Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Well, here is the only “ghost shot I could get to post - it was horrible folks! That hideous face, raising out of the ground, and the moans it made! It reminded me of …

The most memorable Halloween I ever had is a compilation of memories from the three years I lived in Waverly, Tennessee. I lived there in the years between the seventh and ninth grades. Besides where I live now, Waverly was the longest period of time I ever lived anywhere. I left grade school and entered high school there with many friends and a comfort level for belonging that I never acquired any other time in my education history, including college.

These Waverly years were my Elvis years. In 1958, Elvis was just beginning to hit it big and sock hops, TV dances, meeting girls at the movie house on Saturdays, and parties that included playing spin the bottle with girls was the “in” thing in those days. I loved this time and whenever I think about school days or think about my Happy Days times, this period is it.

It was a time I first became aware of fast cars and can still recall the sweet sound of a black 1958 Chevy 409 going through the gears heading out of town, with its 4-barrel wide open and sucking in the cool night air. It would be years before I could duplicate that in my own “hot rod.”

It was a classic time, a time of finding yourself, of discovering where you belong, and of losing your innocence. It was a time of my first broken heart, my first rejection, and my first realization that living in a trailer was not exactly what your new girlfriend’s parents wanted in their daughter’s future. I do not know why people always think that the way a person starts out in life is the place they will remain. In truth, that is rare, more often than not such an environment pushes people to do their best in life.

But this was my life at the time, my comfort zone, and I took everything in and remember it most. I once even sneaked back into Waverly late one night while driving to Memphis. It had changed, but there was enough remaining that I could see me riding my bicycle down its Elm canopied Main Street on the way home.

I remembered sneaking down this street on a Halloween night, hopping from tree to tree until I made it up to a red light. Behind me were two fellow mischievous boys carrying water-filled balloons. We hid ourselves from the oncoming cars and waited for them to stop at the light.

Halloween nights are usually warm and that night was no exception. You could hear rock’n roll and girls giggling coming from the open passenger side window just before we released our barrage of water bombs. Then, just gasps from cold water and screams of surprise!

As we ran, we could hear soft core cursing (not the filth you hear today) and someone calling out one of our names! We lay in the grass beside Warren’s house and rolled with laughter for several minutes. But soon, we were brave enough for another car bombing.

As I drove along I saw a familiar porch with its white washed steps and thick concrete block walls and low hanging flower baskets. It was on this porch and all around the yard where a neighborhood lady created the scariest Halloween she could imagine.

I could see myself walking reluctantly up her sidewalk, past the lighted pumpkins, dummies in rocking chairs with strange noises coming from behind them. Fake spider webs draped her hedges, and hung from the eaves of the house. Little orange and red lights flickered and the “Monster Mash” was playing off in some dark corner of the porch.

Just as you made the first step up, the lady, dressed in a very authentic looking witch’s costume, greeted you, and took your hand as she helped you onto the porch. In order to be rewarded with candy, you had to perform a few rituals. “Now, stick your hand into this bucket my sweetie,” she hoarsely instructed. “Feel the eyes?”

The power of suggestion works greatest on young minds and I could actually visualize the wet gooey grapes as actual eyeballs. I would quickly jerk my hand back and await her next command. “Now feel these cat guts!” Warm noodles and spaghetti in the dark can be imagined as most anything gory!

There were other things to feel as you ran the gauntlet to the candy. However, it was the most exciting times ever for a young boy during his Halloween season.

Last, but not the least scary, was her husband who suddenly rose up from one of the rocking chairs and screamed “Boo!” as loudly as he could. After the jumping around and screaming stopped, he held out his huge bucket of candy, or pointed you toward candid apples (in the days before razor blades sliced into our innocence) and popcorn balls. The two spared no expense.

I do not know if they had children or not, but if they did they probably stayed right there the entire evening and joined in the spooky fun. If not, we were their children for a night and they seemed to love each of us. They took time to compliment our costumes and ask our names and pushed us back out into the Halloween night saying, “See ya next year, my sweets!”

