Saturday, December 29, 2012


The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.



Hello Linda


It isn't difficult to be a wise person. Most of what we need to know is around us most of the time if we look and listen. The truth of things is as clear as daylight. So why do we get confused, make mistakes and act like fools??

There are many things that cloud over the daylight and it's very difficult often to know what they are. Fear, doubt, loss, laziness, selfishness, lack of time or money, ignorance and the belief that there are things over which we have no control are just some of the mini dragons that produce an inability to stop, look and listen, or at least they seem to.

Is it asking too much to remain calm in a panic? It probably is, even though the answer to whatever is frightening someone may be waiting for a calm moment to express itself. I think it was John Wayne who said that courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.

But we don't have to face dragons to show courage or wisdom. Sometimes the simplest things are the best things but they don't come out of human opinions and attitudes. We often have to saddle up against those. The voice of wisdom is telling us what's right, but we have to follow the intuition, the still, small voice.

When I was in high school a fellow student was injured in a football game. He suffered a broken ankle. He was treated and then sent to bed. There was a metal device which propped the blankets up over his foot to keep the pressure off of his ankle. We weren't close friends so I wasn't expected to visit him. But something, an intuition, a silent voice told me to pay him a call.

When I entered his room I found him in a lot of pain. He quickly asked me to fix the devise around his foot, it had fallen and there was pressure on his injured foot. I pulled open the covers and took the device off of his foot. I found that it hadn't been opened properly. I fixed it and put it back. He was very thankful. Going to see him when no one else was, was a small step for me but a big one for him.

Sometimes the things we do may not seem so wise at the time, they may be just ordinary actions. But the realization of the wisdom will come later.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Friday, December 28, 2012


The popular notion of an antithesis between appearance and reality has exercised a very powerful influence on scientific and philosophical thought.

Ernst Mach


Hello Sandy


There's an old saying, I don'[t know who originated it, that says an authority is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows all there is to know about absolutely nothing. Scientists who are poking their noses into dark matter and trying to discover a unified theory of nature are about as close to the nothing which is something as anyone can get. At least the nothing is something enough for mathematicians and physicists to chew on.

Now this vagabond is not against Science and the magical things it has done for the human race, still it must be very enjoyable for theorists to play with a multi million dollar collider to shoot atoms and particles at an unimaginable speed in the attempt to find something that may not be there.

I slash my way with a pen knife through the jungle of theories as written for the scientifically confused, such as myself. Standard Model, Higgs particle, weak bosons, the spontaneously broken, the comprehensive theory of nature, dark energy, string theory,the quantum mechanical theory and so forth have left me feet deep in a mud puddlde of thought from which I will emerge by reading a few Shakespeare sonnets.

But some questions remain. The theory of dark energy supposes that parts of our univwese exist in a different time and space condition from our own and therefore are unobservable; or that there is in fact another universe altogether with its own big bang. Are we alive in this universe and dead in that one? The tiny particles which race through time and space, running right now through your physical body, are so small they can only be identified by their behavior, their effect on other tiny particles. Furthermore it is an accepted fact that those particles will alter their behavior by the sheer fact of being observed, like an errant child being goofy until an adult walks into the room. Since that is so how can we be sure it's acting in a normal, natural fashion and not playing hide and seek with us? And lastly is the particle that is discovered at the end of the long collider tunnel simply what some scientist thinks and not a real thing at all?

Now I leave the mud puddle for the day as you ponder those mysteries of creation, or don't.


Dana Bate - Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up..


Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the night before


(Burlington VT) Late shoppers reported seeing a strange light in the sky over the Saint Albans Mall. The FBI was contacted and an investigation was launched. Major Ferrett of the US Air Force was quoted as saying there was no Air Force activity in the area that might account for it. But a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Vermont said it was probably either a meteor or the aurora borealis, which is sometimes seen that far south.


(Springfield. MA) Police responded to a report of a strange aircraft gliding soundlessly over this central Massachusetts community. Observers described it a a long thin object in two parts. The longer front part seemed to be vibrating. Max Gudrun, a local resident, said he thought it was definitely some alien space craft and should be shot down. No action was taken.


(New York City) Panic ensued on the streets of NYC when a large flying object was seen circling the Empire State Building. It was feared an attack might happen to the building similar to what had occurred at the World Trade Center. The Mayor alerted the police and fire departments of the city, but after a while the space craft moved on toward the south and posed no threat. There was still a great deal of panic on the streets, however, and the Mayor alerted the Dept of Defense.

(Trenton, NJ) A dispatch from the Governor's office notes that the Dept of Defense has advised the Governor to prepare for a possible UFO sighting, that a flying machine of unknown origin may be headed for New Jersey.


On another matter of this strange night, motorists reported a stampede of horses on the New Jersey Turnpike. According to the driver of one vehicle at the scene horses were pulling a wagon that had evidently lost its wheels. Sparks were flying from both sides of the wagon as it was pulled at great speed down the road. Traffic was backed up for about a half a mile when the strange team of horses and wagon disappeared. Someone said it took off and started to fly but that was discounted by others who said the horses probably just left the road and galloped onto a meadow. A bystander, Chuck Langley, claimed from his observation and experience that they were definitely not horses as he could see from the antlers. "I know a moose when I see one" he said. "Them was mooses."


(Bristol, PA) Police responded to a 911 call from a man, who didn't wish to give his name, about seeing a creature that looked like a Sasquatch covered in some red cloth on the roof of a neighbor's house trying to gain entry through the chimney. By the time the police arrived the Sasquatch was nowhere to be seen.


(Philadelphia, PA) Victor Sanchez of Philadelphia reported to the news that after retiring for the night he was awakened by some odd noises. Going to investigate he found some strange, brightly wrapped packages under his tree. The police were called who brought their bomb sniffing dog. Nothing unusual was found. Mr. Sanchez said he was going back to bed and would open them in the morning.


(Wheeling, WV) Residents report seeing a strange ......


"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."


DB - Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Nature is filled with a limitless number of wonderful things which have causes and reasons like anything else but nonetheless cannot be foreseen but must be discovered, for their subtlety and complexity transcend the present state of science.

Robert Laughlin


Hello Bruce


Yesterday, Saturday, I went for a long necessary walk to the market. It was a cold and cloudy day with the devil's own wind blowing. It was very hard and on the way back I was wondering how often and how long do I have to prove my grit before life says "OK, Dana, you've passed the test and have earned the right to have a 7/11 open up across the street."? (New York City spoiled me with its conveniences.) Late in the afternoon the sunlight came bravely out but did nothing to temper the temperature or unwind the wind.

To add to my discomfort all the police cars, ambulances and fire trucks went reeling through all the main streets with horns blasting and sirens blaring. One would have thought the whole town was on fire. But it was just a traditional sound off celebration. I guess they were honoring the solstice or expressing their gratitude that the world didn't end.

Now I am glad to be out of the winter adventure and inside with my needs as I listen to the howling wind and rattling windows; As a final gesture of nose thumbing at the cold and nasty day, on the way home I bought a tub of ice cream.

Last Winter was such a surprise to us living in the Northeast. There were Springlike days even in January. I am wondering what life will be next month: snow. sleet. freezing rain, winds that blow the trash around and knock over anything not bolted to the ground? The Farmers Almanac, in its terse and mystic manner, says "temperatures below average" and you know what that means. It promises to be an ear muff, snow shovel, anti freeze, sidewalk salted winter wonderland. Those of you who live in the tropics, eat your hearts out.

But winter is my favorite season. No two winters are alike and they each open a year in a special way that somehow transforms the year to come in a design and character unforeseeable which can only be understood by the winter that gave it birth. I cherish the challenges of winter and face them with a sense of humor and a realization of promise. During the two and a half months from the end of New Years Eve until my birthday I ponder the wisdom in the sleeping trees, I hear a spirit in the wind and the percussive music of the crunching snow under my feet. I see memories written in the icicles. Winter is the new year. It's a time for humility and patience. It's the time for rediscovering ourselves, and it's the time to prepare for that rediscovery to blossom into life when the Spring comes at last. Winter is a wonder time.


Dana Bate - Vagabond Journeys

Happy Holidays

Never Give Up


Friday, December 21, 2012

My Christmas List

All I want for Christmas is:

A healthy body

A happy home

A nice neighborhood

Friends nearby

Something important and fulfilling to do

Is that too much to ask?

I'll settle for any one of the above.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Never give up.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Music is the answer to everything.

Dana Bate


Hello Ken


After a day of troubles, computer and otherwise, which left me confused and irritated, I listened to a performance on my favorite radio station, WWFM in Trenton, NJ (also on the Web), of the Piano Concerto Number 4 by Camille Saint-Saens. Pascal Roget was the pianist and Charles Dutoit, the conductor.

The performance was so inspiring, beautiful and exciting it chased all my blues away. It will do the same for you if you listen to it carefully and give it the respect it deserves. I don't care if you don't like classical music or even if you don'[t like music in general, there is a magic carpet ride to other and better worlds to be taken and shared.

There are two things in this world that never lie: mathematics and music.

DB - the Vagabond

Never give up.


Monday, December 10, 2012

The Song

From Maoz Tzur, to Jingle Bells, to

Adeste Fideles, to Auld Lang Syne,

the world is singing. and we are the song.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Autumn Song

The Autumn sky says its good bye much too soon.

Dark clouds that could reflect the sunlight

Now stretch their fingers across the amber sky.

Amber, red and yellow leaves banish the summer's green.

