The road trip that changed my life.

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

Spring Break 1970, and time to get out of town. 3 Bud’s in search of an adventure.

The questions:

What to do? Where to Go? How can we make it as uncomfortable as possible?

The answers:

Three-day road trip. Perdue University, and, “Let’s take my car” Doug said. “I’ve got a great sound system”.

That proved to be true. However, it was a 1965 VW Bug, with a reel-to-reel tape deck on the passenger front floor.

VW Beetle ready for a road trip.
Deceivingly small on the inside. Huh?

Doug was driving (his car), Charlie the shortest, occupied back seat with 3 luggage bags, and I folded my much younger 6’- 6” frame up front. At least I was in charge of the tunes.

Spinning Wheel, The Rapper, Green-Eyed Lady, American Woman, Momma told me not to come. All blasting the doors off. Listen, rewind, repeat.

First stop was Notre Dame to visit Terry Kelly my friend from St. Vincent HS.

Then on to Perdue to see Doug and Charlie’s friend Jim.

Six ear shattering, knee crunching hours later we arrived at the house he was sharing just off campus. He had 17 roommates, a lighted waterbed bladder with live goldfish, seating cushions filling the floors and guitars and bongos amongst the décor.

The ultimate Hippie haven, right!

Dinner that evening was at the I-Hop on a budget, pick up some beers for the prerequisite sing a long, to be capped by the entire version of Alice’s Restaurant ,with added verses.

Friday night crash on the floor, most of Saturday spent exploring the campus, see a few political war protests, another budget meal or two and back to the house only this time another guitarist and lots of folk songs and CCR.

Crash for the night, OJ and toast for breakfast and back to reality 7 hours later.

Here’s the best part.

Remember those pesky war protests?

I was in the Co-op Engineering program at Akron U. It was a work study program where you worked two 6 month stints between the semesters of your last two years of classes, with the promise of a job upon graduation.

I had two interviews scheduled the following week, Charlie accompanied me to Kodak for the first one, and a different group of us went to the NSA in Fort Meade, MD.

Thanks to my Uncle Ed our whole family had already passed basic security clearances, now just for the interview. Here is where it gets spooky,

“How was your trip to Perdue last week”?

It turns out the National Security Agency had that particular house under surveillance because of suspected SDS activity.

The Students for a Democratic Society posed a potential conflict if I was involved. I was not and I passed due to my ignorance of any sadistic plots, and I could actually have worked there except for the paranoia.

You never knew who was watching, your vacations were not private, and when you were hired you could not tell anybody what you did. Not even a wife or girlfriend.

My assignment was to be designing listening devices that were going to be put in chairs destined for the embassy b