Number two in my memories of Halloween was not in Waverly, but in Harriman, Tennessee where I was by then a seventeen year old in heat!

We were past the age we could legally dress up, but we still roamed the neighborhood streets as the little ones trick-or-treated their way around house to house. There must have been about a six of us teenage boys prowling around on “sort of” dates with our best girls, trying to impress them with our stupid antics.

I was with a girl that was wearing a big white fuzzy coat and her “grand Tetons” as we referred to them were teasing me and calling my hand in the dark as we walked. She wore bras that remind me of Madonna’s gold metal sharp pointed stage bras – sharp enough you could stick paper notes down over to keep them from flying away!

Well, that is another story. Do not know how that snuck in here, but memories are strange roving entities that can materialize anywhere they want.

My attempt at impressing the pretty gal came as an opportunity to pound the rear quarter panel of a slow passing car. I banged the side of the car and fell down in the middle of the road holding my leg hollering.

A man stopped and jumped out of the car and flashed his Constable badge in our direction and wanted to know if I was all right. I pretended things were find and walked off into the dark to escape the embarrassment! He finally drove off after telling everyone to stop walking in the middle of the road.

Everyone got a good laugh at me, but hey, I was a bit of a clown then (and now) and liked it when they laughed, for whatever reason.

As I have stated before, I do not personally celebrate Halloween and the reason is mainly because I think the observance has changed from a celebration of life, where families enjoy it together, to one of evil or death. Life should be celebrated not death. If you carve the pumpkin, welcome the neighborhood children accompanied by their parents, and take the time to recognize each child’s creative effort, as a family, then go ahead, have a Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


The Goddess asked me the other day how my wife got me to vacuum and other things around the house, well; I learned from my first mistakes how to appreciate my wife (see why they call me Mushy). I’m intent on keeping her!

Plus, she never says no, even with a headache!

That bit comes from a long time back when I was between marriages and when a friend and I wore polyester shirts, gold chains, and discoed our butts off! We were “wild and crazy guys” who loved “big American breast!” We consoled each other on the weekends, if we didn't have dates, playing Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, the Stones, etc., burning a little hemp, and downing mass quanitities of alchololic beverages!

He and I used to compete at writing “poems”, or rather weird song lyrics, but one night we compiled a list of 10 things a girl had to know, or have, before we would step back into matrimony.

This idea was spawned by the movie "Semi-Tough" starring Burt Reynolds back in ’77. In one scene, the main characters, Billy Clyde and Shake, discuss their rating system for women.

The ones we made up were based on the movie’s list, however I can only remember three of ours:
1. Never says no – not even in a coma.
2. Knows about Pavlov’s dog.
3. Knows all the lyrics to “Free Bird”.

The rest is lost to 28 years of partying!

My friend Steve and I haven’t seen each other in almost that long. I sure miss him – we were a roit together, but his wife made him settle down and I was out. We used to call the other one up and through the phone over in the bed if we were gettin’ lucky and we’d both just laugh our butts off no matter where we were. Good times - we are lucky to have lived through it all!

My wife passed the test, except for the “Free Bird” part (hey, I can’t remember them sober), but she did walk into the Time-Out Deli bare-footed one night and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever! I had never known a woman that down to earth and unpretentious, besides, she had “Betty Davis” eyes.

And, in my eyes, she is running up the beach with her braided and beaded hair dancing in the sunlight.

If someone can remember, or has seen the movie or read the book (Semi-Tough) lately, please post or send me the list from the movie. I searched but could not find it. It might help me remember more of “our” list!

Friday, October 27, 2006


“Hi. My name is Mushy, and I’m a “traffic whore” (sobbing).