The playground empties out too early.

The neighbor's children can be heard but not seen.

In the morning mother finds how cold the car door handle is.

She checks the kids for proper clothes.

The brisk wind sends dusky leaves dancing down the street.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Nathan, Don't Go

I always try to improve, to find new ways of expressing myself, to keep looking for truth and originality.

Burt Lancaster


Hello Sue


One day I was standing with a stranger on the corner of 48th Street and 8th Avenue. I was looking across at B. Smith's and I remarked that it was the only 2 story building on that stretch of the avenue. It was such a prime piece of property we wondered how long it would be before someone bought it up and built a high rise on it. As far as I know it's still there. We also remarked how in New York if you turn your back they take down one building and put up another and you forget what was there.

But the last time I was around 43rd Street I noticed that Al's Diner is gone. I think Al was open all night, but I went in at about 5 a.m. when I was responsible for the morning news on WQXR in the NY Times building across the street. One morning I saw a sign that he would be closed for repairs. And so he was, for about 3 weeks. When I went back he charged me 40 cents for my coffee instead of the usual 50. When asked he said he lowered his prices to celebrate his improvements. Now that whole block has been renovated and Al has retired.

In my lifetime as a New Yorker I have known the following things:

* The fabulous Penn Station torn down and an uninspiring replacement built.

* The original Metropolitan Opera House torn down.

* Grand Central Station completely renovated.

* Luchows went out of business.

* The Russian Tea Room went out of business and reopened.

* Times Square renovated.

* Yankee Stadium demolished.

* The Astor Hotel demolished.

* The building and destruction of the World Trade Center.

Just to name a few.

Now Nathan's of Coney Island is closed to repair the damage done by Hurricane Sandy. Will it open again? Millions of New Yorkers hope so. Nathan's has been open and serving its famous hot dogs 365 days a year for almost 90 years. How can it disappear? If it does, something else will open up and Nathan's will be a memory.

What is the lesson? Life is about changes, but it's also about improvements and finding new ways of doing things.. Luchows is gone and now something else is there. Al closed to make improvements The Metropolitan Opera House moved and rebuilt somewhere else.. The Yankees are still playing baseball.

Every corner of our lives can be a place for change, improvement and originality. We will find new ways and old ways will be forgotten. We don't need a hurricane to make it happen.

Vagabond Journeys

Dana Bate

Never Give Up



Saturday, December 1, 2012

On The Sidewalks

There is only oneself facing forever the problem of one's self discovery.

Lawrence Durrell


Hello Marty


Where I am is not my home. I don't like living here. I don't want to live here any more. I want to go to my home. But I don't know where that is.

My childhood was one of those unfortunate ones you sometimes read about where a child has to keep moving for financial or other reasons. I moved over 25 times before I left high school. As a result there is no place that I can identify as home.

One bit of knowledge I have as a result of that experience is that a home is a major source of support for anyone facing the rigors of understanding himself and establishing himself in the world. It's a safety net of sorts. As Robert Frost said "Home is the place where, when you've got to go there, they've got to take you in." But what is a person to do who has no home to go to when he's got to go there?

You sometimes hear about folks who never leave home. A man may grow up, have a job, get married and bring his wife home to live with his parents. Sometimes that even works out.

But the danger of growing up without a home is a major deprivation of a large facet of his identity. A man who has never had a home usually doesn't know how to make one because he doesn't know what it is. That's my problem. I used to joke that wherever my career took me as an actor I usually wanted to stay there. And that's why I ended up where I am now.

"Where are you from?" they ask.

"All over." I reply.

"Who are you?"

"I'm an actor." But even that's not good enough. I haven't been on the stage for almost 12 years. Without the badge of a home to cling to the puzzle of self discovery becomes more difficult. There is no place to go at Christmas time where an uncle might ask "How's your career going?" My career is in my back pack and only I know how it's going.

The thorniest questions and the hardest answers are worked out on the cement sidewalks of the city. Those who know me the best are those who have been on those same sidewalks and have tightened the knots that hold the cobweb together.

I took a long, necessary walk this evening on shaky legs, in the bitter cold. It doesn't matter to me. The discomfort, the exhaustion, the solitary struggle, they don't matter to me. And they would not matter to the fellow in the nice warm home that might have been mine. But I alone know where my heroism is. I discovered it.

Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Who is he?

The ways of the world are weird.

Walter Kaufmann


Hello Stuart


One day he invented the wheel. The next day he attached a bucket and handles to it and had a wheelbarrow. The day after that he added three more wheels to it, with a cart on top and a horse in front. The fourth day he laid down some tracks and put a 100 car freight train on them.

On day he put a few sticks together, The next day he used more sticks with some leaves and built a structure he could sit under. The day after that he built a house. On the fourth day he built the Taj MahaL

One day he gathered some stones together and practiced throwing thm. The next day he made a sling and got even better at throwing them. The day after that he built a catapult. On the fourth day he invented the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

One day he threw a log in the water and watched it float. The next day he tied a few logs together and sat on them while they floated. The day after that he put up a mast and tied a sail to it so he could navigate around the water. The fourth day he built a battleship.

One day he took a stick and some mud and made a drawing on the wall of his cave. The next day he mixed up some ingredients to make colors. The day after that he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. On the fourth day he invented the camera.

One day he blew into a hollow reed and heard a sound. The next day he gathered up other reeds af different lengths and listened to them. The day after that he tied them together and made music. On the fourth day he built a pipe organ.

One day he threw a rock and killed a man. The next day he invented the hand grenade. The day after that he invented the hydrogen bomb. On the fourth day he.....




Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pages Of Adventure

The experience of reading is not passive.

Erica Jong


Hello Arlene


I am always a bit puzzled by those advertisements that offer me a subscription to great books that come in leather bound, expensive and elaborate designs, particularly on the spines. It seems to we those books were not meant to be read but to sit on a book shelf looking impressive. If one wants to read "War and Peace" it would be better to leave the ostentatious copy on the shelf and go out and buy the paper back. By the time you finish reading it (if you ever do) it will be well roughed up.

I am amused at Marcel Proust's remark that the leather bound tomes ought to contain all the latest gossip and inconsequential news while the world's great literature should be printed in the daily newspapers It's not a bad idea if it gets people to read important literature.

One can generally tell a genuine reader by observing his book cases. They are usually jam packed with books and look like they are in state of chaos, which they aren't. I don't have any book cases. What I have is book piles. They are piled on the tables and chairs and on the floor. Some of them never leave my side. Some of them I've read, some I'm reading and some I am reading again.

Tucked between the pages of a book is the authors world, and that world is expressed in the author's words, anywhere from simple jokes to esoteric metaphysical visions. Reading a book invites one into a journey, an explorations and the discovery of a different paradigm of understanding. It's an adventure of the mind

Today people read off their computer screens, kindles or phones. Imagine reading "Wars and Peace" on your iPad.

Have I ever read a book that changed my life? I love my books. I loved my books because they're books and because I know that as I read them they do change my life to one degree or another even if the change is imperceptible.

Dana - Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Finding The Door

Somewhere in the heart of experience there is an order and a coherence which we might surprise if we were attentive enough, loving enough or patient enough.

Lawrence Durrell


Hello Margie


I know there is a meaning behind the words I write and that I keep writing to discover it. An artist draws inspiration from the universal bank of ideas, which is eternal and infinite in its varieties, as numerous as the stars and as vast as the distances between them. What the artist makes of those ideas depends partly on his talent and skill, partly on dedication and hard work and partly on the need to seek and find, and then to expose, or not, the unknown reality of the existence of those ideas, the unheard sounds and unseen colors.

When searching through the universal mind of ideas and creations trying to find the reality of all realities, we artists are poor tailors, cutting out patterns and trying to fashion together something that fits. It never does and that's why we keep trying.

I know that what I write has a greater meaning and a greater purpose that isn't mine. Musicians know that also. There is no end to what can be discovered in music. In a certain way music is what all art is trying to achieve.

But as science is trying to discover the universal law of physics which will explain everything, and medicine is trying for the universal panacea, the door remains not closed and locked but undiscovered. Once the opening is found, and the genius can step out into the unknown, unheard and unseen, art may disappear or take a new form, science may also, but we will know that all of our efforts to find the truth and understand it, from the simple drawing of a flower to a monumental Russian novel were never done in vain.

Durrell is correct. The first important step is to pay attention, to carefully read the words, really listen to the music and really look at the painting, realizing that you are looking "through a glass darkly."

Next comes the love. "The mightiest space in fortune nature brings to join like likes and kiss like native things" says Shakespeare. The courage of honest desire to find the light and share it no matter what it may be is requisite to understand what is written. That honest, humble affection can't help bring a greater coherence into one's experience.

It is the nature of truth to reveal itself, especially to the waiting, expectant mind. But the hidden secret of truth is harder to find because it is so mysterious and so undefinable and yet so simple. The paintings, poems, songs and dances are merely the outward shapes and patterns of the gown. They are invitations for the immortal truth to visit us.

The patient, persistent, unselfish search for the truth behind the truth will never end. It can't.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Never Give up.



Friday, November 23, 2012

No Rules

You really need to be on the edge and you have to keep your eyes open.

