Saturday, March 28, 2015

Terror On Alt 95

Terror On Alt 95

At the crossroads of Silver Spring, I pulled into a gas station to get my daughter, Shannon, a soda.  She had been demanding a coke for over fifteen minutes.  She was only three years old, but knew what she wanted. The afternoon was warm and we had no air conditioning in our car back in the early 70’s.  I was thirsty too.  We were going to visit my mother in Yerington about thirty-three miles away. Silver Springs was a true crossroad. East was Fallon, West led to Carson City, North was Fernley from which we had just passed through from Reno where we lived, and South lead to our destination, Yerington and then to Las Vegas. For thirty miles, give or take, in any direction from Silver Springs was mainly desert with no services.  To this respect Silver Springs was a little oasis for travelers.

I was in no hurry this day.  I took Shannon to the restroom and got her a Coke and her favorite “potato chips with windows” - pretzels.  She was delighted.  In those days we did not have car seats for children or seat belts. I stood her in the passenger seat - her favorite way to ride, so she could see everything.  I had to wait for two other cars to pass before I pulled from the gas station.

I was reminded of a time a few years back, when at this very crossroads, I picked up a skinny bare-chested, bare-footed hippie in work overalls, who had only a large family-size Bible clutched to his chest. “Where are you headed?” I yelled at him through the open passenger window.  “Las Vegas.” he replied. “Well come on, I can take you as far as Yerington.” I motioned to him.  We visited and talked about the Lord and when we arrived in Yerington, I offered to buy him something to eat, but he refused as he was anxious to get to Las Vegas. I figured he was fasting and on a mission from God. I dropped him on the corner of Main & Goldfield.  I always wondered how he made out.

Even though Silver Springs had very few buildings and businesses, it had a 25 mile per hour speed limit that went for miles.  It alway irritated the hell out of me.  Nevadans were use to driving fast as there were no speed limits outside of city limits. “Why does Silver Springs have such a large city limit?” I would cursedly question every time I went through it.  Most the time the further from the crossroads, the faster I would go.  However, this afternoon I was behind a California tourist in a black Buick, who was following the speed limit exactly.  Every time I tried to pass, oncoming traffic prevented me.

I impatiently tapped my fingers on the steering wheel, whistled in the air and cursed under my breath, “son of a bitch!”.  I was looking ahead for the speed limit to change, so I could pass this “jerk”.  The road from here to Yerington was only a two-lane highway, one lane for each direction.  Everyone in Nevada knew the rules and politeness of driving these kind of roads. Don’t keep your brights on at night for oncoming traffic, always keep a watch out for deer and cattle in the open range, slow down when someone tries to pass in both directions, leave plenty of space to pass and don’t pass on a double line. Additionally, be careful not to hit the soft shoulders as you could get into a car roll with nothing to stop you.  People have been known to roll up to twenty times over the flat sagebrush-covered desert before coming to a stop.

Finally, we reached the end of the speed limit and began to accelerate.  Still there were a few oncoming cars.  When they passed I looked ahead and saw a large oncoming semi-truck very far ahead.  I had plenty of room and time to pass. I put on my blinker and increased my speed to overtake the Buick.  To my surprise, the Buick accelerated to match my speed.  I accelerate more and so did he.  I stepped on it to 90 miles per hour.  He matched me.  “What the hell is he trying to do?”  I yelled into the air.  “Kill us?”  I was eyeing the semi getting closer and so decided to back off and pull back in behind him.  As I slowed, so did he.  “He is trying to kill us!” I exclaimed.

I looked at the driver in the Buick.  He was a 30ish man with black hair and an evil smirk. His girlfriend was beside him and she was laughing.  This was great fun for them. I looked across at the man and hand signaled him to let me in.  His eyebrows lifted into a murderous arch. Now I was getting really scared.  My mind was racing.  What to do? In split-second thinking, I viewed my three options.  I could have a head-on with the truck, I could turn into the Buick on the right, or I could veer to the left and try and hold the car upright across the desert. All options were disastrous.