It all started innocently enough – I registered my blog URL on blogexlosion (don’t click on the embedded link or you’re doomed) and began to play their silly little “Blog Rocket” and “Surf Member Blogs” games. Soon I had accumulated points and began to wager on “Battle of the Blogs” and doing “ScratchCards.” To my surprise I began to win and as of a few days ago I was the 14th top blog challenge winner of the month – rated 274 overall with over 1400 points! I was hooked and my hit counters were clicking away – driving me forward, telling me to “Explode your BLOG traffic.” Now, I’m purposely trying to lose all my points!

I began to lose weight (writer’s license to exaggerate here), miss my favorite TV shows (Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, and Greg’s Anatomy (more license use)), and lay awake at night plotting strategy (this is actually true)!

As of today, both my blog counters say I’m over 10,000 hits, and God I feel so cheap I can’t even celebrate! Worse of all, I’ve cheated my readership. Seeing that a site has that many hits compels readers, who would not normally give me time enough to click through, to stop, and read just to see what they may have been missing.

“Hi. My name is Mushy, and I’m a “traffic whore” (still blubbering).

Today I ordered T-shirts from Zazzle with my picture on the front and my blog address front and back – oh God help me to do better.

“Hi. My name is Mushy, and I’m a “traffic whore” (sniffling).

Today I ordered “Blogness Cards” from VistaPrint with my picture and blog address and a cute little comment under my “real” name – is there no hope.

So, now…now I’m on the wagon. I promise from this point on I’ll increase my hit count the old fashion way – one reader at a time – the slow legitimate way. I’ll visit blogs and leave comments, true heart felt comments, and maybe I’ll win a new friend or two.

I don’t feel too bad however, SiteMeter says readers average 2.34 minutes a visit and I try to keep most of my post within that anyway. So maybe you are reading – “You do love me!” (talk like Sally Field while reading this part). Another good sign is that I’ve swapped links with over 20 FRIENDS, and honestly, if no one but them ever read my blog again I’ll be happy. The best I can do now is “stay on the wagon” and keep up their interest.

I suppose 10,000 was a magical number I wanted to reach to give me some since of legitimacy to my blogging. The sad truth is I was too blind to see that my Blogrolled FRIENDS was all the legitimacy I ever needed. Thanks friends, and if I have not linked someone, please let me know.

This is what I do…pass on lessons learned - from a reformed “sixties” kind of man.

“Hi. My name is Mushy, and I’m a “traffic whore” (head held high).

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Blogging one post at a time;
Enjoying each hit at a time;
Accepting negative comments as the pathway to growth;
Taking, as Ron and the Goddess do, this blogging world as it is,
not as I would have it;
Trusting that hits will come even if I don’t surrender to the darkside;
That I may be reasonably happy in cyberspace
and supremely happy with simple blogging -Without BlogExplosion.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


One of my brothers-in-law and I did a “leaf peeper” hike at Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee today. I think today was “peak day” especially since there was a heavy frost last night. So, today may have been the last day to enjoy the great colors of fall. The summer, like life, seems to end so quickly, but it sure goes out with a bang! That is my plan as well!


Friday, October 20, 2006


We start out in this world trusting those around us – taking them for face value. Everyone was to be taken at their word with no second thoughts or doubts. However, there comes a day when you start to be leery of people and second guess their intentions – you start keeping an eye on them.

I was still small enough to have to sit on the padded board in the barber’s chair the day I began to mistrust adults, and two people regretted the incident for the rest of their lives.

The first visit to the barbershop in the 50’s was a “coming out” for a young man and it was a rite that only a man and his son should share. It was a dad’s way of welcoming you to his world and introducing you to his friends.

My dad proudly opened the door and let me walk into the smoky little red-bricked building first, and my face immediately began to glow hot from the attention as all eyes looked my way and seemed to dare me to enter alone. As soon as my dad appeared, smiles came to those faces, and greetings were exchanged, telling me that dad was known and welcomed there.

