Soon after the Dorpat family got “the call” in 1946 to move from Grand Forks, North Dakota to Spokane, Washington, we were visited by Annie Crabtree, a “spinster lady” who was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Grand Forks and was attached to my parents and lonely for them. So she was invited west for a visit.
Annie Crabtree was as skinny as a barber’s pole, wore thick glasses over a handsome nose, had a big mouth with big teeth, wore dark dresses printed with patterns of tiny white flowers and adorned with fancywork at the neck and wrists. The only flesh anyone ever saw of Annie Crabtree was her face and hands. She never called my parents by their first names, but always Pastor Dorpat and Mrs. Dorpat and yet she was older than both of them. She was less a friend than a votary. She had spent some time in some institution, and my parents had helped get her out.
For some reason Annie Crabtree was taken from the safety of our Spokane parsonage for a trip in the family’s 1946 Plymouth sedan to this prospect overlooking Lewiston Idaho. Like Horace – and at about the same time – we stopped here at the edge. This interruption was for Annie, and not the view. She was getting carsick and we were about to drop more than 2000 feet through a score of switchbacks.
I remember this vividly for it was at that moment looking south over the Snake River valley that I got my first inkling of the “horrors of travel,” that someone could get sick from merely riding in a car. With lots of talk we made it down those curves with Annie and back up them. For me, the child, it was thrilling but also troubling. Now I am more like Annie Crabtree and wonder at and sometimes sicken from all the exposed swerving.