As the truck drew nearer, I knew I must make a move.  I yelled, “You may kill us, but this is what I think of you!” and violently flipped him the bird.  At this point, he slammed on his brakes to let me in.  I slide to the right in front of him just seconds before an inedible head-on collision could have occurred.  I was still shaking when we reached my mothers house.  It began to sink in how close we had come to dying that day.  The personification of evil for delight has puzzled me since that event.  I cannot conceive it.  I did learn one thing. When all our options are explored, there may still be one more option - a miracle.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rumble At Anaconda Lockout

Rumble At Anaconda Lockout

The 1965 Saturday night dances in Yerington,  Nevada became my responsibility quite by accident.  

My best friend, Sue, was a dynamic personality and had a powerful voice. She and four other high school classmates formed a band called the Sabras , but they had no place to practice. Our living room just happened to be very large, and so it became the band practice spot and hangout. My mother worked late, so at first I neglected to even tell her of my afternoon activities, but when she did find out, to my surprise she was supportive.  

As the band improved they started talking about performing. They decided they needed a band manager to help get them some gigs.  Sue at this point volunteered me. I was fifteen years old. I did not have a clue about finding the band engagements, but I was working on the school newspaper that year and so promoted them with little news articles.

It finally occurred to me, to rent the VFW hall and have a town dance.
Because Yerington was a small town where everyone knew everyone and because my mother was the hospital administrator and because I had a reputation of being “a very responsible young lady”, I was able to rent halls, enlist chaperons and get the police to give us their help and blessing.

For two years, the Sabras and another band, the Quids, whom I had started managing,
performed twice a month at town dances, proms, and parties. The Sabras performed at the battle of the bands in Reno, coming in third place and performed on KOLO TV.  Sue “Hot Lips” Hatton had such a powerful voice that when one night at a dance while she was singing “The House Of the Rising Sun” the microphone went out. She kept belting out her song and was still heard over the drums, electric guitars and the shuffling feet of about 75 dancing couples. At a KOLO recording session, when she started singing the sound technicians grabbed their headsets and threw them on the desk. They came running on the set to adjust the mikes and instruct Sue on how to hold the mike far away from her mouth to keep from destroying their eardrums.

As I approached my senior year, I had gotten quite good at arranging town dances and promoting them with fliers and newspaper articles both in the school paper and the local paper, who’s logo was “the only paper that gives a damn about Yerington”. As summer was wearing down, I rented the Eagle’s Roost for a back-to-school dance.  I did my usual promotion and was expecting a good turnout. The turnout was even better than I hoped for.  

About half way through the dance four surprise visitors come in. They were black soldiers from the naval base in Hawthorne located about 60 miles away.  We were at the height of the Vietnam War and there was a large ammunition depot in Hawthorne.  They had read about the dance in the paper and driven all that distance for a little recreation. Now Yerington at that time had only one black person in the town, a lab technician, who my mother had hired. No one in town would rent to her, so the county rented her the apartment above us. She may have been the only black person who had ever lived in Yerington up to that point.  

Needless to say, the farm and miner boys did not take kindly to these black boys asking their dates to dance. Many of the girls did dance with them. They were very good dancers. After about an hour of “tolerance”, the white boys could take it no longer and challenged then to a fight.

The dance came to a halt as everyone grabbed their coats and purses and headed for a well known local spot, the Anaconda Copper Pit Lookout, an open pit copper mine viewpoint, for the fight.  As cars and trucks sped out of the parking lot, I left the chaperons to close up the dance  as I caught a ride to the pit.  I was scared what might happen and felt responsible if someone got hurt since it was my dance.

By the time I arrived at the lookout, there were about forty vehicles parked helter-skelter.  The four black soldiers had their back to the pit with a 200-foot drop. Their trunk was open and they pulled out some chains and a crowbar. One had a small pocketknife and another had a church key with the pointed end out. Slowly approaching them were about twenty-five white boys with their fists up in Cassius Clay style. Some of the football team took their tackling positions.  This was going to be a war of two types of fighting styles: clean vs. street, rednecks vs. rumblers.

My heart was sinking as I realized someone was surely going to get hurt. I was trying to reason with them to stop but to no avail.  As name-calling prevailed the spectators rooted, yelled for action, some girls cried.  

Suddenly a pickup truck roared up the gravel road and came to a screeching dust encasing stop. A sixteen-year-old farmer’s son jumped out and retrieved his 22 rifle from the rear window gun rack and headed to the line of skirmish. “Oh my God, he is going to shoot those black guys!” I panicked.