Little red vinyl padded chairs, with chrome curved arms and legs, lined one side of the room, separated by brown painted metal ashtray stands, folded newspapers, and stacks of Argosy and Field & Stream Magazines, while the other wall was grandly displayed with giant mirrored cabinets and shelves arrayed with strange electric devices, bottles of blue water soaking dirty combs clean, and big white haired brushes and cans of powder.

In front of the workstations were the stately padded and arrayed barber chairs with their chrome and porcelain pump handles and padded footrest. They were grand, magical things to me that rose and lowered at the barber’s command, or whirled from side-to-side as the customer was shown the barber’s experienced touch in the mirror.

My dad decided to go first, to let me relax and watch the show, and to see that there was nothing to getting a haircut. I watched and listened as the men all talked and laughed. It was all innocent enough and I could hardly wait my turn to climb on the big chair give it all a try. I listened to the clippers click on and off, the slap of the straight razors against leather straps, and the snip, snip of the shinny scissors, and the hydraulic sound the chairs made.

Finally, it came my turn and I stood waiting at the foot of the chair, one foot upon the footrest, until the “booster seat” was added across its arms. “Hop up son…you’re next!”

The barber gently put the traditional neck paper in place, then popped the white barber sheet clean of old hair and draped it around my body. The sheet, with my knees up under it, covered my entire body, and I was ready for the first real man haircut!

The barber clicked the electric clippers on and touched the warm face of the shears against the back of my neck. It felt good and I loved the hum and buzzing it made inside my skull – this was going to be good. The barber went round and around, and side-to-side, did some clipping with his scissors over his long black comb and finally completed his masterpiece on my little blond head. The final touch, so I thought, was the powdered brush across the back of my neck that made me blink and cough.

My dad walked behind me, out of view, whispered something to the barber, and then walked back in front. I should have known something was up, but remember, at that point I trusted all mankind!

I heard another louder buzz click on and thought nothing of it until the barber’s hand; complete with scalp massager touched the top of my head! Down from the chair I sprang and out the door I ran terrified! My dad chased me about a block before catching the barber sheet with me in it!

He carried me back into the barbershop where everyone, except for the barber, was still laughing. The barber looked sheepish and immediately began to apologize to me. “I’m sorry son, you’re dad put me up to it.”

I never again let that barber cut my hair. I went back to the shop for years, but I always used the second chair and kept a watchful eye on the barber when he moved away from the chair. No matter how much my dad pleaded I would not let barber number one touch me. Both the barber and my dad always regretted their little surprise, but never failed to tease me about it every trip back.

I lost my innocence that day, and three people learned valuable lessons for life – never let a stranger get behind your back and a kid never forgets or forgives!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Fall has come to Mushy’s backyard, as it does each year at this time – strange how that works! As my dad always wanted to do when he retired but never really got to enjoy it, I am blessed to sit in my rocking chair drawing my “rocking chair money,” as he called it, and look out upon what God hath made. I just hope, as age continues to creep into my bones and loved ones are given up, that I will continue to see the beauty of the world through life’s pain.

The beauty of this view will never change, as life will. I just pray that my appreciation for it will always remain as unchanged.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I came across this old 35mm slide tonight, had to be the 70’s, of the Beacon Drive-In on the left and the big ESSO sign on the right during a winter snow (back when it used to snow in Tennessee). A flood of memories, smells, and tastes washed over me as I looked at this one. The Beacon was the last great drive-in restaurant in of the 50s, 60’s, and 70’s era in our area and when it went most of my teenage memories went with it.

The Beacon sat just on the west side of the bridge leading out of Harriman. I watched many drag races coming across that bridge, saw them whip off behind the Beacon to avoid police observance, and quietly slip into a parking bay, punch the speaker, and order a cherry coke and a cheeseburger with fries. It was a great meeting place for kids on a date, or a place to troll for one.

