitting that my first post should be about my first postcard. Our next door neighbor, Marianne, went on a family vacation to Iowa and sent me a picture of the Queen on Lake Okoboji. Now Iowa may not rank among exotic destinations in your book, but it was farther than I had ever traveled from southern California. She even flew on a plane—hot stuff in 1966. Hers was the first card in a collection that now numbers hundreds, many sent by me to my parents with strict instructions to SAVE THIS POSTCARD. I’m not sure which makes me laugh more, Marianne’s message, “I am having a wonderful time. I almost had to have my tonsils out,” or the photo caption that proclaims the Queen the flag ship of the Iowa Navy.
Like a time machine, that boat sails me back to childhood. The Helms bakery truck still drove through the neighborhood with pull-out shelves of fresh bread and maple bars. I rode my bike to school and once carried home in its basket a tortoise found strolling down the middle of the street. (My sister named him Zowzalie Parcheesie, which is perhaps why he escaped from our backyard as soon as possible.) We watched westerns and the British pop invasion on a black and white TV, drank Tang like the astronauts, and paid 5¢ to mail a postcard if we were lucky enough to travel to distant climes, like Iowa.