Letters to Zerky: A Father's Legacy to a Lost
Son and a Road Trip Around the World
by Bill Raney and Joanne Walker Raney Nicelodeon Press

"If you said in those days that you went to Afghanistan, well, most people didn't know what Afghanistan was. When they thought of travelling, they thought of going to Hawaii or something."

"Zerky" refers to the author's son, Eric Xerxes, who travelled with Raney and his previous wife through Europe and Asia in the Summer of Love, 1967 and 1968, as beatniks enjoying the scenery and soaking up history. Raney and his wife, Joanne, drove through Europe and decided that their son, Xerxes, was too young to remember all that he was going through and took pen to paper to allow him to appreciate their journey down the road.

The Raneys had an interesting life together and they share their trip in a bright and humorous way. Bill and JoAnne leave their movie theatre business and fly to Germany where they immediately get into trouble. The local police want to deport their friendly dachshund, Tarzan, as he does not have papers, but a delightful stewardess comes to the rescue and talks the airport establishment into allowing him to stay. Soon enough the police are saying, "Ja, Ja! We must get them to a beer hall."

And so it goes throughout Europe from Germany to Spain, Turkey to China finding trouble and getting out of it with aplomb and humor. Told from a hippie's point of view, Raney condenses history and tells the tale with a funny and light-hearted viewpoint and a moving touch for language and humanity.

Tragically, Joanna died with the Raneys' unborn child a year later. Zerky, sadly, was run over riding his bike. Tarzan disappeared, too, but, the theater the Raneys built in Santa Cruz became an institution for over forty years. 

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