Book Excerpt:

It was a hot night in late June 1966. Eighteen-year-old Misty and her twelve-year-old brother, Jeremy, were in the recreation room of their home in the Chevy Chase suburb of Washington, D.C. They were watching summer reruns of their favorite TV shows while their parents were at a neighborhood party. Misty had just graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and had plans to attend the University of Maryland in the fall.

It was nearly 7:45 p.m., and Misty’s boyfriend, Tom Salmonti, was due to call any minute. The work shift at his summer gas station job would be ending soon. After a few minutes, the phone rang and Jeremy raced to reach it. “Hello men’s room,” he answered.

“Don’t answer the phone saying stuff like that,” said Misty. “What’s the matter with you?”

Tom laughed at Jeremy’s prank and asked for Misty. “You want Gertie,” said Jeremy, “Gertie, the dirty birdie?”

“Cut it out, Jeremy,” said Misty, whose real name was Gertrude Pauline Klotz. She grabbed the phone saying “I hate that name. Why did they ever name me Gertrude?  Grrrr! You’d think Klotz was bad enough, but they had to add insult to injury. Well at least I adopted the cool nickname of Misty.”

“Oh hi, Tom,” said Misty, changing her voice from harsh to pleasant. “Sorry you had to hear me blow up, but Jeremy is really being bad.”

“That’s okay,” said Tom. “I just got home. How’d you like to go down and cruise the Pit (Bob’s Burger Pit Drive-In restaurant) and see who’s hanging out?”

“That would be great,” said Misty, “but I’m stuck here babysitting wonder twerp and we would have to take him along.”

“Well, we can stuff him in the trunk or something,” said Tom.

“Oh, anything to shut him up,” said Misty.

“I’ll pick you up in 45 minutes, after I get out of the shower and fly on over,” said Tom.

“Okay bye,” said Misty, as she hung up while dodging a pillow thrown by Jeremy.

“Listen, Jer,” said Misty. “Tom is coming over to take us to the Pit. I want you to act normal for once in your life and sit in the back seat and keep your big mouth shut. If you can’t do that, I’ll have Tom tie you up and gag you and shove you in the trunk, like he just told me.”

“Oh yeah, Gertie,” said Jeremy, “you just try. I’ll tell Mom and Dad.”

It was 8:30 p.m., and Misty and Jeremy sat on their front porch waiting. Soon came the deep-throated rumble of Tom’s car with its hot rod exhaust system. They could hear it from half a mile away. It grew louder and louder, and soon Tom pulled his shiny red customized 1957 Chevy Impala convertible (with the top down) into the driveway. He revved the engine twice and turned off the ignition.

“Well stump jumper,” said Jeremy to Tom. “What are you doing here? Didn’t you know you died two weeks ago? I guess no one bothered to tell you.”

“Be quiet, Jeremy,” said Misty, “and cut out all of the nonsense. She opened the car door and pulled the seat forward to let Jeremy into the back.

But Jeremy, with ideas of his own, ran to the open convertible, slapped his hands onto the side, and vaulted right in saying, “Ride ‘em cowboy, yee-hah.”

“You little idiot,” said Tom. “You’ll ruin my custom paint job and rolled and pleated interior.

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