Jam Master Jay


Hello Kate


I'm glad I never went to Drama School. I knew a few acting teachers I admired, but knew them only on a professional level. But I'm grateful I never enrolled in the curriculum of some college drama department. I have witnessed too many young people who come to New York City fresh out of some Academy of the Arts or University Theatre program believing, mistakenly, that they have received formal training as actors. They arrive with some teacher's theory or a rule book of practices and procedures which is incorrect, at best a waste of time and at worst destructive. If they aren't careful they will try to insist on a faulty method of work in the face of those who know better. Most of those unfortunate folks fade away and disappear. Or what's worse set themselves up in some other drama department and keep passing out the same, slightly modernized, nonsense.

Years ago I gave a lesson in voice placement to a man who had graduated from one of the most respected college theatre departments in the country. Voice placement is one of the fundamental tools of an actor's craft. I was alarmed at how this fellow could have graduated with a BFA as an acting major and never been taught it or even heard of it.

I learned acting by mixing my few drops of talent in a big bowl of experience and then baking it under the hot lights of a stage. And one major ingredient in that experience was working with other actors and directors who knew ore than I did, keeping my opinions humble, my questions pertinent and respectful and my eyes and ears open. Why did I then know more than the graduates? The answer can be found from one of the best directors I ever worked with who came into rehearsal the first day with a button that read "There are no rules."

Yes, I was living on the edge, sink or swim, learn or lose, do it or die. One of the most important things I observed was how easy it was for some people to get trapped in dogma. If life isn't a challenge eery day it is too easy to collapse into systems.

There are rules connected with theatre (although, again, some people get through college without learning them) just as there are rules involved with sports, science, technology, engineering and business. Knowing the rules is important. But there comes a point, usually earlier than people expect or believe, when the creative mind must be brought into play. And that frequently requires throwing out something you knew or thought you knew. Life doesn't really repeat itself. Every day is a new experience with a new challenge. It forces us to the edge whether we like it or not. But for the one who is willing to throw away the rule book and see life with new eyes it's reality that those buried in dogma will never know.

Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Spreading The Kindness

Gratitude is born in hearts that take the time to count up past mercies.

Charles Jefferson


Hello Everyone


Sometimes I wish I could round up all the people who have ever done me a kindness and tell them how much their actions mean to me. There are too many of them even to count and many of them I don't remember.

Yesterday was one of those days when kindness and mercy were in the air. It was a simple shopping trip to the supermarket, and yet in almost every step of the way I witnessed gentleness, kindness and consideration of others, from the store clerk who opened the plastic bag I was having trouble with, to the cashier who helped me put the bags in my shopping cart, to the truck driver who waited for me to pass in front of him before he left the parking lot and finally to the neighbor who offered to drive me home and who stuffed all my bags and my shopping cart into her car, drove me to my building and carried some of my parcels including the shopping cart up the stairs. And then she gave me her phone number in case I wanted a lift some other time.

It is very difficult to measure that kind of blessing or to reward it after expressing gratitude, except to return it whenever possible in someone else's life.

Now, as I sit here enjoying my solo Thanksgiving, I am contemplating the lesson learned from yesterday and all the past experiences when I have born witness to kindness, mercy, brotherly and sisterly love unasked for and unexpected expressed towards me and others. The lesson is to look for it, to look for ways to help people no matter how great or small the need.

One afternoon I was standing under an awning in front of a building. It was pouring rain. I was contemplating walking the two blocks to my home or waiting to see if the rain would let up. An Asian woman came out of the building wearing the uniform and carrying the bag of a foreign airline flight attendant. She looked at the rainy street which was full of cars and wondered how to get a cab. She was obviously not used to life in New York. I saw one coming, ran out into the street and stopped it. Then I motioned to her as I held the door open. She ran over and got in with a big smile and a thank you. It was a small thing but it was a chance to practice the law of human rightness, of noticing something you can do for someone and doing it.

Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On The Death Of Children

Life is our sweetest gift. It should never be wasted on war.

Dana Bate


Hello Geo


Bombs drop, rockets are shot off and children die on both sides

The activity of war is not subhuman, it's subbeast. Animals only kill to eat or to protect their children. We blow them up. Will some psychiatrist diagnose and cure this schizophrenic civilization we live in. We humans are capable of great artistic wonders, sublime reasoning and miraculous scientific achievements. Why are we also capable of attacking each other, torturing each other and destroying each other on a grand scale? What has created in us this evil inanity and how can we possible justify it?

I look at the photographs and I see no difference between the destruction of Gaza by the Israeli bambs and the destruction of New Jersey by Hurricane Sandy. The difference is only that one is pitilessly man made.

It's useless to talk about "The Free World." It's a small world and there is no world leader who doesn't know what's going on. One can talk about the history of Israel and Palestine all one wants to. That's just ignoring the question. If it wasn't going on there it would be going on somewhere else. Where are the leaders who can stand up outside of politics and declare that revenge is not an option and back it up with power?

The heinous activity of getting even, teaching a lesson or gaining so-called closure, whether it's across a table, in a class room, on a highway, on a football field or across an intrnational border must be finally and ultimately put down.

It is possible and inevitable for us to evolve to a higher level of humanity. Those who deplore evolution must believe that God created us to be also savages.

We don't need a war on terrorism, terrorism is just a symptom. We must have a War on Vengeance or, considering the weapons of today and tomorrow, how will we survive? When will there be no more children left to kill?

Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Going Too Far

Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.

Thomas Jefferson


Hello Ernie


One day in a high school English class the teacher made the assignment to write a two page autobiographical essay making sure that we didn't begin any sentence with the words "I" or "my." Think about that. The one subject we seem to enjoy thinking and talking about more than any other is ourselves. To write about ourselves without starting with I or my is a formidable task. It forces us into a pool of objectivity which is not all that comfortable. I took the plunge and began my sentences with "he" and "his."

We live in a super sensuous age, more so than any other I think. It's because there are so many immoral advantages in place to prevent otherwise harmful results. It's the age of "anything goes." People cheat in school or on the job and have no conscience about it. People break the law believing, for good reason, that a smart lawyer will get them out of it if they're caught. Infidelity to the marriage vows is rampant in spite of the number of people who have been caught at that and had to pay the emotional tax for it. People use drugs for every conceivable reason believing that if they go too far the miracle of modern medicine will save them and clean them out so they can go back to it. People abuse their bodies in other ways just for the "thrill" of it. "Excessive" is the word, there is no pleasure in moderation. Where are the kicks in being ethical?

his age of experimental miscreance is founded on two limited and unfulfilling hedonistic and narcissistic ideas. One is that we live in the body and that's it.. It enables us to have little regard for other people or our own selves. There is no morality in nerves or blood. So "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die." Get drunk, get high, have sex where you can get it. Who cares. It's pitiful to see pastors, politicians, teaches and TV news contributing to this barbaric waste of decency.

The other idea is personal rights, entitlement, "I am the center of my universe." That gives me the freedom to think about myself to the exclusion of anyone else except the few I allow into my world. That gives me the right to take my pleasure where I want to, even if it means cheating, lying, robbing and expressing my rage by beating up the referee of my son's softball game if I don't like his call and shooting the "idiot" who cut me off on the highway. It gives me the right to vote against a good proposal because I don't like the guy who proposed it.

So go ahead overdose, overdraw, over indulge, go too far, be as selfish as you can. You will soon find the hook. And then you'll be hooked.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Never give up.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Beautiful Dreamer

We must be pulled by our dreams, rather than pushed by our memories.

Jesse Jackson


Hello Geo


Go to the counter at the back of the store and cash in your past. It won't matter how much you get for it or what those who take it from you think it's worth. As you leave the store you will find that life's great adventure is walking with you, right under your feet.

It's never too late to have dreams. In fact the more of life that is stored up in the mental pocket, the more dreams there are to color it. Hopes and wishes become dressed up and glamorized by dreams. Dreams are powerful and yet they aren't heavy (like some of your past was). Dreams are imaginative and can vaporize assumptions. Dreams are adventuresome, the dreams come first, the logic follows. To the dream the future's better day is today. To dwell sincerely and certainly in the dream calls nature on to the job. When the world of mediocre thinking says it can't be done the dream says "nonsense."

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on" wrote Shakespeare. We become our dreams which is why we watch our dreams, shape and designate them to the best path. There is an old saying from some anonymous sage which says "You always get what you want, so be very careful about what you want." You can always test out a dream by what it makes to grow in you: weeds, flowers, trees, forests or jungles. The best kind of foliage to grow out of a dream is ideas. We do not invent ideas. They exist already in the unexplored landscapes of thought. But we can discover them. All the great inventions and accomplishments existed first as ideas to which a dreamer was pulled by his dream. To discover and articulate an idea is the grandest of activities. It is creative, vital. It is life at it's most interesting. It is the adventure walking right under your feet.,

Dana Bate - Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thou shalt vitalize thyself

You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at.

W. H. Auden


Hello Beth


Well, I spent the past two weeks retelling the story of Brian On The Road. As some guessed it is somewhat autobiographical. It is based on my own hitch across the country in 1960, but also embellished in parts to make it a more interesting story. I hope those who read it enjoyed it as much as I did reading again and remembering some of the events that really happened. It was a sort of vacation for me.

The last chapter was printed yesterday, Saturday, so now I have to get back to work writing again.

Hurricane Sandy has come through here, followed by the nasty Nor'easter, leaving behind detritus and destruction, broken houses and broken hearts. When disasters happen on such a large scale repair takes much time and effort. In many cases it is impossible to go back, rebuild and regain what was lost. In such cases and in every case the action should be to go forward. Such a step will often reveal things lost that are better remained lost. Starting over does not mean going back. Loss does not mean defeat. Lack is an empty barrel waiting to be filled.

