Several years ago we were hanging out at the Escapees Rainbows End RV park in Livingston, Texas when I met a fellow who told me they were hanging up the keys after just one year of fulltiming. I asked why, and he said, “Because we’ve seen everything there is to see and we’re burned out and tired of it.”
He told us they had seen the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Mexican border, and had even been to Alaska. They left Seattle on June 1st and were back July 4th. “We never saw any animals the whole trip,” he said, “all we did was tear up our motorhome. It was a waste of time and money.” Well, yeah, if you’re driving 60 miles an hour I guess you would!
He had seen it all and done it all in just one year? How could that possibly be? I couldn’t see all of New Jersey in a year! I couldn’t do it all in a lifetime!
Everywhere you look, in every corner of America, there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. All you have to do is look for them.
For those unfamiliar with Ernie Pyle, he paved the way for folks like Charles Kuralt and other roving reporters to follow. In 1935, Pyle left his job as managing editor of a Washington, D.C. newspaper and spent the next seven years traveling America, writing about the folks he met in small towns and big cities. His folksy style made him a household name and he was loved by the millions who read his syndicated columns from coast to coast.
For the first two years, Pyle and his wife Geraldine, better known as Jerry, traveled together. But unfortunately, Jerry battled depression and substance abuse and she left the road to live in their house in Albuquerque. Pyle would make periodic visits, but it was not a happy home by any means. A heavy drinker himself, he preferred being alone on the road, and when he did visit Jerry, they frequently had terrible arguments. Twice Jerry attempted suicide in the house.
When World War II broke out, Pyle became a war correspondent, and on April 18, 1945 he was killed by a Japanese sniper on the island of Ie Shima, near Okinawa, while traveling with the 77th Infantry Division. My father was with the 77th at that time, though he was in a foxhole several miles away when Pyle was killed. Somewhere I have a picture Dad took of the small monument the unit erected to honor Pyle.
Within a few months, Jerry Pyle had also died. Hopefully, they found the peace in death that had eluded them in life.
Today the small wood frame house at 900 Girard Boulevard, the only home Ernie Pyle ever owned, is a library. Used mostly by neighborhood residents, the library has a small display case that holds Pyle’s typewriter, a newspaper announcing his death, and other small items from his war correspondent days. Under a glass top on a table in one room are several letters and other pieces of correspondence to and from Ernie Pyle.
The little library is nothing earth shattering, but it’s one more piece of America waiting to be discovered. It took us nearly fifteen years of fulltiming to get to it. Imagine what we would have missed if we had quit after just one year.
Thought For The Day – Some people’s minds are like cement; all mixed up and permanently set.