Before I could take another breath, he discharged his gun in the air and was shouting for everyone to leave before the police came. He really didn’t have to tell them, because at the sound of the gun’s boom, there was a mass exodus to the cars. The jackrabbits could not have out run them as they scurried down the lookout road in a cloud of dust that made the atomic bomb look tame. Thus ended the one and only rumble in Mason Valley to my knowledge.

The black soldiers were never again seen in Yerington. Sue moved to California shortly after the rumble, as did one of the other band members, one joined the Navy and headed for Vietnam, and thus ended my band management career. I was now 17 years old and preparing for college.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Yellow Box

The Yellow Box

Brothers -- I had two.  They were as different as salt and pepper. No they were not black and white, but in flavor they were distinctively unique.  The room they shared illustrates their differences. One side was very neat.  The bed was made neatly.  All the clothes were picked up and hung in the closet or folded perfectly in his dresser drawers.  This side belonged to my brother Dan. Dan was eighteen months younger than me and eighteen months older than our youngest brother.  He was a perfectionist from birth and would go bonkers when things were out of place.  That is why sharing a room with his younger brother was pure torture for him.  On the other side of the room was an unmade bed, covers tossed on the floor.  Dirty clothes lay everywhere. Books and a half filled glass of kool-aid and partially eaten ketchup sandwich covered the bed stand.  This side was my brother David’s.

At one end of their bedroom was a large four drawer dresser.  The top two drawers were Dan’s and the bottom two belonged to David.  A peek inside their drawers revealed the same differences.  Everything in Dan’s was perfectly folded and categorized.  David’s on the other hand were partially bare, because most of his clothes were on the floor or under his bed, unless I had just finished washing and had replenished them.

Their personalities and temperament were also at opposite poles. Both were middle children.  Middle children either learn to negotiate well or become the “lost child” who can never find their place.  Dan had learned to be a great negotiator.  He was industrious and at times a clown depending on the need.  He was popular and was very in tune to the latest fads.  Overall he was pleasant to be around unless you pissed him off.  He had quite a temper.  A temper that would not leave, until pay back had been accomplished.  He was patient in his revenge.  He could wait weeks to
get you back.  He’d wait so long that you would have to ask him “Why did you do that?” and he with great satisfaction would reply, “You remember when,,,?”

David, on the other hand, was a tease, but he didn't know how to stop, so would irritate people.  He was also passive aggressive.  As the “lost child” his response to anger was to shrug you off, ignore you and go about his merry way.  He hated to be “nagged” and the more you did, the more he would continue what ever behavior you were addressing. Of course he did this while smiling and displaying his cute dimples.

With these two personalities in mind I shall continue my story.

When Dan was in high school he was still small for his age.  He eventually grew to over six feet, but at the time of my story he was short and skinny.  This really bothered him, because all the popular kids were on the football team, which he tried out for, but was too small in size and weight.  He was not, however, small in spirit.  He had read the Atlas Body Building ads that were run in all the comic books of our time.  He sent off for this course and someone gave him a set of weights.  He was determined.  True to his nature, he kept these weights neatly in a homemade yellow box that he kept by the side of the dresser.  Dan was somewhat possessive about his stuff and threatened to kill anyone who went in that box or touched his weights.

One evening as I was preparing to cook dinner, Dan came stomping furiously into the kitchen fists clenched and red-faced yelling, “He put a snake in my yellow box.  You had better make him get it out of there, or I am going to kill him”.  “What!” I exclaimed.  “Show me.” I did not want to believe this.  We snuck upon the yellow box in terror.  Dan slowly lifted the lid a crack.  I was expecting a large rattlesnake to strike us, but instead I quickly glanced at a garden snake before Dan shut the lid to prevent its escape.  Now I was mad.  I hated snakes.  “Damn that David!” I exclaimed.  

David had not yet come home from his after school activities.  I returned to the kitchen.  As I pulled out the flour to bread the pork chops I was going to cook for dinner, I was trying to figure out how best to handle this situation.  I knew Dan was going to seriously hurt David, if he didn't get that snake out fast.  Yet, I knew if I asked David more than once, he would consider it nagging and wouldn’t do anything.  About this time David comes bouncing into the kitchen with his dimpled little smile.  As calmly as I could, I said. “David, Dan says if you don’t get that snake out of his yellow box he is going to kill you!”  David’s comeback was, “I can’t. I don’t have anyplace to keep it.”  My response was “Well, you’ll have to let it go then.  You can’t keep it in the house.”  David did his little shrug thing.  A sign that he was going to blow me off.  Now I was pissed off and started yelling, “If you don’t get that snake out of this house NOW, I am going to kill you.”  He looked at me surprised that I had turned into Dan and he was outnumbered and replied simply, ”Fine”.

