Photographs by my sister, Susan Hartnett, on her recent trip to Home Leave territory

The road to California runs flat through swaths of prairie in all directions with barely a windbreak or silo to challenge the vista. This is cowboy and Indians country. Even in summer, the grass whispers of loneliness. I bunch my sweater into a pillow, lulled by the soft familiar tones of Mom and Dad speaking quietly in the front seat.

when the dictator flew over our house & other true stories: an american embassy family memoir,
1962 home leave
Custer State Park, photo by Susan Hartnett

Dad’s whirring movie camera follows our journey. An Indian at Mount Rushmore, a pioneer days parade in Deadwood, big brown bears wandering across the road in Yellowstone. I taste the Great Salt Lake, and the pain behind my ears flashes hot. I have the mumps.

WHEN THE DICTATOR FLEW OVER OUR HOUSE & OTHER TRUE STORIES: AN AMERICAN EMBASSY FAMILY MEMOIR,
1962 HOME LEAVE
Custer State Park, photo by Susan Hartnett

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