Summer ’77. It was time for Troy to enter the “Student House,” an experiment in which 6th through 8th grade kids were housed in our Chicago headquarters building under the supervision of some “responsible adults,” to spend the school year in the Chicago public schools. Linda, Eric and I received our assignments at the end of July. We were to be Priors of the Boston Religious House. Along with this came an added benefit. We got to rent a very large U-Haul truck and drive it across the country, making stops at half the Houses in the U.S., picking up and dropping off belongings of other re-assigned families. We could take our family “discontinuity” time (our term for vacations, a concept that was not in our vocabulary) along the way, as long as we showed up in Boston by the end of August. We decided to make an adventure of it. Even Eric got into the spirit and we were to have many “tailgate picnics” as well as those in city/town public parks. Our journey took us to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New --York, Hartford, and ended in Boston, all during one of the hottest summers on record. Our only expenses were gas and meals, for which we were reimbursed. Lodging wasn’t a problem, since each House put us up for a night or two, requiring very few motel stays. At today’s gas prices that trip might have bankrupted the Order, but a gallon was only about 70 cents that year, compared to 4 dollars today.
It was truly a family adventure, as we tried to soak up a little of the local culture and history of each town and state as we passed through. We imagined ourselves “reverse pioneers” retracing the steps of our forebears who made the trek west by wagon train. Amazingly, there was not a single breakdown of our trusty steed, not even a flat tire, the whole way. The weather was hot but without storms, except for that one huge dust storm we observed but thankfully were not caught in as we drove through Utah.
We arrived at our new home at 27 Dartmouth, Boston, Mass. on time and intact, greeted by the outgoing Priors, the Wiltses, who were heading for their new assignment in Seattle. We were soon to be joined by our other two House members, Nancy Trask and Tom Reemtsma, with whom we would spend the next year.