With that he turned and headed to his room.  I set the cast iron skillet on a hot burner to meld the grease for the pork chops. As I was continued flouring the chops, I saw David with the snake around his arm walking down the hall to the front door.  His jaw was set in anger.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

A few minutes passed and as I lifted the first chop to drop in the frying pan, David startled me.  He was standing directly behind me and when I looked back to see him, he dropped his dead garden snake into my skillet.  I screamed and he laughed hysterically.  With a twinkle in his eye, he said. “If I can’t keep it, I’ll just eat it.”  I was beside myself.  I knew he was punishing me for siding with Dan.  He knew I would feel badly about the poor snake sizzling in my frying pan.  He had won!  No, I couldn’t let him win.  I screamed at him, “You are going to eat it!.  You won’t get any dinner until you do.”  As usual, he just shrugged, “I will!”.
and stormed out of the kitchen.

I fried his snake until it was a nice golden brown and put it on a plate while I cleaned out the pan and finished the pork chops.  When dinner was complete I called everyone to the table.  I served up the plates and set them before my brother Dan and my sister, Lexie.  Our mother was seldom home at dinner time as she worked.  To David, I served his snake.  Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, including David.  “You said you would eat that snake, now eat it” I snarled at him as Lexie gagged and Dan’s eyes bugged out.  In defiance, David cut a piece off the snake and took a bite.  He then got up and carried the fried snake outside to the garbage.  Before he returned from the garbage, I place his pork chop dinner at his place.  The dinner conversation was about how a snake tasted.  By the time dinner ended all tempers had ceased.

Yes, brothers --  I had two!

Lexie (age 3), David (age 5), Danny (age 7) & Chere (age 8)
Picture taken in 1956, Yerington, Nevada
Story occurred in 1964

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Baseball and Mosquitoes

Baseball and Mosquitoes

It was one of those hot dry-your-eyeballs-out kind of days and I was board.  My nine year old mind decided to go visit my friend Rebecca, who lived across town, which in reality was only about four blocks away, but to me seemed quite a distant.  Rebecca was a few years older than me.  She was a sandy-haired Alabama girl with a Southern accent, which made her a weird bird to us Nevada kids.  She was constantly putting on chap stick, because the dry Nevada air caused her lips to chap and split. We became acquainted through our mothers.  My mother was the hospital administrator who had hired her mother as a nurse.  Because of this, my mother made it my job to befriend her (or else).  My mother seemed oblivious to the fact that an eleven year old was not particularly interested in being friends with a stupid nine year old.  Rebecca seemed aloft and arrogant to me (although at the time I did not know the meaning of either of those words).  All I knew it wasn't easy to be Rebecca’s friend.  Everything had to be her way based on seniority.

When I got to Rebecca’s apartment, for once she seemed glad to see me.  “You want to go with me to watch the Ladies Softball team play?”  I knew better than to say anything but “Sure”, so off we went.  We walked the four blocks from her house to the baseball field talking about baseball.  When we got to the field the two teams were just getting ready to start their game.  The white ladies were playing against the Paiute ladies.  Suddenly, Rebecca piped up with, “Hey, can we play?”  The captain of the white ladies smiled and said, “OK, you can cover third base and your friend can go to right field.”

I was so excited.  I ran out to right field. Enthusiastically, I spread my legs and crouched down, rocking back and forth in anticipation of catching a fly ball.  Several innings passed, but all hits seemed to go to center field or left field.  Now the field was all dirt and as you got to the outfield it turned into small weeds and then into small sagebrush. As the game progressed the heat and dust became uncomfortable.  The worst was that the mosquitoes were eating me alive.  I was dressed in shorts and a sleeveless blouse so they had plenty of landing space.

