Saturday, April 28, 2012
1. Vet Center, St. Louis, MO. Art went in alone and I sat in the car for 15 minutes. When he came out I asked how it had gone. He said, "The team leader was very cordial. He sat me down and wanted to know why I was there and if I had any problems. He really seemed concerned about how I was doing. I was very nervous! I told him about the book and he was very appreciative in getting it, because in a few minutes he was going to go to a Viet Nam vets' session. He gave me his card and wished me luck on my journey. He also said he'd read the book. I told him there was a website where he could make comments if he needed to."
2. Our hosts Tom and Joan in Waverly, TN. Joan had asked to read it the night we got there. Her brother was a Viet Nam vet who died a couple of years ago of "unusual Asian cancer" - possibly brought on by Agent Orange.
3. Vet Center, Nashville, TN. This time I sat in the car for 25 minutes while Art went in. "He was on the phone on hold taking care of some business, and asked if I'd wait. When he was done he invited me in. He did the same thing - asked me how I was doing, was concerned whether I had any problems that were pressing. I told him about the book. He took it and said he'd read it. He also gave me his card."
4. Our hosts David and Sharon in Gordonsville, TN. Sharon has a brother, a vet with PTSD.
5. Vet Center, Knoxville, TN - Art received the same warm welcome. The team leader asked if we were going to the Johnson City Vet Center. When Art said yes, he said to say hello to his buddy, a team leader there.
6. Vet Center, Roanoke, VA. The team leader said he'd post one of the bookmarks we'd included on the bulletin board in the Center. He thanked Art for bringing the books around. Art said he thought the Viet Nam vets had either gotten help or were ignoring their PTSD entirely. The team leader said that since 9/11, three times as many Viet Nam vets have come in because of the stirred-up memories.
7 and 8. Polyface Farms, Swoope, VA. We talked to two employees about our book. One of them is married to a Viet Nam vet who served in the Marine Corps and talks about it all the time. The other has a dad who is a Viet Nam vet who served in the Army and never says a word about it. We wanted to buy a couple of books by Joel Salatin, the owner of the farm; his wife Teresa was there and she said, "Go ahead and take them." A wonderful trade!
9. Vet Center, Johnson City, TN - We arrived there during the lunch hour, and the team leader was just saying goodbye to someone he was talking to. He asked me what I wanted, took the book and thanked me. He had another commitment so he left.
10. Proprietor of the hotel in Harlan, KY. He said there are a lot of vets in Harlan, including his brother-in-law. He wanted to read the book and then pass it along.
11. Vet Center, Lexington, KY. The team leader was at a vet group meeting in other town. The secretary greeted Art warmly as she took the book. She said she'd make sure that he got it. If he hadn't gotten back before she left, she'd put it on his desk so he'd see it on Monday. Then she said that her dad was a Viet Nam vet. Art told her she ought to read it also, and she said she would.
Art says, "I hadn't realized how affected the country was by the Viet Nam war. All the way from the relatives being affected, and the proprietor in Harlan who was really shook up over his 1970 draft number. He told us how nervous he was the night the numbers were drawn - by birthday - to determine who would be drafted that year. It affected a lot more people than just those who went."
We have one book left. I wonder whether someone we meet in the next two days will need it.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
I was curious. So we've spent some days of this trip in Appalachia.
Our first stop was last Saturday in Clinton, Tennessee, at the Museum of Appalachia. This fine restoration was the life work of John Rice Irwin. A number of structures were moved from their original locations, restored or reconstructed, to create this living history museum. Also on display are items of everyday use. It's a fascinating place even for me, a woman not wild about museums.
You can find out more about the Museum of Appalachia here: www.museumofappalachia.org.
We drove parts of The Crooked Road, which celebrates the music of Appalachia. Last Saturday night we attended an event in Hiltons, Virginia, where the White Top Mountain band played, to the delight of both locals and visitors. Find out more about it at www.thecrookedroad.org.
Yesterday (Wednesday), we crossed the Virginia border into Harlan County, Kentucky. The road was old, winding, and narrow, crumbling away in places. We descended into a valley where a new "four-lane" took us the rest of the way into Harlan. The town's heyday is in the past. In the 50s it was a rough place, nicknamed "Bloody Harlan". Now it's a town in slow decline, augmented by a few strip malls. We stayed at the Little Inn of Harlan, a charming place. Check it out at www.thelittleinnofharlan.net.