I remember talking with a young actress who had recently come to New York City to pursue her career. Among other things she said that she knew what her limitations were. I told her she had no limitations. She questioned me about that. I told her that the more she worked the better she would become and the further away she would get from those limitations, until her career was choices, not just opportunities.

The building blocks of life are not for rebuilding but for grasping and holding on to what a life is really all about and going forward with it, doing what we are good at, our specialties, without limitations.

Dana Bate - Vagabond Journeys

Never give up.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Brian On The Road 16

November 17, 1960

When he woke up, he found his clothes clean and fresh outside the door to the room. After breakfast and a few thanks yous and good byes, Kevin drove Brian into town. He checked into the Hollywood YMCA, walked down Hollywood Boulevard looking at all the stars with names on them embedded in the sidewalk not knowing that many years later his name would be one of them. Then he got a job for the season at the largest bookstore west of Chicago.

And that's how Brian Sims got to California.

The End


Dana Bate

Friday, November 16, 2012

Brian On The Road 15

Novwember 16, 1960

When he woke up again it was daylight and there was more traffic on the road.

"We're coming into the edges of LA, Brian. Is that good for you?"

Brian didn't know where in California Green's Point was but he thought that LA, Hollywood, would be an appropriate place to start. "Yeah, I think so."

Bob pulled the car over. Brian opened the door and slid halfway out of the seat. He looked behind him. Fluffy picked his head up, the two boys were watching him, Bob and Mary Lou were smiling.

"I am really grateful to you for bringing me all this way, Bob. I know it's been hard on you, but I'm very thankful. I hope you have good luck in Oregon and a happy life from now on, all of you. No more being afraid."

"Thank you" said Mary Lou. "Well now, you have good luck and happiness yourself."

"Thank you, I'll try." He closed the door and stepped back. The car drove off. He was sorry to see it go.

Bran would never see those people again but for the rest of his life he would wonder how they made out in Oregon.

After watching their car disappear up the highway, Brian walked down the ramp into a neighborhood of palm trees and warm air. The morning sun was bright and he was feeling good. He soon found out that he was in Pasadena. He knew of the Pasadena Playhouse. It was famous. Brian hoped that maybe someday he would work there.

After an hour or so of walking along, a tanned young man in a Cadillac convertible with the top down swung briskly over to Brian and stopped. "Hey. Where'r ya goin?" the driver said.

"I'm not sure" answered Brian. "It's Green Park."

"Green's Park. "It's near the beach. Hop in. I'll take you to Santa Monica. It's not far from there."

Brian got in and the car swerved back onto the road and whizzed off. The air felt good going through Brian's hair. He looked with great interest at what they were passing. There were palm trees, eucalyptus trees, vines dripping down from second story balconies. There was an eclectic array of buildings. There didn't seem to be any identifiable style to Los Angeles, thought Brian, but everything seemed bright and friendly.

When they reached Santa Monica the driver pulled into a gas station to fill up and said "You're almost there. You can make it from here in no time."

"Okay. Thanks." Brian got out of the car. After the driver filled up the tank he drove off in another direction. Brian went to a pay phone, fished the number for Bob's parents out of his pack and dialed it.

"Hi, this is Brian Sims....Yes...Yes I am....I'm in Santa Monica....I'm in a Mobil station....It's across the street from some place called Albert's....You do?...Okay, Great." He hung up.

About five minutes later a car drove up and swung over to him. Inside was a middle aged man who asked "Are you Brian?"

"Yes, sir."

"I'm Bob's father. Get in."

Brian got in and in another few minutes they drove into a driveway next to a very nice house on a hill overlooking the sea.

The were met at the door by a very nice looking woman, about 40, with a big smile on her face. "Hello Brian. Welcome."

She ushered Brian down a hall to a bedroom and said "I've laid out some of Bob's clothes for you. Take a shower and then bring me your dirty clothes. You smell awful." She grinned a big grin and left, closing the door.

On the bed were underwear, a shirt, some trousers and a bathrobe. He got undressed and realized that he hadn't had his clothes off since somewhere near Cleveland. He didn't want to get out of the shower it felt so good to get clean at last.

When he finally got dressed he took his bundle of clothes out to Bob's mom. "Good" she said. "Now go join Kevin on the veranda." He did so, where a drink was awaiting him.

As Brian sat down he thought to himself, 14 days ago, two weeks ago, I was on the back of a motorcycle in Massachusetts. And now I'm sitting in fresh clothes on a comfortable chair with a gin and tonic in one hand, a cigarette in the other, staring out in the afternoon sun at the beautiful Pacific Ocean in California.

Over dinner he told them about his trip: Chuck and the motorcycle ride, sleeping on the floor of the gas station in Worcester, the bike shop in Buffalo, the spill they took in Erie, visiting the college campus, unexpectedly finding friends in Cleveland, falling asleep on some boxes and waking up in the back yard, the long trek through the lightening and freezing rain in Ohio, Zack and the truck, crossing the Mississippi River, Linda, the Good Witch of the North, the long walk through Kansas, sleeping on a mattress in the basement, the jail in Oklahoma, the Louisiana state trooper with the daughter in Las Vegas, the Cherokee in the pick up truck, the rattlesnake in Yucca, and finally the renegade family on their way to Oregon fleeing an abusive husband and father back east. He left out the references to Chili Pepper, Della and Sabrina.

"Oh, I just remembered. You got a letter" said Bob's mother.

"A letter?" asked Brian, surprised.

"Yes. I'll get it."

She returned with a letter addressed to Brian Sims c/o Kevin Schultz. He looked for a return address and all it said was DL.

"May I?" he asked.

"Of course" said Kevin.

He opened the letter and read: Dear Brian, when I got your postcard I asked Tasha to find out from Chuck where Bob's parents lived. So I'm writing this to find out if you made it through okay and if you're settled in wherever you are. We miss you. I miss you. Be careful, I may come and visit. Della.

"Someone you know?" asked Mrs. Schultz,

"A nice girl I met in Cleveland. She tracked me down. She got your address from Bob. When I get settled I'll send her my address so this won't happen again."

"Oh, we don't mind, dear" said Mrs. Schultz. "Please keep in touch with us and come for Thanksgiving if you can. Bob said he would fly down for a few days. You two can conspire" she said with a big grin.

Brian slept very well that night.


To be continued.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brian On The Road 14

November 15, 1960

Bright sunlight woke Brian. Sleeping propped up in the back of a car was not a good choice, but it was his only choice. He bent his knees and then straightened out his legs again. He was about to put one foot out onto the floor of the car when a bright yellow caught his eye, He looked over and saw a colorful rope coiled up on the floor. He hadn't noticed it when he got in last night. It reminded him of a braided toy whip he once owned from a trip to the circus when he was a boy back in Waynesburg. This was bigger though and the colors were very bright in the sunlight. He almost reached down to puck it up but he felt a cold wind go up his back and a fist hit his stomach when he realized it was a snake,

He carefully and slowly slid feet first through the doorless side of the car away from the snake. The snake didn't move. When he was out he went around to the other side, carefully reached into the car and slowly took his back pack out being careful not to drop it on the snake. While he was doing that the snake moved slightly and Brian could see the rattle.

He quickly ran away from the car to the front of the gas station deciding that ride or no ride he was not going to spend another night in Yucca. He picked up a map of California from the gas station and went into the diner for some breakfast.

He sat at the counter, ordered a coffee and felt a great relief as the sweat began to form on his face. When the coffee came he ordered a big breakfast and opened the map. It's good to be alive, he thought.

He saw in the map that just across the border there was a city called Needles. If I can make it to there I can probably get a bus across the desert if I can't get a ride.

After breakfast he crossed the road. Many cars and trucks passed him but no one stopped. A few times a car pulled into the diner or gas station but when they came back out they ignored him, So after a few hours of frustration he decided to start walking. I walked a long way in Ohio and again in Kansas, he thought, I can walk this. Never mind the Cherokee's warning, I'll just be careful, keep my eyes on the ground and not pick up any lizards. So he started out. He was soon going to get a ride, and one of the most unusual rides of his journey.

So Brian walked along the highway keeping his eyes to the ground, only looking up when he heard a car approaching. No one was stopping for him. But he was determined to make it to Needles by the evening even if he couldn't get a ride.

As the day wore on it was getting hot. The winter clothes he was wearing kept him comfortable at night, but now they were oppressive. Nevertheless he didn't want to remove anything for fear of losing it by accident.

He occasionally glanced out across the desert. The scenery didn't change: sand, shrubbery, cactus, twisted trees and mountains in the distance.

He suddenly stopped walking when he saw something he couldn't explain. It was an abject skimming along the tops of the trees and cactus somewhere between Brian and the distant mountains. He thought it might be an eagle or some large desert raptor, but its wings didn't move and it was silent. He couldn't tell how large it was or how far away it was. He stood watching it as it made its way to the side of the mountain range and started to curve around it.. Then he heard a motorized sound coming from the same direction. The object had been a jet plane, now out of sight, that had broken through the sound barrier, and now its noise was pursuing it at the same speed but with nothing to identify it. Brian was used to hearing the sonic boom when they broke through the barrier but he had never seen one in flight before. It was an eerie sight. Eventually the sound disappeared around the mountain, still chasing its owner.

Brian continued to walk thinking about that unusual experience and wondering what it was like to travel that fast. At one point a car passed that was completely full of people and things. Brian could see through the passenger window a woman with a child on her lap and a pile of clothes behind her. There was definitely no room for him in that car.