As the game progressed, I became bored with the game, since I wasn't

getting any action, but very interested in slapping mosquitoes. I’m not talking about a few mosquitoes, no, I’m talking about hundreds of mosquitoes.  I was slapping and jumping in place and praying for the game to end.  I was so busy slapping mosquitoes, I didn't see the fly ball coming until it passed over my head.  Those Paiute ladies were powerful sluggers.  Everyone was yelling at me as I ran as fast as I could through the weeds and sagebrush to retrieve the ball.

By the time I caught up with the ball, the hitter had already reached home plate.  I was embarrassed I had missed the ball and so angry at the mosquitoes that I closed my eyes and threw the ball as hard as I could towards the pitcher’s mound. When I opened my eyes, the pitcher was knocked out cold, laying on the ground.  Apparently she had gotten tired of waiting for me to retrieve the ball, and had turned around towards the catcher.  My throw was right on spot and hit her dead center on top of her head.

Everyone was yelling at me and for help.  I was horrified.  I was convinced I had killed her.  At that point I walked off the field thinking “I’d better go tell  Mom I killed the pitcher.”  As I walked I kept listening for the ambulance, but I didn't hear one.  I didn't want the ambulance to reach the hospital, where my mother worked, before I did, because I wanted to tell her first.  I kept looking for the police to arrest me and ran as fast as I could.  

To my surprise there was no ambulance, no police and my mom was quite understand.  Apparently the pitcher was revived and the game was finished minus me and my damn mosquitoes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In remembrance of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I am re-posting my original story from my November 2009 blog.

The Day JFK Died

November 22, 1963, Yerington, Nevada

     As a sophomore in high school I sat looking at the clock in my English class, when the principle’s voice came over the loud speaker. “We regret to inform you that President Kennedy has been assassinated. School is dismissed. Go home and be with your family.”My mouth dropped; I could not take my eyes off the speaker box that hung over the door. I numbly heard the gasps and cries of my classmates, but I sat stunned. My mind could not grasp it. Only the voice of Mrs. Crawford, my English teacher, roused me out of my stupor. “Chere, go home. Your brothers and sister will need you right now.”

     “Oh, my God,” I thought, “She’s right! My brothers and sister were being sent home to an empty house. They might be scared and upset.” My mother would be at work. She was a hospital administrator and did not get home until around 8 pm. I immediately shot out of the classroom looking for my siblings. I picked my sister, Lexie, up from school and headed home. My brothers had beaten me home. All of us were in shock. My mom called to reassure us and to make sure we were OK.

We immediately turned the TV on to find out what really happened. In our town, we only had three TV stations. Still I found myself channel surfing, hungry for the latest news. I sat glued to the set as Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather gave minute-by-minute updates. Things were happening so fast. Within hours the president had been shot and died. The gunman had been arrested. And then to our horror, the assassin himself was assassinated in front of our eyes on TV. Vice President Johnson was sworn in as President in the President’s plane. President Johnson, Jackie Kennedy and JFK’s body were back in Washington DC within hours and funeral arrangements were underway. This rapidness of the events kept me in constant shock and amazement. This was a speedy reality show, which this small town, slow moving girl had never experienced.

     As the afternoon and evening faded into night, I cooked dinner and put my siblings to bed, while listening to the TV. I did not want to miss a minute. Mom did not get home until 10 pm that night because the hospital was so busy. When she got home we sat watching the news together until the TV tuned out with the Star Spangle Banner. All TV stations in those days stopped broadcasting at 12 midnight.

My Plan To Attend JFK’s Funeral
     Unbeknown to my mother, I had made a determined plan to attend JFK’s funeral. I can’t tell you when the plan began to form, but as I watched the day’s events; I began to have a very strong desire to see what was happening first hand. I had ambitions of being a newspaper reporter someday. Early in the year I had watched the civil rights movements activities and the Freedom Riders woes. I had the same desire then. I wanted to be there; I wanted to make a difference; I wanted to know first hand.

     I figured I could get there by jumping a freight train out of Wabuska. I thought I could get to Washington, DC, go to the funeral, and be back home within a week. I would leave a note for Mom, explaining my plans so she would not worry. As I sat watching TV with my mother, I had already packed a small suitcase with a few days clothes, some apples, a few sandwiches and about $3 in tip money from my after school job as a waitress at John’s Cafe. The note was already written. I was waiting patiently for TV to go off and Mom to go to bed, so I could sneak out my window and start my exciting journey to the Capitol.