Hot-rodder’s ready to leave after refueling on the Beacon’s “basket specials” had a passenger jump out, knock off the “cut out pipe” caps, and hop back in as the big blocks roared to breathy life. The loud chugging and backfiring was a call to others that the game was on again. Usually, some contender took the queue, went through the same ritual, and brought their throaty beast to life – a new heat across the bridge was on! The challengers met at the side of road, looked up and down the highway, as the Beacon’s eaters froze in place, anticipating. Engines revved and strained against brakes until the coast looked clear. Then in a V-8 bellow they charged off in a cloud of blue rubber smoke. It was wonderful and the smell of burning rubber made a chilidog taste all the better!

As the engines went through synchronized gear changes, peaked RPM, and then backed off in distant popping and a halo of red taillights, the patrons resumed smacking and licking their lips. “Who won?” someone would shout.

Sometimes you could catch a fistfight further up behind the ordering bays, and inside a semi-circle of car headlights. Later, loser and winners broke up into small groups went somewhere to drink and brag.

Inside, the pinball machines beeped, clanged, whistled, popped, flashed, and chirped their wild sounds to cigarette smoking, gum chewing, and coke swigging boys bent on doubling their allowances. Many times I put my five-dollar allowance on the counter, ordered a cheeseburger and fries, a cheery coke, a pack of Winstons, and got the rest in nickels. If I hit the pinball, we all went across the street, played snooker, bought beer, and sat out back later laughing and talking about girls.

Of course if one of us did not hit, then we were left with deciding whether to walk home, or stand on the street, hanging off parking meters, hoping some body would pick us up, and ride us around. Riding around consisted of cruising up and down Roane Street, slow chugging (pretending your car had a cam) around the Beacon, and back down the main drag again.

It was this circle of life, the summer we graduated, that got to us. “Man! We have got to get out of this place guys. We’ll die here if we go around this damn Beacon one more time.”

So off we went the next day and three of us joined the Air Force on the “buddy system.” After basic training, I have only seen those guys once in forty-two years!

Ironically, I thought I would die if I circled the Beacon for the rest of my life – not knowing that I would be going to Vietnam where dying was a very real possibility. Stupid kids!

Someone, somewhere out there in America tonight is having that same thought. They do not know when they have it made. They spend most of their time wishing their lives away.

How I wish I could circle the old Beacon one more time or taste that wonderful cherry coke and cheeseburger combination – wearing that younger man’s shoes, but feeding this older man’s face.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It would be hard for me to say which I like best, spring or fall, but this fall has been especially interesting to me, possibly because the tree colors are extremely vivid! I took this shot during my walk by the river this morning under overcast skies. While it would have been more brilliant with more sunlight, I think it captures what I mean.

It takes a combination of cool temperatures and rain to make fall especially brilliant and we have apparently had the perfect conditions this year. East Tennessee is alive and showing its stuff!

We should have this color for at least the next two weeks unless a heavy frost presents itself and spoils everything.

The other two greener shots are from the Clifty Creek area near Harriman - a beautiful place that is now private property. As teenagers we used this area to shoot, hike, camp, and occasionally we were lucky enough to park there with a pretty gal!

If you click and enlarge the one with the arching trees over the creek, you can just make out a father and son slowly drifting out on Emory River fishing. It is trips, fall foliage, and quiet times like these that build memories that last.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I don’t really celebrate Halloween or Christmas anymore, but for the blogs sake I’ll decorate it up a little bit for everyone soon.

Here is a shot I took recently in the old Harriman Cemetery while preparing for a big Halloween blog post later this month. The shot was beautiful, I thought, on its own, but a little special effects from Photo Shop Elements may have made it print worthy. What do you think?

Old cemeteries had ambiance and style, while those new hillside, all in a row, with no head stone places just seem like giant parking lots for coffins. There are no trees to cast spooky shadows, or for moss to hang from, no creaky wrought-iron fences and gates, no aging stately leaning monoliths, no distinction in the grave markers letting you know instantly if the occupant is an adult or a youth, or whether they were rich or poor. I hate political correctness!