He kept walking and in about five minutes he was amazed to see the same car coming down the road in the opposite direction. The driver slowed down, made a U turn and stopped next to Brian. The woman was tossing kids and things into the back seat, then she opened the door and moved on over next to the man who was driving. The woman smiled at Brian and patted the seat, so he got in and pulled the door closed with his left hand. It was a tight squeeze but he was in. The man said he had been a hitchhiker in his younger days, knew what it was like and couldn't bear to pass him up.

They went on their way. The man was about 30 Brian guessed. The woman was a few years younger. Brian looked over his shoulder into the back seat and saw some suitcases and a pile of clothes. Sitting on the clothes were two twin boys about 4 years old and one small brown curly haired dog.

As they were driving along the man asked Brian a lot of questions about him, including where he came from and where he was going. When Brian said he was on his way to California the man said "Well, we'll take you there." Brian was relieved to know he had his ride across the desert.

The man asked him what he was going to do in California. "A friend and I want to open a movie studio."

"Oh, I love movies" said the woman. "I almost never get to see them. I hope you and your friend succeed. Make some good ones."

"We'll try."

They passed over the border, went through Needles quickly and headed out on to the desert.

Brian looked behind him again at the two boys and the dog. He was amazed at how quiet they were, even the dog. The woman asked them a few times how they were doing and one boy would answer "Okay."

"Where are you folks headed?" Brian asked.

"Oregon" was the only reply.

"Where'd you come from?"

"We came from Saint Louis" said the woman. "And we're moving to Oregon." Brian was impressed with her. She was a very sweet and polite person, and was not complaining at all that she was being jammed in between two men without much room to move.

Brian watched out the window as the desert flashed by. It was a lone and forlorn looking place but also beautiful in its severity. There were strange plants growing out of the sand, twisted trees and cracked earth. There were tiny flowers growing from what looked like dead wood. There were dunes for miles with occasional trees in them. A colony of cactus in strange shapes seemed to burst up out of the ground in clumps. In the distance towered demanding natural rock formations like castles and temples. If there was animal life it was furtive and hidden. Everything else was exposed by the blazing sun. This is a mystical place, thought Brian. I wonder who lives here.

After a while the woman spoke up suddenly and quietly as if she had been keeping a secret or a valuable piece of gossip. "I'm leaving my husband."

Brian was stunned. He couldn't speak.

"He's a mean man" said the woman.

"He beats her" said the man.

"He beats me. My husband is a cruel man. He's unfaithful. He gets drunk and beats me up and he smacks the kids around and the dog. We're all afraid of him. I can't take it any more. So we're leaving him. It's awful."

"You seem like a good man. So I guess we can tell you" said the man.

"Bob here is not the other man. He's my friend."

"We've been friends since we were kids in school together" said Bob.

"I'm Mary Lou."

"I'm Brian. Why Oregon?"

"My brother has a farm there. He said to come on up and stay. He can use the help" said Bob.

"Are you also from Saint Louis, Bob?" asked Brian.

"Yes, but I don't have a family there or anything so this seems like the right thing to do, for me also."

"How long have you been on the road?"

"Three days ago. We only stop for gas and a short nap. I want to get there" said Bob.

"How did it happen?"

"He went to work in the morning. I packed as much as I could in the suitcases and the rest I just piled in the back. Bob helped me. And then we left."

"Did you leave a note?"

"Yeah. I told him not to try to follow us or find us. I don't think he will. He doesn't want the responsibility any more. I think he's probably glad to see us go."

"Probably" said Bob.

"It's best for us. A new life. For me, the boys and Fluffy."

"Who's Fluffy, the dog?"


Brian looked behind him at Fluffy who was sitting up and wagging a tail at the mention of his name. "He's a cute dog."

"He used to kick Fluffy" said Mary Lou.

"Well, I'm sorry you suffered so much but you're probably doing the best thing" said Brian. "I have to thank you two times for picking me up in your full car and considering your circumstances."

"Happy to do it" said Bob.

The blazing afternoon sun was setting behind the hills ahead. Slowly things were becoming greener and cooler. They went on for another hour until Bob pulled into a gas station and filled up the car. Then he drove over to a convenience store, everybody got out, snacks were bought and he said "Nap time."

"Nap time" meant a lot of activity. Bob took the boys into the rest room. Fluffy was led out and taken on a walk to sniff out the right tree for his business and then was fed and watered. Brian went into the store and bought a pack of Pall Malls. The cigarette he got from the Cherokee was so good he thought he'd have another while he waited.

Soon snacks were distributed and quickly consumed. Everyone was back in the car with the doors closed. Bob put his head back and was quickly asleep. Brian was exhausted, so he had no trouble nodding off. He woke up briefly once to find the car on the road again. He saw it going over a series of corrugated hills, up and down like a gentle amusement park ride. It soon lulled him back to sleep.


To be continued


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brian On The Road 13

November 14, 1960

Brian woke to the sound of a car door slamming and a car starting. He looked up and saw Allen in the driver's seat about to pull out of the parking lot. "Good morning" he said. "Sleep good?"

"Yes, thank you."

"Let's go get some breakfast and hit the road."

Brian felt a little sheepish sitting in the back seat while Allen drove him like a chauffeur. But in a moment they pulled into a diner. It was very early. The sun was just coming up. A quick scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and coffee and the trip continued and so did Allen's lecture on human life. He knew right from wrong, good from evil, nice from nasty and truth from falsehood.

Finally Brian said "As a state trooper you must have seen a lot of things most of us never see."

"Yeah. I sure did" he said. "But I'll tell you something. There's a lot of good people in the world, but it's hard to find them. You have to look for them. The bad I take for granted. The good I look for. Look for the good, Brian, you'll find it. Or else it will just come along when you least expect it, but then you have to recognize it."

Allen went on talking as Brian thought about that and his other statements. He was thinking to himself that Allen stopping to pick him up was one of those good things that came along when he was least expecting it.

The highway was straight with almost no traffic on it. They soon crossed into Arizona. Allen was driving as fast as he wanted to. Brian thought if a cop pulled him over he would just show his badge and professional courtesy, or something like that, would let him go on.

The Arizona landscape was somewhat different from New Mexico but just as spectacular. There was a bit more greenery and some majestic mountains in the distance. They whizzed through the towns and cities.

Brian wondered about the people who lived in them, about people who spent their whole lives living in the innards of America, about the owner of the gas station in Worcester, the Massachusetts state trooper, the woman who owned the bike shop in Buffalo, the owner of the Liberty Diner in Ohio, the man driving two cars, the couple in the fancy car trying to find their son, Larry and his wife in Englewood, Zack, Sabrina, the waitress at the Country Cousin in Missouri. the man in Pratt who let him sleep on the mattress in the basement, Mother Linda the Good Witch of the North, Teena the waitress in Guymon, the cop who put him up in the jail, the cowboy from Texas with the blaring radio and now Allen. Brian wondered about them, the real Americans. He wanted to know them and tell their stories on film. But he knew it would take several lifetimes to do it and besides this city boy, this New Yorker/New Englander was not stopping. "California here I come" he sang silently to himself.

They sped quickly through Arizona and by the afternoon they reached Kingman where Allen turned to go north to Las Vegas. When they parted, Allen wished Brian good luck on the rest of his trip. Brian noted that of all those who took him any distance Allen was the only one who didn't ask him what he was going to do in California.

Brian looked around him and saw the road turning south. He wondered about that but it was the right road so he began walking along it and soon reached the edge of the town. To his right he saw a freight train slowly pulling out. It was near and moving so slowly that Brian thought of jumping on it. If he saw an open box car he could easily get into it. The train was probably going across the desert. He approached it cautiously but just then it picked up speed and was soon traveling so fast that trying to get on was impossible.

He walked back to the road and in a minute a pickup truck pulled over and stopped. Brian got in. The man driving was obviously a Native American. He had a long braid of dark hair down his back with a few feathers on a string tied to it. "Where you going?" he asked.

"Trying to get to California."

"Ah. I go a few miles." As they traveled, the man took a pack of Pall Malls out of his pocket and handed it to Brian. "Open that. Take one and give me one."

Brian carefully opened the pack. took out two cigarettes and handed one to the man. The man pushed in the cigarette lighter on the dash board. When it popped out he handed it to Brian to light his cigarette. Then Brian handed it back. The man pushed into the dash board again and then lit his own.

Brian was curious. "Are you a Navajo?"

"No. Cherokee. Where you from?"

"I started out in Boston, Massachusetts."


Brian could see some buildings up ahead. The Cherokee pulled over and stopped. "That's Yucca" he said. "Wait for a ride. Don't walk out on the desert. There's bad things out there that'll get you." Good advice that Brian was eventually to ignore.

"Okay. Thank you" he said. The Cherokee did a Uturn and drove back a few score feet and turned up a side road. Brian stomped his cigarette out on the highway and started walking. In about five minutes he came upon a small village with a dingy 6 unit motel and across the road a truck stop, a gas station and an area of abandoned cars. He was in Yucca, Arizona.

He stared down at the village near a road that went there. Ahead of him was sand, shrubbery, cactus and small twisted trees. After those came some simple dwellings. In the far distance he heard a single dog barking. He thought it might be the only dog in the village.

