Nick’s Blog

Walter

 Posted by at 12:06 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 202021
 

In a blog post titled Speeding last week I wrote that when I was stationed at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York during my Army days, my parents lived in Toledo, Ohio, and at least once a month during our slow time when we were not training cadets, I would jump in my car on Friday afternoon, drive 575 miles to Toledo, hang out all weekend, then drive back Sunday night, arriving in time to go on duty Monday morning. That brought back a couple of memories, and I thought I would share one with you today.

When I was a teenager and young adult, back in the 1960s and 70s, hitchhiking was commonplace and nobody gave it much thought. If you wanted to get across town or across the country, all you had to do was stick out your thumb, and sooner or later somebody would come along and give you a ride. I actually hitchhiked from West Point to Toledo and back a couple of times myself before I bought a car. And I always gave hitchhikers a ride, especially those in uniform.

One snowy winter night I was heading east across Pennsylvania, back to the base, when my headlights picked up the shape of somebody walking along the shoulder of Interstate 80. He wasn’t hitchhiking, but as I passed I slowed down because it was a long ways from anywhere and it was cold out there. I asked the elderly African American gentleman if he wanted a ride, and he said he didn’t want to trouble me, but he sure would appreciate it if I didn’t mind. I told him to get in, and he introduced himself as Walter. I asked him where he was going, and he said to New York City, which was at least 300 miles away.

Walter was shivering, so I turned the heat up high and asked him why he was out on the highway in such bad weather. He told me that his son had put him in a nursing home in Cleveland, and he hated it there and they didn’t treat him right, so he ran away. He told me he was going to his daughter’s house in New York because he knew that she would take care of him. I asked why he didn’t go to his son’s house, and he said his daughter-in-law didn’t much care for him, and he didn’t like her much either.

This was before the days of cell phones and I probably should have found someplace to stop and call the authorities, but I felt sorry for Walter as he told me about how his wife and he had been married for over 60 years before she died, and how lonely he was in that nursing home where nobody ever came to visit him. I told him New York City was a big place and asked if he knew where his daughter lived there, and he pulled out an envelope with her address on it. Then he offered to share an apple with me, the only thing he had to eat.

Normally I would get off the interstate at Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and take US Highway 209 north through the Delaware Water Gap and into New York, which put me a short distance from West Point. It was longer to go all the way to New York City and then another 50 miles or so to West Point, but I sure couldn’t leave Walter out there on that highway all by himself. And he made it plain he’d rather die than go back to that nursing home, so we went to the Big Apple.

By the time we got to New York I had become quite fond of the old gentleman as he told me stories about growing up in Mississippi during the bad days as he called them, and how as a young man he and his new bride had come north, where he got a job working at a factory in Cleveland. Walter said he had tried to join the Army during World War II, but by then he was in his 40s and had a family so they turned him down. He had lost a son in Korea, and another baby had died when it was tiny, but he had a son and daughter who were doing good for themselves, even if the son had stuck him in that darned old nursing home and never came by to visit.

It was the wee hours of the morning when we found his daughter’s home, and Walter was sleeping in the passenger seat of my Mustang. I rang the bell, not sure how those folks would react to a strange young white man knocking on their door while the rest of the world was asleep. But when I told them who I was and who I had with me, they were overjoyed. Apparently, Walter had been missing for two days and they were frantic. We got him inside and then I had to leave because if I didn’t, I was going to be late for formation that morning. But they took my name and address, and his daughter promised me that Walter would not be going back to any nursing home.

A few weeks later, I was in the barracks doing some paperwork when one of my men came in and said, “Sarge, there’s somebody here to see you,” and it was Walter, along with his daughter and son-in-law and three grandchildren. They thanked me for taking care of him and insisted on taking me to dinner. We had a nice visit, and a couple of times after that, I would go down to New York City and stop and pay my respects to Walter and his family. A year or so later I got a letter from his daughter telling me that Walter had passed away in his sleep, surrounded by family instead of strangers in some darned nursing home. Rest in peace, my friend.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about another encounter with a hitchhiker that didn’t turn out as planned.