Friday, October 13, 2006


As I mentioned previously, the “Traveling Wall” is visiting our fair city this week and weekend. As I viewed the Vietnam War Memorial today, I touched the panels where the names of Airman Fuller and Jones were imprinted. These Air Force Security Policemen died thirty days before I was to leave the country, making my final month the longest month of my life. I was “short” and afraid I would not make it home myself.

I just wanted to let them live once again, at least in our minds, and ask you to pray that the war against terrorism does not grow into another scare upon our land.

Gary Leroy Fuller - The Plains, Ohio – Married - 22 Years Old (Panel 15E Row 105)

Robert Henry Osborn Jones - Arlington, Virginia – Single - 21 Years Old (Panel 15E – Row 106)

Both died on February 27, 1967 at DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam during an early morning Katyusha rocket attack on the base. Fuller died as he sat up startled in his bunk from another explosion, about two hooches south of mine. Shrapnel caught the young man in the jugular and he almost surely died instantly. Airman Jones was wounded running for a bunker, catching shrapnel from the same rocket in his lower body. He died minutes later on a hospital ship in the China Sea.

This photo is of me next to the rocket crater that woke Gary Fuller. It was to the rear of the hooches, while the one that fatally wounded both Fuller and Jones hit forward of the hooches.

These are just two of the many young men (and women) who never got to experienced marriage, children, grandchildren, or any grand slice of life at all. The least we can do is remember them.

It seems we do not have enough time to heal from one war until there is another one - always an open wound on the land for one reason of the other. However, it is not as if we were not told – the Bible plainly says, there will always be wars and rumors of wars. And so it shall be!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Riverfront Park runs along the Emory River and perpendicular to the Harriman Bridge into Harriman, Tennessee. This is where I try to walk at least twice a week. The gravel trail runs 6/10 of a mile around the perimeter of the park and I never walk less than 3 times around, but push for 5 when time permits. It is a fun walk, with lots of flowers, slow moving water, and people either walking or quietly sitting along the way.

This and last week have been busy in the park, with the Brushy Tennessee Department of Correction crew painting the gazebo, cutting back weeds from the river bank and underneath the bridge and along the fences that run between Christmas Lumber Company property and the park. It is hard labor, but the young guys are largely unsupervised and seem to appreciate being here than behind a fence or bars.

Others have been busy putting up big white tents, retiling the bathrooms, and cutting the grass for the coming ceremonies. They are all preparing to dedicate The Roane County War Memorial on October 14th. A big brick fountain, plaque wall (now draped in purple to keep the names they hold a surprise), and flagpoles have been installed for this specific purpose, and it all looks grand.

It is a good place to be and a good place to walk and contemplate…well, wonderfully there is less clutter in my head these days, and so much of the walk is just quiet time, simple prayers of thanks, and the buzz of brain cells waiting or searching for something to process.

I love it. I have been blessed, and I know I have said it many times before, but “thank you” cannot be said enough.

UPDATE to local readers: The traveling wall, Vietnam War Memorial, will be at Riverfront through the weekend, beginning this Friday.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


We all long to feel love from those around us, but we have to adjust to understanding how each individual expresses it in order to get because some just do not know how to say it out loud. Everyone expresses it in different ways – mom always hugged me, kissed my cheek, and said “I love you” out loud, but dad only worried about me and fuzzed at me so that mom had to tell me it was because “he loves you.”

I guess I am just hard headed but I like to be told outright and not have to wonder. I have trouble reading minds, although my wife expects that to be a dominate trait of mine!

Touching is another way people express their love for others. I sometimes touch a person on the arm or back as I speak to them. They may not be able to read my mind, but it means I care; I am glad they are there with me, or that I am interested in them and their problems. If dad had touched me more, maybe I would have gotten the message – oh wait, maybe it was when he held me down and tickled me until I cried!

