Tag Archives: road stories

Road Reflections: Part Three

As we were traveling through the Southland, I had the notion that I would just make a list, as we went, of things which I was seeing, and in many cases which I heard, which I don’t see or hear much of, north of the Line. Did I just mention a “Line?” Well … there must still be, because it was clearly marked with signage, and I’ve crossed it at least twice in the last few weeks.

Please note that this is not a “better than” or “worse than” type of recording. It had been years it seemed (even though we were in the Deep South just last Summer) since I had just taken it easy on a trip, taking the time to notice-and enjoy-my surroundings. The United States and its people are beautiful. I have written “Northern Songs” and “Southern Songs” with the same degree of love and devotion. I have written State songs and regional songs, each reflecting the individual characteristics of a particular region. Each state and region has such a remarkable part to play in the vast beauty of our Country. I love the entire United States, its people, and its countryside. I’ve had the opportunity to laud its people and places on many public occasions, including the publication of the new Anthem for American, “The Eagle Still Flies.” I don’t take sides … because I love both sides …

Yes, I’ve gotten it from “both sides” regarding the fact that I lived on one “side” or other. I’ve been made fun of, or ridiculed, from both sides. Mostly good-natured ribbing, but … sometimes I have my doubts …
Well … here goes … I have had well-meaning (I hope) people look me right in the eye … almost in a defensive stance of some kind … and, in speaking of the Civil War … they would, point-blank, ask me, “Which side you on?” Don’t laugh-I’ve had it happen more than once.
Here’s my answer … the only answer which I can give, because it’s the truth:
“Neither … I wasn’t in it.”
My only additional response is usually one of two thoughts, both from the heart:
“There were great men on both sides.”
Or, I will quote Robert E. Lee, who said, “We are all equal at the foot of the cross.”

… Something tells me I’m not going to get to that list …

One of the first things I noticed when I first moved to New England, from the Deep South, is that you just didn’t hear much about the Civil War. I say this honestly, and sincerely. Keep in mind that I was born and raised in the Deep South, where it was just part of your every day surroundings. You are literally surrounded by Civil War history, and its battlefields. In fact, the first real home I remember, and we lived there for several years, was very close to Chickamauga Battlefield, and we were surrounded, every day, by the War’s history. My love for history began with learning about the Civil War. It had to, as I lived where it happened. Growing up, we were just as likely to find a mini-ball as a prized arrowhead.

There is nothing civil about war.

When you are in New England, the war that you are surrounded by, mostly, is the Revolutionary War, and therefore, much of what you see and learn about is about that war. Again, you are surrounded by that history, much like you would be surrounded by the history of whatever area you lived in.

Yes, I’m proud of my Southern heritage, for many reasons, including because of my family, and the way we were raised. It is “just different” being in the South, just like it is different being in the North, or the West, or the West Coast, or the Pacific Northwest, or … well, you get the idea.

And, yes, I got yelled at … in Virginia … in the Shenandoah Valley, at a concert, when the lead singer answered my cry for a particular song … He yelled, “No! No Free Bird!!!” But, the band did break into another Lynyrd Skynyrd classic …

Please allow me to say this: Every place that I have ever lived, every place that I have ever visited, regardless of how close or far, everywhere I’ve been, it was a “different world” there.
Think about this: Everywhere I’ve ever worked, regardless of what state or city or region, that place was its own, different world. I’ve worked at fast food places and large retail chains. Plus, it seems that everyone that I’ve ever talked with about their job, they all say pretty much the same thing:
“It’s its own world.”

Something else: Every place, every town, every city, every “where ever” that I’ve ever lived in, I have heard the same, exact thing: “If you’re not born and raised here …”
I hate to break the news, but, individually, we really don’t have any control over where we are born. And, if I’m not mistaken, individually, we also don’t have any control over who our parents are …
Yet, I still see it all the time, and so have most of you. There was a lady who ran for a public office for a city which we had moved to. Now, I love this lady, and she was really the first person we met when we visited that particular town, when we were just “looking around.” We all hit it off immediately, and I report this only for the example, as I still highly respect her: In the ads she ran to get people to vote for her, this was her platform, and the only statement she made to inform the voting populace of her qualifications for high office, and I quote it as closely to exact as I can. Here was her advertised qualifications:
“Born and raised in ________.”

That was it. In her mind, she felt she had to say what would get her the most votes. That’s what a political ad is for, right? I don’t know if it says more about her, or the mind of the voters. Anyway, I use that as an example.
I was even watching the movie “Jaws” recently. And, the sheriff’s wife was having a discussion on the beach, with one of the business ladies from town. Remember that Amityville was an island. The discussion was directed to Ellen Brody to explain that, if you weren’t born and raised on the Island … “Ellen … you’re just not an Islander.”

I am even tempted, to mumble this on occasion, when accosted “up here” by the fact that I wasn’t born or raised here. I fire back something about the Pilgrims … that it was amazing … they weren’t born here either … yet they chose to come here … to this country … for freedom …to live how … and, where … they wished … without persecution …

For some reason, I have always felt that it was more of an honor bestowed upon a town, if a person and family decided to move there. That it would place more emphasis on the fact that they were there by choice … rather than being “bound there” for the rest of their lives ….

