Today’s post isn’t so much a post as it is a visual travelogue. While scanning hundreds of loose negatives that once belonged to my grandparents, I’ve found about 40 photos that appear to document two trips that Vernon Black and his sons Keith and Gary (and probably his wife Dorothy, too, although she doesn’t appear in any of the photos) made from California back to Vernon’s childhood home in Kansas.
For those of you who didn’t previously know about these trips, please enjoy the photos. For those of you who either went on the trip or were among those who hosted and/or visited with the Black family on their travels, please spill all you know about these trips in the comments section below. Whether you remember details of the trips, can recognize any of the Kansas relatives in the shots, or can help fill in the story of these trips, please share that information with the rest of us!
The trips documented by these photos were taken before the great boom in interstate highway building that began when President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 into law on June 29, 1956. Hence, the number of available routes from Los Angeles to Kansas was much smaller than it is today. (Update: cousin Sharon Black reports that her dad George Black remembers that they made one of these trips to Kansas in 1953). That fact, combined with the identifiable locations they photographed along the way, helps narrow down the possible routes they took. It appears that they took Route 66 to Oklahoma, then cut north to Kansas (probably along Route 77/81. They appear to have taken a side trip up to Iowa, and then they returned to California along a more northerly route, traveling through Colorado (probably via Routes 24 and 50).
These first few shots appear to be California landscapes consistent with heading out on Route 66, but I can’t be sure that they’re from the Kansas trips. I include them here just in case they are from one of these trips.The station wagon in the middle of the shot is the car they drove to Kansas.I don’t recognize this vista point. It appears to be either in California or Colorado.After leaving California and crossing into Nevada, they visit Hoover Dam.
In Arizona, they took a detour along Route 64 to see the Grand Canyon.
Soon afterwards, they entered Navaho territory and saw a herd of sheep (probably churro sheep) being tended.They crossed into New Mexico and saw a trading post. This trading post is probably in or near Albuquerque, New Mexico (possibly the Santo Domingo Trading Post, which advertised “Where Real Indians Trade”).This appears to be the Rio Grande river, just outside of Albuquerque.Entering the Texas panhandle. Notice the graffiti by proud citizens of the towns of Paducah and Brownwood, Texas.
Having a Kansas Farm Experience™
What do city kids do when they visit a working Kansas farm? Apparently they drive around on tractors. (Note: beginning with these photos, there are a lot of people I don’t recognize. If you know any of these people—besides Keith, Gary, and Vernon—please let me know in the comments section.) You can’t visit a farm without riding horses.Follow a sow and her piglets around.
Pose with a coyote (or a dog that looks like a coyote).
Who do you think you’re looking at?
What about the barn? You’ve got to see what’s going on down near the barn.
While not strictly a farm experience, how cool is it to have a grandfather with a working Model A? That’s Vernon’s father, Frank Black, posing with Keith and Gary.
On the way home (or possibly as a side trip from Kansas), they visited Iowa, the birthplace and home state of Vernon’s mother Catalina Edel.I think this is a windmill in Iowa near where Catalina’s Dutch family lived amongst a fair number of other immigrants from Holland.Entering Colorado.They visited the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave in Golden, Colorado.Buffalo Bill’s grave.Posing with the grizzly bear statue (Grizzly’s Last Stand) in Denver, Colorado.
And those are the photos I’ve found so far of this particular trip to Kansas. There were apparently a few others around the same time, including one a couple of years later when someone had a color film camera.
A Later Trip
And that’s it for now. Please let me know what you know about these trips, the people they visited while on these trips, or anything else you’d like to share about the Kansas and Iowa branches of our family.