Anyway, one of the most endearing “touches” was from my fraternal grandfather “Pa.” Pa never failed to wake me each morning when I stayed with them during my adolescent summers. Gentle but rough farm worn hands would nudge me awake as they pressed firmly down on me from head to toe as I lay under the covers. His soft gravelly voice saying “Pack’em down, pack’em down, pack’em down” as he went up and down my body two or three times. I would begin to move around, yawn, blink my eyes open, and look up into his weathered face.

“Your Ma and Lois almost have breakfast ready…better get up. We got lots to do today.”

I loved this attention and understood it was his way of saying “I love you,” although he never actually said it out loud. I loved this old man just because he “packed me down” and for little else. It was all that mattered and all that I really remember about his nature. He will long live in my mine as a gentle, hard working man, who packed me down!

I have continued this tradition of “packin’ ‘em down” with my son and my granddaughters. If they do little else in their lives to show love to their children I hope they remember to wake them up in the mornings with a soft loving voice saying “Pack’em down, pack’em down, pack’em down.”

It takes so little to love others – why don’t we do it more often?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


On this moonless night in 1963, Highway 64 between Waynesboro and Lexington, Alabama was very dark. So dark, as I remember it that it required very determined headlights to cut little temporary tunnels through it.

With the 750 kW WSM sounds, from 650 on the dial, bathing us in a soft yellow glow from the radio, Mark and I joked, laughed, and poked at each other with schoolboy exuberance as we drove along. “How cool are we?” we thought!

Earlier that afternoon, my dad had given his reluctant permission for me to drive, with my cousin Mark, the 52 miles from Lexington to Waynesboro. This being not only my first “road trip,” but also my first real trip without supervision made me feel grown up and special. It also made me very nervous. My father trusted me with the family car and the safety of us both – I did not want to let him down.

I was a very inexperienced driver, especially at night, so with the visit with my old friend Richard in Waynesboro completed late in the evening, I anxiously piloted the “Thunder Chief” back down the dark highway. Behind the headlights the night enveloped the ’55 Pontiac Star Chief so that it was invisible just behind the lights, only revealing itself with the noise of its 287 cubic-inch V8 as it passed.

After a few miles, we both became quiet and intent on the road ahead. There was no white line defining the side of the road as there is today and the center yellow line had long since lost its brightness. I think we both knew that it was going to be a long forty-some miles home and that it would take four eyes to find our way. However, after a few miles we drifted off to inner thoughts with only short quiet sentences breaking the silence between us.

At some point my mind registered an image that was not quite right and shot me full of adrenaline to help me focus! I had just topped a small grade and started down and around a gradual curve to the left when the headlight’s tunnel, which had been shortened by the hill, beamed fully on the “dirty side” of a car lying on its side across the center line!

I think we both yelled out, but really cannot remember, but could I have the moment over, I would!

Somehow, inexperienced as I was, I whipped the wheel hard left and quickly back to the right and around the wrecked vehicle. I finally got control and slid to a halt about thirty yards beyond the car, which was now again bathed in darkness. As I said, there was no moon, probably no stars, and no lights from civilization for miles and we sat there in the yellow glow of the radio starring at each other, searching for strength and direction in the other. We dreaded the moment, but we each knew we had to get out of the security of the car and see what could be done.

The dark enveloped us as we moved away from the red glow of the taillights and in the direction of the overturned car. At first the only sound was a roaring coming from the direction of the car. Somehow we soon understood it was the front wheel still spinning from its pre-accident momentum just moments ago.

We had only taken a few hesitant steps toward the car when a woman’s frantic voice screamed from the dark, “Oh God, help us! We have already killed one!”, and then crying and sobbing. This evoked a booster shot of adrenaline that I could feel course its way up my neck to my brain! We imagined all sorts of dead and bloody bodies lying there in the dark, waiting for us to touch them before screaming again!

Horrified we froze for a moment, but then realized we had to help. We took a couple of running steps when suddenly lights from another car broke the darkness behind the overturned car. For the first time we could see the vehicle’s outline silhouetted by the oncoming headlights and could see the car was a mangled mess.