Thought For The Day – Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle. ― Benjamin Franklin

Oct 192021
 

Yesterday was a researching and writing day for me. I got a couple of e-mails back from the Toledo History Museum and the Toledo Police Museum with some links and information about some things I needed for my next Tinder Street book. This means I can probably start working on it once I finish my […]

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 Posted by at 12:28 am  Nick's Blog
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Note: This is a blog from five years ago today when we announced a major change in our lifestyle. At that time we thought we would continue to travel in our motorhome part of the year, but as it turned out that didn’t happen for a variety of reasons, among them problems with the RV […]

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 Posted by at 12:09 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 162021
 

Thank you to everybody who sent me e-mails, text messages, and left comments on Facebook wishing me a happy birthday. There were way too many for me to possibly answer individually, but please know that I read each one and cherish them, and I cherish all of you. Now, if someone could just tell me […]

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We woke up to a surprise yesterday morning, an unexpected deposit from Social Security into our checking account for a rather large sum of money. I usually get my Social Security direct deposited on the third Wednesday of the month, and Terry’s comes in on the fourth. Yesterday was only the second Wednesday of the […]

Speeding

 Posted by at 12:47 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 132021
 

We know it’s wrong, but we’ve all done it at one time or another. Most of us probably do it fairly often to some extent. Pushed that gas pedal a little too hard and broken the speed limit. Maybe out on the open highway in the middle of nowhere, and hopefully not in a school […]

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Yesterday was a writing day for me, after being away from it for several days. I started the day answering e-mails, then checking some details online for my newest Big Lake book, then I wrote about 6,000 words. That puts me at about 14,000 words since I started it on September 30th. That’s slow progress […]

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 Posted by at 12:06 am  Nick's Blog
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As I’ve shared here before, back in June I ordered a new 2022 Ram Laramie pickup. At the time, I was promised a delivery date from late July to sometime in mid-August. Of course the chip shortage and shortages of other materials put that way behind schedule, which is no fault of the dealership, and […]

Playing Catch Up

 Posted by at 1:20 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 102021
 

The last few days have been very hectic, and I’ve been trying to play catch up and not succeeding all that well. But I’ll try to bring you up to date. We went out to dinner with friends Thursday evening at a place called Riptide’s here in Edgewater. It’s always been very popular, but to […]

Fog, Weed, And Rain

 Posted by at 12:21 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 092021
 

Note: Yesterday was a very long, very busy day and I am just too worn out to write, so here is a blog from our RV  travels down Interstate 5 from Oregon to California in 2015. It was a long day on the road for us, 262 miles, from Sutherlin, Oregon to Redding, California. We’ve […]

Some Quick Q&A

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 082021
 

It’s late and I have to be up early, so all you’re going to get today are some quick questions and answers that have come in recently. Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be able to have a longer blog for you. Q. My wife wants an ebook reader for her birthday in November. Since you are my […]

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As I said in yesterday’s blog, before we can proceed with our carport project, we have to have a survey done of our property. Here in Volusia County, Florida, in an area zoned residential like ours, you can only have 35% of your property covered with structure. Looking at aerial views of our lot, it […]

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 Posted by at 12:09 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 062021
 

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 Posted by at 12:13 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 052021
 

Note: It’s that time of year and it won’t be long before people are posting pictures of the Fall colors wherever they are. I thought I’d get a head start with a repost of a 2011 blog from our travels as fulltime RVers. We left Walnut Meadow campground in Berea, Kentucky a little after 9 […]

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Housed in the original 1909 Firehouse Number 1 on the edge of downtown, the excellent Denver Firefighters Museum tells the story of more than 150 years of firefighting in the Mile High City, from before the Denver Fire Department was formed in 1866, to the present. Here visitors will find two floors of historical artifacts, […]

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Oct 022021
 

In yesterday’s blog, I told you about a flake who showed up in response to a request I posted online for a licensed contractor to build a carport at our place. This clown didn’t have a tape measure with him, or a pen or pencil, or a piece of paper, and then wanted to know […]