Somewhere In Maryland
Memorial Day ’77
Biking started out good, but soon the clouds rolled in, the winds
picked up, and the temperature dropped. By late afternoon, I was
straining at 80% output to make 20% distance, so I pulled into a
schoolyard. Tired, cold, and exhausted, I went behind the main
building and set up my tent in-between two outbuildings. That got me
out of the wind. I also felt safe there. After eating a bologna
sandwich, somewhere in Maryland, under cloudy, cold skies, I began to
feel a little bit better. It hadn’t started to rain yet, but I was
sure it would. I was close enough to the parked school busses, so that
if it rained hard, I could probably find shelter there, provided the
doors were unlocked. My hope of finding a campsite where I could lay
over for a day in order to miss the holiday traffic was pretty much
dashed. I was not in the best of moods when I heard voices outside my
Eric and Ben had come to investigate. Both boys appeared to be just
under ten years old. They were eager to hear my story. Ben must have
been especially impressed because he returned after 6 p.m. and invited
me over to his parent’s bar-b-q dinner. I wasn’t hungry, though. When
the boys left, I opened a can of cold spaghetti and ate the whole
thing, and that was on top of the sandwich I had earlier, but I didn’t
have the heart to turn the kid down.
It was a large black family gathering. After I introduced myself to
Ben’s father, his mother handed me a plate heaped full of hot food.
There was steak, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn, potatoes, and
grits. (She left the grits off the plate. She probably figured the
white northern boy wasn’t ready for the grits and she was probably
right.) There I was, in front of all that delicious hot food with my
stomach full of spaghetti. I did manage to eat the ribs, (but silently
I hated myself for not being hungry). I could only manage a bite or
two of everything else.
That was the most southern hospitality I had ever experienced and it
was very much appreciated. When I went back to my tent I was very
uncomfortable. Fortunately, I didn’t have to lie down right away
because I had become a celebrity among the kids in the neighborhood.
Ben’s friends all came over to see the tent-guy on the bicycle. That
gave my stomach a little more time to digest before I hit my sleeping
bag. Thanks Ben!