Again we froze realizing that the next driver might not be as lucky as we had been and ram the car head-on. We knew this would injure or kill more, and possibly knock the wrecked car into us, so we ran back toward our vehicle.

Tires squealed and people were screaming in the night. It was so overwhelming that we were in near shock ourselves.

The oncoming car made it around without incident and slid in behind mine. A man jumped out and hollered, “What’s going on?

All I could do was say, “They said they’ve killed someone and need help! Please go see what you can do and I’ll go get help!

I never saw the man’s face or anyone from the wrecked car, but somehow I am still haunted by faceless people screaming in the darkness.

Mark and I drove a few miles to the next farmhouse and had the owner call the highway patrol.

We looked at each other in the glow of the dashboard lights and without saying a word, drove slowly on back to Lexington. We just could not go back, whether too ashamed of how we reacted at first in the darkness by the wreck, or just because we knew we would be useless there.

Who knows, if there had been more light, no one had screamed, and the other car had not come along, we may have been some actual help that night.

However, we did grow a little that night and deep inside we knew that if it ever happened again, we would be at least a little braver. Thank God it has never happened like that again, but if it does I pray I stay just this side of total fear long enough to help.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


It was eight days on the road, the rail, and the water! And, let me say up front it was wonderful!
Day seven began with a ride on the Essex Steam Train through the Connecticut countryside. Our guide warned us about soot from the train, but we did not experience any problems, so I guess the wind was in our favor.

At Deep River Landing we boarded the Becky Thatcher for a relaxing ride up the Connecticut River, past the Gillette Castle and other beautiful homes before continuing on to Cape Cod.

We rested with a two-night stay in the Four Points Sheridan in Hyannis, Massachusetts before heading back to Boston for our flight connection home on day 9.

Our room looked out over the par-3 golf course where wild geese walked the course with the golfers. My wife and I enjoyed a couple of highballs on our private balcony before heading out for a wonderful dinner at The Paddock – a must for any visitor to the area.

Day eight began with a Hyannis Harbor Cruise and an offshore visit to the Kennedy Compound, followed by lunch at the British Beer Company and time to shop.

Later we were treated to another local train ride on the Cape Cod Central Railroad past cranberry bogs, through woodlands, marshes, and sand dunes before paralleling the Cape Cod Canal.

The trip culminated over an included lobster feast our last night in Hyannis. Go to Mushy’s Cookings to see photos of several fellow travelers enjoying their meal.

Thus ends this travelogue (and you are probably glad) of our “leaf peeper” trip to New England. I highly recommend the trip. Even though it appears to be rushed, there was plenty of time to relax and breathe. The guide arranged a system whereby we got different seats on the bus daily and she rotated which side got off the bus first at each stop.

There was no need to worry about driving and missing the scenery or the hassle of loading and unloading our luggage. The hotel unloaded all baggage at each stop, delivered it to the rooms, picked it up outside the rooms each morning, and loaded it on the bus. All we had to do was sit the baggage outside our rooms, enjoy the breakfast buffet, load ourselves onto the bus, and sit back and “leaf peep” around wide-eyed or nap!


It was eight days on the road, the rail, and the water! And, let me say up front it was wonderful!

Day five found us traveling to Vermont along the scenic roads of New Hampshire. We stopped along the way at The Brick Store in Bath to step back in time, pick up some maple syrup for the folks back home, see the covered bridge, and have an ice cream.

Then it was on to Vermont’s Green Mountain Flyer in Bellows Falls and near Chester, Vermont for another beautiful ride through the local countryside.

The day ended in the Killington, VT Holiday Inn.

Day six was travel to the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. The 34-story 1,200 room hotel was exquisite with spectacular views. The trip included two free meals and you cannot imagine the food presented in both the hotel’s huge buffet rooms, and breakfast was a feast!

Yes, my wife played a few of the 6,300 slot machines, but alas she did not come away a big winner!