     Everything went exactly as planned. Within 30 minutes of lights out, I was up and dressed. I carefully laid out my note so Mom could easily find it. I quietly opened my window so as not to wake my sister, who shared the room with me, and gently lowered my suitcase to the partly snow covered ground. With racing heart in anticipation of the adventure and fear of getting caught, I crawled out the window one foot at a time. Once, my last foot touched the ground, I knew I was at the point of no return. I could not go back now.

On My Way To Washington D.C.
     The crisp November air nipped the tips of my ears and tingled my face. In all my planning, I forgot about the weather.I had no gloves, no hat and only tennis shoes on. I did have a coat and at first, I was not uncomfortably cold. I quietly tipped away form the house and started my walk to Wabuska.Now in our town, there was a curfew law that said children under 18 had to be in by 10 pm.Being a small town, it did not take long for our one cop car to make its rounds about town. I walked down back streets, constantly watching for the police and any other car that might recognize me. Fortunately, very few cars are out at 1 am. If I saw one, I just ducked down behind a parked car.

     As I approached the outskirts of Yeringtoncity limits, I saw the police car coming up Goldfield
Avenue. I was near the bridge over the Walker River, which ran through our town, so I slid down its bank and lay flat, hoping the officer could not see me. As I lay on the bank, the muddy, icy bank caused my body to slide several feet. My right foot entered the rivers freezing cold waters. As the officer passed, I scrambled off the bank with one wet foot and one dry foot. I was hoping as I walked the wet tennis shoe would dry. To my discomfort, instead of drying, it began to freeze.

     Once outside the city limits, the landscape is a combination of desert and dirt farms. There were no streetlights on the highway. The moon occasionally would shine through a break in the overcast clouds. In the desert sound travels a long distance. A mile outside of town, I began to hear the blood curdling howls of the coyotes or wolves (I was not sure). I kept saying to myself, “I sure hope those are a long ways away.” For the next mile, I started making plans on how to defend myself from the wolves, if they attacked me. An owl in a large cottonwood tree let out a “woo,” which caused me to jump into the middle of the highway. My heart froze in my throat; the owl repeated his wooing as if laughing at me.

     I had no time to feel too humiliated, as I saw the headlights of a car approaching some distance down the road. Suitcase flapping in the air, I raced to the highway bank and laid down flat to avoid being spotted.

     Wabuska is twelve miles from Yerington. I figured I had walked about 4 or 5 miles by now. My goal was to be at the railroad station by 5 or 6 o’clock to catch a train. By now my foot was so cold, I could hardly move it. I walked for several more miles hoping it would get better. As I passed farm after farm, the coyotes howling seemed to let up. I relaxed, as the likelihood of my being the coyote’s supper seemed to diminish. I walked close to the fence lines so any passing cars could not see me. In my relaxed state, I became more aware of the intense cold and pain in my foot. It was getting almost unbearable. As I walked past a large cotton wood 
tree, I came face-to-face, nose-to-nose, and eye-to-eye with a large horse that had his face hanging over the fence. The horse reared up and I jumped back. I am not sure which of us was nearest cardiac arrest.
     Within moments of my horse encounter, I determined that I would not make it to Wabuska with my frozen foot. I decided that if a car came by, I would try to hitchhike the rest of the way to the train station. As I could barely walk, I stood on the side of the road hoping and looking for a car going my way. For close to an hour no car passed going in either direction. Fear of death began to creep in. I could not go forward, and I could not go backwards. I pictured myself freezing to death on the side of the road and the coyotes eating my carcass.

My Only Hope of Survival-God
     It was at this point; I decided there was only one hope for me-God. I ditched my suitcase on the side of the road, walked to the middle of the highway, and knelt down on the freezing asphalt and began to pray. I knew the ‘Our Fathers’ and ‘Hail Marys’ I learned in Catholic catechism, but for some reason I just knew that would not do. As the asphalt dug into my boney and frozen knees, I begged God to spare my life and send me a ride. While still on my knees, I saw headlights coming a great distance away.

     Before I could even thank the Lord, I jumped to my feet and remained standing in the middle road. I was determined that that vehicle was going to stop or kill me. As the headlights got closer, I saw it was a tractor-trailer truck with a load of alfalfa. I held my ground. The truck began to slow and eventually stopped about six feet from me. I ran to the passenger door and jumped in.“What the blazes are you doing out here,” the truck driver exclaimed. “I’m trying to get to Wabuska, can you take me there?” I asked.“Are you running away?” the truck driver asked, his voice softened. “No, I have friends in Wabuska.” I said. I don’t think he believed me, but he drove me the rest of the way into Wabuska and dropped me at the train station.