As he was looking, a freight train slowly approached and stopped. Brian wondered if it was the same train he almost jumped onto in Kingman. If so, and they saw him, they might throw him off and he would be in the same place he was now. But then he wouldn't have met the Cherokee, had a free cigarette and been warned about the desert. After a few moments the freight train moved on to places unkown.

As Brian turned to cross the highway he was startled to see a semi perched on a pole many feet in the air. He was puzzled about how they managed to get the truck up there but he figured it was good advertising to tell truckers coming in from a distance that here was a place they could stop and refresh themselves before they hit the desert road.

He went into the diner to have some lunch then back out to the road to hitch. He was taking the Cherokee's advice and not trying to walk, but no one was stopping to pick him up. The day wore on and he got no rides. He would occasionally go back into the diner to rest and then back out to the road. He was still dressed for the northern November weather and here it was hot in the afternoon sun. But the night was coming and Brian was going to be glad he was warmly dressed.

Back in the diner he overheard a conversation between the owner and one of the truckers about a hitchhiker who had come across a frozen lizard on the side of the road. They guy thought the lizard was dead so he picked it up and put it in his pocket. As the day worn on the lizard woke up and bit him in the chest. The guy died. Brian remembered the Cherokee's warning "There's bad things out there that'll get you."

As night was coming on Brian went out to see if he could still get a ride. A lumber truck was just pulling out carrying what looked to Brian like telephone poles. Even though the road was clear the driver stopped at the exit. Brian thought maybe the driver was expecting him to jump on and lie down with the lumber. He wasn't sure. It might be a ride across the desert. On the other hand he might end up in some remote place, impossible to get out of. He let the truck go.

Night came cold and dark. The diner owner had no place for Brian to sleep so he went around to the back, found a car with no doors on it. stretched out his aching legs on the back seat, propped up his head with his back pack and fell asleep.


To be continued.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brian On The Road 12

November 13, 1960

Brian woke up to the sound of a voice. He looked up. The cell door was open and the unsmiling policeman was standing there with a container of coffee. "Here" he said. "It's black, no sugar."

That was not the way Brian liked his coffee but he wasn't going to refuse it. "Thank you" he said. "And thanks a lot for putting me up. I'm very grateful." The cop nodded and Brian left the police station.

The sun was coming up, yellow and strong as he drank the hot coffee. Last night's restaurant was open so Brian went in for some breakfast. He thought about the cowboys and cowgirls of the previous night: who were they, where did they come from? Other than the small town he could see no expansion or developing real estate on either side of it. Somewhere, off in the mysterious distance was a drive-in movie, accessible only by pick up trucks evidently. He wondered if when those kids grew up their children would be watching one of Brian's films from the same al fresco theatre.

After breakfast he walked out to the edge of the town and back onto the highway. In a few minutes the same unsmiling cop passed him in his own vehicle, evidently off duty now. They saw each other and Brian saluted him as he went by. Soon after Brian got a couple of short rides. One of them left him off a short walk from the next town. The highway had been cut through a mountain area and there were cliffs on either side of it with signs warning of falling rocks. When he heard a strange sound he looked up to see if there were any rocks coming down on him. There were no rocks but there was a cougar looking down at him, tense and dangerous, deciding if Brian was a good catch for lunch. Brian’s heart was pounding but he resisted the desire to run. He lowered his gaze and just kept walking.

Brian just kept walking and silently, but fervently, saying "Mr. Mountain Lion please don't jump on me, Mr. Mountain Lion please don't jump on me." Fearing to look up again he kept his eyes on the road ahead of him, Finally, after he had gone about 50 feet, uttering his prayer to the cougar, he glanced up and the animal was gone. He sighed in relief. Later on during his trip Brian would have another experience with a wild beast more dangerous than this one.

The road descended from the cliff area to the town below. When he entered the town he saw a sign saying "Welcome to Dalhart." Somewhere along the road he had crossed the border into Texas. He had always wondered about Texas. It was a place with history and Brian had always wanted to visit there, But his only Texas experience was to be in an obscure corner of it in a town no one had heard of.

He saw a general store, went in and bought some post cards, them went to the post office near by and bought some stamps. He sat down at a table in a tiny park and wrote some notes telling people where he was. He wrote to his folks back in Waynesburg. He wrote to his sister Louise in Virginia. He wrote to Bob in Boston. He wrote to Margie and Mary Lou in Cleveland. He had to go into his back pack to get some addresses and came across the slip of paper with the name Della Lipinski an address and a phone number. He debated with himself about writing to her. Finally he decided to do it, a short note about where he was. He thought of saying that it was a pleasure to meet her, but since they had spent the night together it sounded much too formal. On the other hand he didn't want to say "Thanks for a good time." That sounded too much like those notes you see scribbled on phone booth walls sometimes "For a good time call Della." He decided on a short friendly note "Hi Della, I'm in Dalhart, Texas heading west. It's been a fascinating trip so far. Brian" that's all. He stamped the post cards, put them in a mail box and walked on.

Brian was now walking down a road marked Rte. 54 toward New Mexico. He saw no more cliffs harboring cougars for which he was glad. The scenery around him was changing as he went. There were fewer buildings and the land was beginning to look more like a quiet desert. There were new things to look at, interesting rock formations in the distance lit up with an amber fluorescence by the blazing sun, things growing solitary in the sandy soil he had never seen before, a dusty aroma.

After a while the silence was broken by the sound of twanging country music coming from some distance behind him. It got louder and a car pulled over with pictures of lightening painted on the sides, some sort of animal tail on the antenna and a confederate flag decal on the window. The driver turned the radio down and shouted out the window "You ever been to Tucumcari?"

"No" said Brian.

"Well, that's where Ah'm goin'. Git in."

Brian got in. The driver was wearing a cowboy hat and a big smile. "Where you from?" he asked.

"I started out in Boston, Massachusetts."

"Well dog me, you done some travellin'. Hitched all the way?"


"Damn! You like country music?"

"I like all kinds of music."

"Hot damn!" He turned the radio back up full blast and that was the end of all conversation until they got to Tucumcari. When they got there he turned the radio down and said "Here's where Ah haul up. I gotta see muh girl. Good luck."

"Thanks" said Brian. He got out and the cowboy turned a corner. Brian noticed as he drove off that his license plate read SKUNK U.

Almost immediately another car stopped for him. In it was a middle aged man. He wanted to know where Brian was headed and said he would take him as far as Kingman.

Brian asked where that was and the man said western Arizona. This was to be the third of Brian's four long rides. The man introduced himself as a Louisiana state trooper on vacation and on his way to visit his daughter who was in college in Las Vegas.

The trooper was a talkative fellow who kept up a constant stream of conversation about human behavior. He was a moral philosopher Brian determined. There was nothing the man said that Brian could disagree with. It wasn't about politics or religion but a straight forward down the line utterance of common sense about standards and values. Now and then the man would ask Brian if he agreed, which he did, Brian didn't have much to offer otherwise.

While the man talked Brian stared out the window at the scenes going by. He felt as if he was on another planet. The giant rock formations, the shrubbery along the road and now and then a small white cross beside it. The colors were the most amazing thing for him. Everything was yellow, amber, orange, rust, red. There was a grand and formidable mystery about the land. It made him think of some of the paintings he had seen in museums back east. But none of them could catch the invisible spirits that seemed to proudly stand tall on this land. There were views and visions Brian would never forget. He tucked them away in the same memory box that held the experience of crossing the Mississippi River at dawn.

As the afternoon sun was lowering the same colors took on a bluish tinge and the shadows spread across the desert like a quickly growing moss. Then as a curve in the road changed his perspective he was startled to see the frame and lights of a huge power station in the middle of nowhere, rising up out of the desert with nothing around it like some mammoth work of surrealist art.

"Wow!" said Brian.

"That means we'll soon be in Albuquerque" said the trooper.

As they drove into Albuquerque Brian guessed it was a major stopping point for people traveling west. There seemed to be motels everywhere along the road. And many of them were designed to look like life in the Southwest. The units were miniature haciendas, pueblos and even one that was all tepees. They had names to match.

The driver who by now, was known as Allen, pulled into the parking lot of a diner. As it was dinner time Brian was hungry. They sat at the counter. Brian ordered a hamburger which he ate even though it was the worst hamburger he ever had, tough and tasteless. That puzzled him. Here he was in beef country. Why couldn't he get a good burger? The banana cream pie he had after it wasn't much better. Go to Oklahoma for banana cream pie, he thought. And New York for a good burger. Was Brian getting homesick. Not yet.

After a drive around town Allen drove into the lot of a motel that had no special designs. A simple place with the units in a row on a porch. Allen explained to the motel clerk that Brian would be sleeping in the back of the car and not to disturb him. And that's where Brian spent the night.


To be continued.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Brian On The Road 11

November 12. 1960

Brian woke after a good solid night's sleep. The first one he had taken on a real mattress in many days. He felt refreshed and ready to move on. Ha ascended the caller stairs into the kitchen. No one was there so he went out the door into the driveway. The car was still there. He dug into his back pack, took out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote a thank you note saying that he had slept well. He tucked it behind the wiper and went down the driveway to the road. When he crossed the road he met Ben.

Ben was around 50 years old. He wore frayed trousers of what had once been suit pants, a brown shirt and a broad rimmed hat. He greeted Brian in a friendly manner and said it was a good day to travel. So they started out.