At the suggestion of the Inn's proprietor, we went to the Harlan library and found a paper-bound, indexed book listing all the gravestones in all the cemeteries in the county. Many of the names looked familiar from my research; I descend on my grandmother's side from families named Brock, Howard, and Saylor. I met two Saylors in the first half hour. I found Jesse Brock, my ggggg grandfather. Following the book's directions, we drove to Wallins Creek, about ten miles south of Harlan, ascended the hill behind the Baptist Church, and found his grave in the lower Masonic cemetery.
Wallins Creek is in much steeper decline; here's a photo of the old main street.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Monday, night 1 - Tom and Julie live in a two-story brick home in a stately St. Louis neighborhood. They've lived in the house for 42 years and raised their children there. They're St. Louis natives. We share many of their views, so the conversation was easy. We ate dinner at their favorite neighborhood Italian place.
Tuesday, night 2 - Walter and Sue live in a ten-year-old house built by them on their 90 acres in Clinton, Kentucky. They lived in St. Louis for many years until they retired and moved to the country. Sue grew up in Clinton. They are active in their community and their church. Our conversation with them was somewhat careful as they are conservative and we are, well, not. They took us to dinner at their town's diner. They knew everyone in the restaurant.
Wednesday, night 3 - Tom and Joan moved to Waverly, TN about ten years ago from Chicago. They designed their unique four-story house to take advantage of a 180-degree view of Kentucky Lake. They're still working on finishing the house - had spent the day painting a stairwell and hanging their artwork. They're both spontaneous and creative and travel widely, often couchsurfing. We also met a young French couple who are finishing up a three-week stay with Tom and Joan. Tom made pizza for dinner - including his own pizza dough. We had lively conversation on a wide variety of topics and stayed up late in the process!
Thursday, night 4 - We were scheduled to stay in Shelbyville, TN with Gene and his wife, and I was going to speak at Gene's Lions Club. But Gene got sick, so we accepted another offer and couchsurfed instead with David and Sharon at Butterfly Hollow, their B&B in Gordonsville, TN. They were both born outside the South but moved there with their families when they were children. We had a great meal at a nearby restaurant and had thoughtful, interesting conversations with them both. They found their place about 15 years ago when they got lost in the country, and completely restored the house and cleared the land. They have a lovely, peaceful place. We would have liked to spend an extra night there. We hope they'll come to Seattle for a visit with us.
Friday, night 5 - Dave and Ruthie hosted us in their new, upscale condo in Knoxville, TN. They both worked for IBM for many years and retired to Knoxville because of its easy access to travel in every direction. We had an excellent meal in a local steakhouse - with lots of vegetables! - and they're considering staying at our place when we go to Maine for ten days in late August.
Saturday, night 6 - we stayed with Joseph and Merrilie in Bristol, TN (halfway through town it becomes Bristol, VA). They live in a house they built 20 years ago on six acres after moving to Tennessee from Connecticut. We drove together to Hiltons, VA where we attended a concert by the White Top Mountain band at the Carter Family Fold. Well, not really a concert. Lots of seating, but many of the locals danced - either "flatfoot" or clog - from a boy of about 9 to folks older than us. We got hot dogs and popcorn from the concession stand for dinner.
For the next five nights, we'll be at this B&B or at motels in Kentucky. We're resting! On most days we have driven less than 200 miles. As much as we have enjoyed our stays with other folks, it's not as relaxing as having our own place. We knew that would be the case, and we have no regrets as to how we set up this trip. It would have had a completely different flavor without the 12 people we met.
Our hosts were quite different. They ranged in age from mid-40s to late 70s, in politics from budding revolutionary to far right, in religion from fundamentalist Christian to absolutely nothing, in temperament from creative artist to wheeler dealer to introspective. They shared a love of travel and a welcoming spirit. Such a blessing they all have been!
When I plan our next trip, I think we'll look for two nights of being hosted for a night, followed by two nights at a B&B or a motel. A variation in pace, so to speak.
Tomorrow there's a big storm coming in - maybe even some snow. We've adjusted our schedule a bit and will stay here tomorrow to sit out the weather. We're looking forward to the down time.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
It was such a pleasure to meet you and Art and to film you at your home. The footage looks fantastic and I can't wait until we can show you the final product.
Thanks again for being a good sport, and walking, talking, standing around as much as we asked you to.
To all the commenters and readers of Linda's blog: we're doing all this in support of the "Marigold Ideas For Good" contest at http://www.takepart.com/marigold/contest. Anyone over 50 with an innovative idea for improving their community or the world can submit for a chance to win $5,000 and a Road Scholar educational adventure!
April 4, 2012 12:39 PM