     It was now 5 o’clock in the morning. It had taken me over four hours to make it half way there, and 10 minutes to get me the rest of the way. As the truck headed out towards Silver Springs, I sat on the wooden walkway at the train station waiting for my train to JFK’s funeral. Every thing within me still wanted to go to the funeral, but the agonizing pain and cold, began to speak reason into me.

My Journey Home
     Now Wabuska at that time has a population of about 12 people. Despite it’s small population, it still had a sheriff, who was not very well liked, because his main duty was to give tickets to people who sped through the towns 25 mile-an-hour speed limit over the railroad tracks. My mom had received several speeding tickets at his hand. I attended high school with his daughter, but I was always afraid of her father. It just so happened that Sheriff Bails’ house was the only house within walking distance of the train station. I had a choice of freezing to death or reaching his house for help. As I approached his house, my fear doubled. I was not only afraid of what the sheriff would do, but I was also afraid of what my mom would do.

     Knocking gently on the door, his dogs raised the roof, lights flew on, and I heard footsteps approach the door. Sheriff Bails flung open the door in his bathrobe and said, “Yes, how can I help you?” “Can you call my mom and ask her to come pick me up?” I shivered. He let me in and asked, “What are you doing out here this time of the morning?” Fumbling for an answer that I hoped would make sense to him and my mom, I blurted out, “Oh, I just felt like going for a walk.”

     As he reached for the phone, I thought I detected an amused smile on his face. “Mrs. Barnett, your daughter is out in Wabuska and wants you to come and pick her up. (Pause) She says she was just taking a walk. (Pause) OK. Goodbye.” Hanging up the phone, he slowly walked to the kitchen stove and put on some boiling water. “You look quite cold, would you like some hot chocolate while you wait for your mother to come pick you up?” All I could do was give him a grateful nod.
As I began to defrost in his home, my foot began to hurt even more. I could not move it at all. It was like the tendon in my heel was frozen solid. Sheriff Bails was not much of a conversationalist, which I was glad, as it was taking all my energy to keep from crying. We both just sat in his kitchen sipping hot chocolate and waiting for my mom. 

     Finally, my mother arrived and after a polite thank you, we left for home. The ride home was strange. Mom, who could be quite an interrogator, was being very cautious about what she said to me. I stood by my, “I could not sleep so I went for a walk” alibi. I think Mom was certain that I was running away and was trying to figure out why and how she had failed at being a mother.

     I figured she had not found my note, so I was hoping I could get in the house before her and dispose of it. If I could not convince her that I was not running away, I knew I would never be able to persuade her that I was only going to JFK’s funeral for a week. If she did believe me, she would feel I was mentally ill and might send me to a psychologist. As I jumped out of the car to beat her in, my sister Lexie, came running out waving my note in her hand. Visions of Sparks, the Nevada State Insane Asylum, sprung into my head. Mom sat in the car reading the note as I went to my bedroom. When she came into by bedroom she nursed my foot and said we would discuss it after I had rested.

     I quickly dozed off and when I woke, I heard my mom discussing with a visiting friend the whole event. They explored every possible reason why I would run away, I was such a responsible young lady. I must be going through a stage; perhaps I had too much responsibility throw on me too young; perhaps my friends were a bad influence on me. Finally after her friend left she came in my bedroom to ask me why I had run away. At this point, I decided to tell the truth. I was not running away, I was going to JFK’s funeral. Try as she may, she could get no other story out of me.She never believed it, but I was not sent to the crazy house. It was dropped and I seldom spoke of my adventure, because I did not want to appear insane. 

     God had performed a miracle for me, but I never spoke of it, because if they were not going to believe the JFK story, I knew they certainly were not going to believe my miracle story. Our family watched the funeral on TV like millions of other stunned and heartbroken Americans. When I graduated from high school, I left for the SF Bay Area to study Photojournalism at the height of the hippy movement. I was freed to explore the world first hand now, and explore I did! Nine years later I would come into a personal relationship with the God of my miracle--Jesus Christ.


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