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JayLee recently started a discussion about travel over in the Forum. "Hit The Road".

It reminded me of some of my travels in the past. Probably wouldn't fit in the "Hit the Road Thread", so I'll put it here.

When I was in High School and College, there was a drive in, in my home town Named Smiley's Drive in. It was on a corner located at the town's major innersection.

Smiley was part of the local color. He had served time in "Moundsville" (The State Prison) for bootlegging.

He was a large dour faced man when he wasn't smiling. Which was most of the time. The drivein had a fair size dining room where he used to hold court. Actually he was an enigma. Made up af contradictions.

Usually very friendly, would even set and talk with us kids. But there were often shady looking characters meeting with him and he usually handled any fights or other disturbances, as is often a part of any popular local hangout.

Since he was an ex con he could not own a place that served booze, but in WV in those days you could buy and consume 3.2 beer if you were 18 or older. And there were always wineo's hanging around the liquor store, across the river in the next town, who would buy a bottle of whatever you wanted for a little extra. So

the drive in was a lively place on Saturday nights and after football games.

 It was always a rumor that Smiley was deep into all the rackets in the area. And I believe it to be true. This was in the period 1952-1959.

In Jan 1959 I was back from my little stint in the Urainium Boom out west and couldn't find a job, so I went into the army.

After Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, SC and Basic Electronics training at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, I was assigned to Nuclear Weapons Training at Sandia Base in Albuquerque, NM.

I boarded a Pan Am Tri-Tail Constellation at the Charleston West Virgina Airport and headed off to New Mexico.

It was my first flight on a commercial airline.

I arrived at Albuquerque on Sunday afternoon. I did not have to report for duty until Monday.

Having signed in early at the last assignment and ending up on KP until my school started, this time I knew better. So I went to the YMCA to get a room.

It was full. But the attendent said that there was a hotel across the street that he thought had rooms and that they were not expensive.

I walked up the dimly lit stairs to the hotel desk. The attendent , who needed a shave, said yes he did have a room available but he needed me to fill out a sheet with name address, etc. I didn't ask why, just did as told. I was a Pvt. in the Army after all.

He looked at the information I had entered, looked up and said; Do you know John Smiley?

This was over 1000 miles from St. Albans, WV and Smiley's Drive In.

Turns out that he had been in the Moundsville Prison with John.

You never know what is around the next bend when traveling in unfamiliar places.  

Views: 32

Tags: intrigue, suprise, travel

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Comment by Snagg on March 17, 2012 at 6:22pm

When I was 14, I rode along with my Mom and her brother and sister-in-law to Bpoulder, Co. to see some relatives.

In the middle of Kansas, around 500 hundred miles from home, we all decided we were hungry and took the first off-ramp we saw. Drove past three or four fast-food joints until, we spotted a diner and pulled in.

We ordered our food, ate, and then Mom and the cousins wandered through the touristy part of the diner. I decided to flirt with the waitress, who humored me and sat down to chat. I figured I'd impress her with my artistic skills, so I drew a fast couple of cartoons.

She picked them up, looked at them, looked at me for a long second, and then asked if I had a brother named Steve. Stunned, I replied ,"yes, I do."

Then she told that my brother, who spent a lot of the 70's hitch-hiking back and forth across the country, had stopped in that same diner a few years earlier and had shown her some of my cartoons that he carried with him in his backpack, and she'd recognized my style, such as it was.

I'd like a smart person to calculate the odds on that one.

Comment by Stir Young on February 15, 2012 at 4:36pm

Glad you're writing again, Robbie!  This was one of life's stories worth telling (and reading).

Comment by Slim on February 9, 2012 at 8:09pm

I love running into ex-cons and discovering we have friends in common.

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