Guess I’m not going to get to that list … for now …

Blessings,
R.V.R.

 

Advertisements

Road Reflections: “What a Country!”-Part 1

I’d have to say that I love to travel, especially when it’s not work related. I love seeing new things, new surroundings, new people (or peoples), and, as a student of history, all of the history which travel exposes one to.

I’m writing this while still on the road (7 different states tomorrow), and I have had some time to take my own advice, and “take time.” I have conducted a little “book business,” and the online store is always potentially “24/7,” but this idea of taking a vacation, just “getting away” is such a great idea. I often think of Jesus, who would, on occasion, get away from the crowds, especially to the mountains, which has always been my favorite place to go. He would spend much of His time, isolated from distraction, in prayer. And, He would often take His disciples with Him, to teach them in private, away from the crowds and distractions. I must confess that, while I have read and studied the Bible quite a bit during our travels, I haven’t prayed nearly as much as I should. I know … some of you may be thinking the same thought which comes to me now … there is no recorded incident of Jesus ever taking a vacation. I agree with this … I also agree that “retirement” is not a Scriptural concept, either … but, that may be a subject for another time …

Anyway … whenever I have the chance to travel, especially to distant places, I always am reminded of how incredibly blessed we are to live in this country, the United States of America. I often write about this … that so many of us here, just have no idea how different the conditions are in other countries. Not just religious freedom, either. Just the conveniences we enjoy, and take for granted, every day. That too, is a topic for another time, though I will continually go back to it.

The economic freedom and opportunity we have is unsurpassed. I’m not much for complaining about gas prices here in the US, as I know that many people across the world have been paying over 5.00 a gallon for it … for years. By the way, we paid 3.19 a gallon in parts of Virginia. We paid 3.67 to fill up in New Hampshire before we left.

Postage stamps? I never complain about the price of a postage stamp, either. I must admit that I did have to look up how much a postage stamp was, while writing this. Not necessarily ignorance, but I always buy a book of stamps at one time, and just haven’t done the math. I also always buy the “forever” stamps. I don’t even know if they put the price of postage on the stamps anymore (perhaps out of embarrassment).
The reason that I don’t complain about the price is that it may take 49¢ to get a letter across the United States, or even 2.07 to ship a pair of Christian sunglasses across the country … but in both cases … it would be hard for me to take it there myself for less … So, I never complain about the cost. I just feel blessed that we can mail just about anything, to anyone, and have a pretty good assurance that it will arrive. And, the ability to track the package or letter is just an added bonus that I feel like is just another economic blessing that we take for granted.

I like to be grateful for everything, “in all things give thanks.”

In the paragraph above, I wrote the price of a postage stamp as “49¢.” In so doing, I had to type the “cent” symbol. After looking, and looking, and looking for the symbol on my keyboard, I asked Carol where the “cent” symbol was. She looked at where she thought it was, then stated she had no idea where it was.
Next step: Here’s what I typed into the Google search: “When did they take the “cent” symbol off of a keyboard?” Well they did, and it appears it was for “coding” reasons, years ago.
Guess what my next search was? “How do you make a “cent” symbol on your keyboard?”
It turns out that it can be done, using the “Alt” key and your keyboard number pad, using a code … Sounds like another story for another time … By the way, for our dear friends in England, I saw where the same question was asked regarding “pence.”

The “cent on the keyboard” issue reminds me of how excited I was a couple of years ago, when we finally got basic cable on our TV at home. It just happened to be included in the telephone/high speed internet package we had gotten. We now had access to PBS … plus, since we were getting the local channels, we could even watch Monday Night Football, as one of the New Hampshire stations was an ABC affiliate. I shared this excitement with my brother, as he, too, is a football fan. To this, he exclaimed, “Where have you been? ABC hasn’t carried Monday Night Football in years! Hey … did you hear that they landed a man on the moon?” I get that last part a lot.

It also reminds me of the time when we went to look at cars, during a local dealer promotion. One of those where they send you a key, which promises to start (I still say “crank”) a brand new car. Because everyone who attended received a prize, we stopped by. Of course, you can’t leave without being “grilled” by a salesman (get it-grilled?). I told him that the one vehicle I really wanted was a jeep … not a fancy, cost-more-than-a-house jeep … I told him I just wanted an old army jeep with a top … that would make me happy. He told me, “Man … “get with the 21st century!”

I just noticed that I never just “sit down and eat,” except in a restaurant. Whether at work, at home, or traveling/vacation, I never just sit down and eat a meal. I will either be at my computer, or I’ll watch a movie or program on television. Deep down, I think it’s some kind of guilt I’m carrying about not working. Maybe I do need a vacation …

Well … here I go again … I started to write about some of the things we had done and seen during our travels … but, this all just came out. Maybe I should re-title this something like “Road Rants” instead.

Blessings,
R.V.R.