Eureka Springs Independent Column

Looking at an old 1963 Eureka Springs Times-Echo newspaper, I found a photograph of John Cross holding the heads of an antelope and a deer. He’d just returned from a hunting trip where he’d also hunted grouse and partridges and toured Yellowstone National Park. I looked at that picture several times before I realized why my eye kept being drawn to it. Behind Mr. Cross is the International Travelall that would later become our family vehicle.

Fast forward a decade to Athens, Greece and that same International Travelall is rumbling through a crowd of anti-American demonstrators who are banging on the windows and yelling for the Yankees to go home. There is shouting about Henry Kissinger. Interesting times.

I have the vague memory of travelling from Eureka Springs to New York City in the International so that it could be shipped to Europe. Donnie Weems served with the Greek Navy on the Island of Salamina for three years. He had graduated from the Defense Language Institute and spoke the language. Daily he would either drive the International to the ferry or ride with coworkers.

Similar in size to a Suburban, the International Travelall was a 1962 model with a unique four wheel drive system. It seemed capable of going places that many vehicles were unable to go. I remember that my father was proud of how it had once rescued a newborn calf from death in deep snow.

So much bigger than the typical Greek vehicle, the Travelall made an impression on the locals and earned the nickname, “The Tank.” After some men tried to steal it, my father employed his electronics know-how to install an ignition lock that could only be overridden by a number code. Mounted on the large front bumper was a mechanical winch that Dad once used to hang the vehicle (or at least the front half) from a limb in a tree. I’m not exactly sure why.

The old International plays a distinct role in our family lore and my father never did part with it. It remains where he parked it last.