Blythe, CA. It was solid rain on Sunday, a day in which I was executing Plan B and not intending to ride.
The drive from Cathedral City across to the bus station in Indio is a 20-minute journey from great wealth to folks just getting by. We passed the grand tennis stadium at Indian Wells and then arrived at the makeshift Greyhound station next to the Union Pacific tracks.
Soon the eastbound bus arrived and three of us joined the two-dozen travelers already aboard. Indio and Blythe, an hour and a half farther on, are the only stops between Los Angeles and Phoenix.
As the bus made the long climb east out of Indio, I contemplated the story told to me by Hazel Shore, who had driven me to the station. Hazel, George Palmer’s wife of 30-years, is 70. She was born in Cape Town to a Jewish family of means. Her mother was German and had been a top athlete in Berlin until forced into exile, first to England and then to South Africa. Hazel grew up speaking German as well as English.
Like her mother Hazel was a star tennis player and after coming to the States in the late 60’s coached tennis in L.A. Sometime in the 1980s Hazel made it her project to have the Charlottenburg Sports Club in Berlin come to terms with its Nazi past and admit that it had expelled four top Jewish athletes only weeks after Hitler came to power in 1933. Hazel is satisfied with the result.
On the bus the woman in the next seat told me her story. En route to visit her sick mother in Phoenix, the woman’s son had been a pitcher with the Houston Astros when that team played in the World Series. Understandably proud of her son’s achievement, she carefully removed from a plastic folder in her purse four baseball cards that bore his likeness.
At 1 p.m. the bus arrived in Blythe where the rain continued and the wind blew. I took refuge in the adjacent Comfort Inn, prepared for my Hong Kong broadcasts and began the process of waiting out the wind and rain.