Ben never asked Brian where he was going or where he had come from. But Brian was curious about Ben so he asked him a few questions being careful not to step on areas of history Ben didn't want to discuss. Ben came from Idaho and had been on the road for about 20 years, he guessed, tried to stay south in the winter, didn't go back to Idaho if he could help it. How does he get by? Holding out a tin cup from his pocket he shook it and put it back. He said also that if he was really desperate he could get himself pulled in for vagrancy and sleep in a cell. Did he have any family? A sister in Arkansas. She took him in when he passed that way.

Ben definitely had the look of the road in his eyes but he was remarkably clean and intelligent for a hobo Brian thought. Gradually it came out that Ben graduated from the University of Oregon as a philosophy major, had left a wife back in Idaho who was probably happy to see him go and had been on the road ever since.

As they were walking through Pratt a dog started barking at them. Ben said "Let;s pick it up. If there's one thing I hate it's a barking. snarling dog."

Brian asked if Ben had ever been in the service. "Sure. After I got out of school I joined the Navy. Spent two years. Couldn't wait to get out. The officers were all stupid. Most of them."

After about an hour of walking, as they were reaching the edge of town, Brian's feet were very painful and he realized that he hadn't had his boots off of his feet since the night he spent with Margie and Mary Lou in Cleveland. He told Ben he had to rest his feet a few minutes, sat down on the grass just off the road and removed his boots. It felt very good.

"I hope your feet don't swell up. You won't be able to get your boots back on if they do."

But there wasn't time for that to happen. A few minutes later a car stopped for them. It was an old Chevy. The driver was a surly man wearing a construction hat. Ben got in the front seat, Brian behind him. The driver wasted no time on introductions but started right off. He soon said "I have some meat in the back. We'll stop up ahead and cook it." During a voyage of several hours he said that over again a few times. Brian got the impression that he had no intention of doing that or even if there was any meat in the trunk. And though he stopped to pick them up he seemed to be in a great hurry to get someplace.

When they came near to Liberal Ben said he would get out there, so the driver pulled over without a word and stopped. Ben got out followed by Brian. Brian said "Thank you." The driver didn't answer but drove off.

Ben said "I didn't trust that meat in the back. You never know what it is or how old it is."

"Ah" said Brian. He was learning the ways of the road.

They walked a few miles into Liberal and it was now late afternoon. Ben said he was going to stay there, but Brian felt like moving on so they parted.

Brian walked through Liberal. It was dark when he reached the other side but there were street lights on. So he stood under one of them with his hand out and fairly soon another truck pulled over. The driver asked Brian where he was going. Brian sad he was trying to get to California. The driver said "I;ll take you to Guymon." Brian thought he said "Diamond." But he was used to hearing strange words and strange names so he said "Great."

After a while the driver pulled over and said "This is where I turn off. Good luck."

Brian thanked him, jumped out of the truck and found himself on the edge of Guymon, Oklahoma. He saw a diner, went in and took a seat at the counter. A quite overweight young woman named Teena came over to take his order which was franks and beans and a piece of banana cream pie. Brian was delighted to find that the pie was excellent. He thought, I'll have to remember that the best banana cream pie I had was in Oklahoma.

He finished his meal and walk through the town which didn't take long. He found a restaurant open at the other end, went in and took a table. There were only a few other customers. He really didn't feel like eating anything but he was there to angle for a sleeping place so he ordered a roll and some coffee.

He was about to ask the waitress if she knew of any place he could spend the night when he heard the sound of vehicles arriving, car doors slamming, the door burst open and more than a score of teenagers came in with a great noise and bustle and filled up the other tables. The waitress went around and took their orders which were almost immediately filled. The kids gobbled up the food in less that a half an hour and left as fast as they came. It was like a tribe of youngsters galloping through. Cowboys and their girl friends. Pick up trucks instead of horses.

When the waitress come over to Brian to clear the dishes and leave a check Brian asked her what that was all about. She said "Drive-in movie just let out." Then she said "We're closing up now." Brian thought, Of course, this is small town Oklahoma. No Hayes-Bicks here." Then he asked if she knew of any place he could sleep, but she didn't.

Brian left the restaurant and walked a bit around a completely dark town. Even the restaurant lights went out in a few minutes. Brian was now on the edge of the great Wild West, cowboys and horses, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, cattle rustlers, gun fighters, saloons, six shooters and branding irons. This was the land where lynch mobs took justice into their own hands and where the rule of law was enforced by a sheriff and his posse. This was the land where the bad guys were all red skins and bank robbers and where the good guys all played the guitar and sang. Here was the land of chuck wagons, round ups and stampedes. There was a strong Mexican influence here so that people lived in haciendas, did things pronto, wore sombreros and were plum loco.

Brian was still learning his history from the movies, but he was about to visit the real West. First though he had to find a place to sleep. There was nothing moving in the town of Guymon but Brian. Then he turned up a side street and saw a police car coming slowly toward him. When the car stopped near him Brian walked around to the open window and said into the face of an unsmiling cop "I'm hitching to California and I was just looking for a place to sleep."

The policeman motioned to the seat next to him and said "Get in. There's an empty cell. You can sleep there." Brian didn't know if he was being arrested or not but he got into the car and a few blocks away they stopped at a new brick building which was a combination police station and fire house. Brian was ushered in the door and the cop explained to another one at a desk why he was there. The other one nodded. There were two cells and another cop was asleep in one of them. So Brian went into the empty cell and stretched out an a comfortable bed. The first cop closed the door but didn't lock it.

Well, Brian thought, since I wasn't booked for anything I guess I wasn't arrested. He quickly fell asleep and that was the first and only time Brian ever spent a jail.


To be continued.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Brian On The Road 10

November 11, 1960

At Topeka Zack turned the truck onto another highway, this one going southwest. As the sun was coming up Brian was astonished to see how flat the land was. The landscape was broken only by occasional farm houses with barns and silos. Now and then there was a store or business along the road, mainly catering to farmers. There were a few truck stops, but very few. Mainly it was just open fields and crops growing. And flat. Relentlessly flat. Brian thought of Dorothy and Toto being swept up by a tornado and whisked off to Oz.

Daylight was happening as they came into Wichita. Zack drove into a truck stop on the edge of the city and said "Well, Brian, this is where I turn off. Let's have one more breakfast and then you're on your own."

Over breakfast Zack wrote out his address. "Here, write me when you get settled. I might even answer."

"Thanks, and thanks for the ride. It was a good long one, I appreciate it."

"No problem. You still got a long way to go to get to California. You're in the plains now. You'll probably do okay. These folks are friendly."

After breakfast Zack got into his truck and, without another word, drove off. Brian stood looking down the main road into Wichita. Once again on his own.

Brian looked down the long straight road into Wichita. He thought he would probably have to walk through the city but almost immediately a car stopped. When he opened the door he saw an older woman. He calculated she was about 60 yeas old or so. He noticed immediately that she was wearing a long colorful skirt with brown leather boots. She had several scarves and chains of beads around her neck and a large hoop earring. "Hello" she said. Brian got in her car and sat, He could see there were strange looking objects hanging from the rear view mirror.

"Your name begins with a 'B' doesn't it?"

Brian was startled. "Yes. Brian."

"Ah." She smiled and started driving. "And you come from a place starting with 'B.'

"Boston. How do you know?"

"I'm a psychic."

"Oh" said Brian, slightly suspicious, but curious.

"You're going a long way. I see an ocean."


"You're going to make movies."

"I hope so."

"You are. You will have sorrow and danger, great danger, but you will be successful."

"I hope so."

"You will. The girl you are in love with is not for you."

"I'm not in love with anybody."

"No, but you will be. Sadly."

They drove in silence for a long while as she carefully made it through the city. Then she said "You will know many interesting people. You will be loved by some. Beware of false friends."

She pulled the car over to the side of the road and said "This is the edge of the city. The road west is right in front of you. May the Spirit go with you. You will be a big success, Brian. Remember, Mother Linda told you." She smiled.

Brian said "Thank you" got out of the car and closed the door. Mother Linda turned onto a side road. Brian stood watching her car disappear in the distance. He said "Thank you Mother Linda, whoever you are." Then he thought: Linda, Glinda. She sort of looked like Billie Burke. Maybe she's the Good Witch of the North. Maybe I am in the land of Oz, after all.

He smiled and turned west.

It was a bright, warm day and Brian felt good, so he started walking. There wasn't much traffic on the road but when he heard a vehicle approaching he turned and stuck out his hand. No one stopped. Perhaps these Munchkins aren't as friendly as Zack thought they would be.

As he moved along the highway Brian was struck again by how flat and level everything was. He was used to the hills and valleys of the Northeast. Brian had heard about the Great Plains but seeing it was a new experience for him. This wasn't just an easily described geologic formation. It was a different place in the world, with a character all its own: vast, empty, lonely, revealing a breath taking expanse of sky. Brian walked.

On both sides of the road there were fields, Now and then unpaved roads would abruptly turn off the highway and in the distance he could make out the silos and other buildings of a distant farm. And he walked.

Even though no one was stopping for him the area wasn't devoid of life. Some of the fields were grazing ground for cattle. Cows lined up at the fences and watched him. He must be the most interesting thing they've seen in a month, Brian thought. For miles there were cows, silent watchers, guardians of the field, chroniclers of his journey through their kingdom, approving of every step. And so he walked.

For hours Brian walked, through a relentlessly unchanging landscape. No one was stopping for him. As the afternoon wore on and evening approached, the sun fell gracefully into its decline right in front of him. As it set it grew huge and orange. It hovered at the edge of the highway as if it was a benign golden doorway waiting for him to enter. Then it set. The light went out. The darkness of night came in an instant. And he walked.

