Friday, January 22, 1999

'79 Chevy helps find direction of America

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cesar Becerra and his wife, Maud Dillingham, talked to Campbell County High School student about driving across America.
(Patrick Reddy photo)

| ZOOM |
        ALEXANDRIA — Cesar Becerra and his wife, Maud Dillingham, are motoring into the millennium by traveling to all 50 states in their 1979 Chevy station wagon.

        Along the way, the couple stops at high schools and state capitols to talk with folks about their thoughts and fears for the future.

        On Thursday the station wagon, painted like an American flag and with a map of the nation on its hood, pulled up to Campbell County High School.

        “Heading into the new century, we've got all this technology. Cell phones, fax machines, computers,” Mr. Becerra, 26, said to a group of juniors and seniors. “You sort of need to throw all that stuff away because you don't really know what will happen. This is a very uncertain time.”

        Mr. Becerra and Ms. Dillingham, 28, left their home in Miami on Jan. 1. They've been through Florida, Alabama and Tennessee. Three governors have signed the hood of their car.

        They print a weekly newsletter about the things they see and the people they meet. A Web site tracks their journey. Most noticeable so far: the suburban sprawl that is making most of America look the same.

        “It's kind of sad in a way,” Ms. Dillingham said. “You see the city centers and they are all different. But then there's always the Wal-Mart and the same stores and we feel comfortable in that.”

        The Chevy seemed to speak the most to students, illustrating the couple's de sire to create a documentary that will tell future generations what people felt, feared and hoped for in 1999.

        “This looks better than I thought it would,” junior Daniel Moore said, standing near the Chevy.

        Restored to near-new condition, the Chevy looks well-lived in. There are music cassettes of Prince, The Beastie Boys, Bob Dylan, The Temptations, Neil Diamond and Cuban music. Maps. A laptop computer. A cell phone.

        The couple is reaching out to students because they will be the adults of the new millennium, said Mr. Becerra, who teaches history at the college and elementary level.

        Before coming to the high school, Mr. Becerra asked students in Jeff Bessiker's class to write their thoughts about this time in the nation's life.

        Sarah K. Brown, a junior, said she thinks the middle class might be eliminated because of technology. “We'll just have the haves and the have nots.”

        Elizabeth Trapp, a senior, said the changes are a little frightening.

        “I think all the technology is scary,” she said. “I base my dreams on what adults have done. That might not hold true 10 years from now. That's scary.”

        Another student was more relaxed about it all, “I think it's just going to be another year, man.”

        Follow the cross-country journey of Cesar Becerra and Maud Dillingham on their Web site:


operators shouldn't get second chance
911 workers want furor behind them
Two black students charged in racial vandalism at Miami
Dad: Leader of student group wasn't brought up that way
Rapist, 15 county's youngest inmate
Budget woes crimp lead paint program
Family's dream house became nightmare
- '79 Chevy helps find direction of America
City OKs $14.6 M addition to budget
Other Lighthouse Vision Award winners
Lighthouse Vision Award finalists
Drug sweeps net 30 arrests
Drug arrests make difference quickly
Guard allegedly got drugs into LCI
Motorist guilty of assault
Worker dies under concrete slab
Butler Co. computers sore point
City board puts bingo hall plans on 1-month hold
Family, slavery in old Boone
Father denies he hit baby
Flood project clears a hurdle
Ft. Washington Way to close eastbound Saturday
Hands off settlement money, state officials tell feds
Kenwood doctor shares tips on living
Mentor push coming next week
Monroe to charge developers
Mt. Lookout man indicted on child porno charges
Panel decides Williams was not at fault
Police officer indicted on bad-check charge
Police review panel approved
Pope's visit to Mexico, U.S.
Regents question free tuition for foreigners
Riverboat revenues rose 40% in '98
Stakeout of funeral defended
Student envoys eager to learn abroad