Although thee was no moon the broad sky was filled with stars. He had never seen so many stars. Each one, large and small, shone with importance, They were bright and brazen. Brian held back his head until all he could see were stars, until he was with them, until he was one of them, shining with them, a part of the universe.

Brian walked on for many hours. The traffic had dwindled down to almost nothing. It was getting cold. The chill November night was setting in and Brian's feet hurt. He reasoned that he had not fully recovered from his rain soaked trek through Ohio. His boots and socks were dry now but the pain in his feet told him they needed to rest. There was no curb or fence between the highway and the grass next to it. So he stepped off the highway and began walking on the smooth ground, which was nicer, until something vibrated very fierce and fast under his foot. He stepped immediately back onto the hard highway and decided not to try doing that again.

After many hours he came upon a small shopping center. The only thing open was a diner. So he went in and had a burger and coffee and, of course, a piece of banana cream pie. After affirming that there were no sleeping arrangements available he went back out to the exit area.

One car was parked near the exit and when a man came out to get into it Brian asked him if he was going west by any chance. The man said "No, I'm sorry. I live here. But good luck."

"Thank you" said Brian. He waited hoping to find another driver to take him along.

After a few moments the man came back, drove into the parking lot, turned and pulled up next to Brian. "Say Fellow, I have some new mattresses in my basement. If you would like you can sleep on one of them."

"I sure would. Thank you." He got into the car. It was the first of two times a driver would turn around and came back for him. The second time was an amazing story.


To be continued.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Brian On Te Road 9

November 10, 1960

Brian became aware of someone shaking his foot. He looked down and saw Zack outside the door of the cab waking him. “Let’s go get some breakfast. I need to get going.”

he realized that his wallet was missing.

It took him a few moments to get his mind focused on what was happening. He sat back on the seat, looked over at the Big Wheel’s bar which was closed. The sky was still dark. He tried to figure things out. He brought back the events of the night before. He remembered the beer and pizza, Norma the waitress and Sabrina. He guessed someone must have picked his pocket, or else he dropped it on the floor. Either way, he was stuck in the middle of nowhere without any money or identification.

“Zack, I’ve got a problem.”


“I don’t have my wallet. I must have left it in there, or else that girl picked my pocket. What’ll I do?”

“Nobody picked your pocket.”

“But I don’t have it.”

“Mr. Big would never allow for pick pockets. Sabrina’s a regular there and truckers keep coming back. Besides Mr. Big’s punishments can be notoriously nasty.”

“Then I must have left it in there and I’ll have to stay until it opens.”

“Come out here.” Brian jumped carefully down off the truck seat. Zack climbed up and opened a compartment on the dashboard of the truck, took out a flashlight and shined it on the floor. Then he leaned down and poked it under the seat. He reached in and pulled out a black leather wallet. “Is this it?”

“Yes!” Brian heaved a big sigh of relief and held out his hand.

“Are you sure?”


“Maybe it’s someone else’s wallet.”

“No, it’s mine.”

“Maybe we should ask around.”

“No need. It’s mine.”

“Can you identify it?”

“Yes, it’s black and it has my name in it.”

Zack opened it. “Are you Brian Sims?”


“Are you sure you’re Brian Sims?”


“I don’t know. You were pretty drunk last night. You might have forgotten who you are.”

“No I remember. I’m the only Brian Sims around.”

“Well then, this must be yours. Do you think?”

“I do.”

“Well, here then.” Zack gave him his wallet and said “Now, don’t go throwing your wallet around, you never know who’s going to pick it up.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

Zack smiled, turned and headed for a coffee shop a few stores away. Brian followed, light headed with hunger and relief. He celebrated with a slice of banana cream pie.

After breakfast they headed west. The sky was just beginning to get light when Brian saw the first signs to Saint Louis. Zack kept up a good pace but the traffic gradually began to get heavy as they approached the city. It was almost sunrise as they moved slowly but certainly through the traffic that was coming from several sides. Zack had to stop occasionally to let another truck enter his lane, but the lane kept moving. Brain couldn’t explain what he felt or why but there was a breathless anticipation in him, something about traveling to a new place in the world or leaving an old one. Or was it perhaps leaving the easy hominess of the Midwest and going into unknown lands? Soon the feeling in his gut turned into an explosion of beauty and grandeur he never expected to see.

In a moment Zack moved the truck onto Eads Bridge and they were crossing the amazing Mississippi River at dawn. Brian gasped at the sight of it. It was at the place where the Missouri River joined up and everything Brian saw was gold. It looked like a giant lake. In the morning light the water was liquid gold. High above it, from the window of the truck, he was flying over it like an eagle soaring through the sky. The air around him was filled with expectations. The distant shore was barely visible and beyond it he could still see remnants of the night sky.

Far below him the boats like insects skimming slowly and gracefully along the surface were weaving tiny threads of sparkling white into the golden lava. Brian knew rivers. He knew the Charles River, The Connecticut River, the mighty Hudson River and the gentle, modest streams of home. But he never imagined a sight like the shimmering, grand, magical beauty that stretched out below him. When they reached the top of the span he felt they could ascend forever from that spectacle like a rocket ship into strange worlds.

But soon the truck began to descend, The gold of the river was beginning to meld with the blue of the sky and the morning sun was setting on fire the windows of Saint Louis. They came down into the city leaving behind a vision Brian would never forget,

Zack easily skirted the city, got back on Route 70 and picked up speed. So Brian, with the gasp still in his heart, was again on the road and heading west, into the unknown.

As they came out of Saint Louis the traffic fanned out in all directions and Zack got a good grip on the highway going west. This was a straight highway now, like a line drawn right across the middle of Missouri. This was not a road for tourists. Not a route to stop and see the sights along the way. It was a relentless race to the west, probably set down originally by the land grabbing buck boards and covered wagons of settlers from the last century.

Just past Columbia Zack slowed down and kept to the extreme right. Brian's curiosity was soon answered when Zack said "There's a detour up ahead. It's not well marked. The left lanes get all bogged down if drivers don't know about it." Sure enough, Brian saw that they were in a line of trucks, none in the center lanes. And soon the traffic was slowing down and then backing up as drivers tried to get to the right. Zack successfully moved his truck into the exit ramp behind a big moving van and they kept going.

A moving van, thought Brian, how appropriate. I wonder how far west it's going. Maybe I'll meet up with it in California.

With a line of trucks moving back on to the highway after the detour what few cars yet with them were very glad to get back into the left lanes and avoid them.

Brian was reflecting on California and wondering what Bob's parents were like and what his life was going to be in California. But this was Missouri and he was about to get his first taste of being in the South.

Brian and Zack made good time across Missouri toward the Kansas border, but it was getting late. Zack said they should stop for a late lunch near Kansas City and spend the night there. At about 5 Zack pulled the truck into a parking space next to a restaurant called "Country Cousin." They went inside where they were met by a young man wearing a western string tie over a blue shirt. "Howdy" he said, took them to a table and handed them menus. Country Cousin looked like it had once been a barn but it was a very attractive decor, Brian thought. There were posts around the room with photographs on them. Some of them were near where Brian was and he could see they were pictures of people, some with guitars and some groups. The pictures were autographed. In the corner Brian saw what looked like a small bandstand. There was an upright piano on it.

"They have entertainment here" Brian said.

"At night, on the weekends" said Zack. "It's place where the local country singers come, sing their songs and pick up a few bucks. Some of them have gone on to bigger things. It's a starting place."

"How's the food?"


A pretty young waitress who never smiled came over to take their order. Brian ordered a steak and the girl said something which sounded to Brian exactly like "Super Jews?" He looked up quizzically and she said "Y'all wan soup er juice?"

"What's the soup?" he asked.

"Chin noo" she said.

Brian interpreted that to mean chicken noodle and said "I'll have that."

A moment later another girl came over with a tray of glasses containing more ice than water and set them down. "How y'all doon naht?" she said.

"We're doing just fine, thank you" said Zack. Brian was glad to have Zack along to interpret. The girl went off to another table and in a moment the waitress came with the soup. He was right. It was chicken noodle and it was very good.

When Brian's sizzling steak arrived it was on a plate with some sort of tasty greens and some strange soupy looking stuff. Brian looked at the plate.

"Grits" said Zack.

"Oh" said Brian. "She didn't ask me if I wanted grits."

"Well, this isn't the deep south but in most places you don't have a choice. It comes with the meal, like ice water does."

The waitress had brought a small pot with crushed ice and some slabs of butter. Zack took one and plopped it onto his grits, so Brian did the same.

The meal was excellent, just as Zack had predicted. Brian topped it off with a slice of banana cream pie. As they were leaving there was a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen. When they passed by the waitress Brian said "Smells good. What's cooking?"

"Pays O'Gran" she said.

"Oh" he said, as if he understood.

As they left the young cowboy at the door said "Y'all come back."

Once outside Brian said "All right. What did she say? Pays O'Gran. What's that?"

"Potatoes Au Gratin" said Zack with a grin, as if it was obvious.

Once they got back to the truck Zack said "I've changed my mind. I think I want to drive all night. You up for it?"

"Sure. If you are."

"Let's do it."

Zack eased the truck back onto the highway, There was a lot of traffic coming from the other direction, rush hour from some place Brian guessed. As night fell the traffic lessened up and except far trucks there was very little of it and so the night went by. They crossed the line into Kansas in the dark and headed for Topeka.


To be continued.