Category Archive for: ‘Road Trip 2010’
“My dog died.”
Those are three of the saddest words I know. I have been right in the middle of them for four days and counting.
Last Thursday afternoon, break time: Yay! Dodger and I left my office at 3:36 to go check the mail, but first a quick round of campus “squirrelveillance,” par for a Thursday. I clicked on his trusty red leash and hopped on my trusty red bike, just like hundreds of times. Across Main Street, we rounded the corner of Cunningham by Carnegie—no cops, yay! *Click* He arced right by Phi Hall and the Old Well, I arced left over the D Road bricks in front of Chambers. As our trajectories began to reconverge on the far side of campus by Sloan, we gained speed, more than usual even, since we’d been cooped up a couple of days and it was brisk out. We must have been approaching his top recorded speed of 32 miles per hour, timed by ’67 Comet on the lake campus dirt road just last summer. This day, traction control on the curving bricks made it advisable for me to suspend my self-imposed prohibition against riding my bike on the grass. Reunited now side by side in a straight line, we just flat hauled ass across Chambers Lawn, churning and laughing and flapping in a cold wind, yay! Twenty seconds farther on, that happy dog, a dirty no-good squirrel and a small but fatal outcropping in a brick wall conspired for a mercifully brief end to Dodger’s time on earth. He broke his neck, probably never knew it, and my dog died in my arms.
But first, he lived, and boy, did he ever.
Dodger’s aplomb even rated an obit in the local online newspaper, DavidsonNews.net.
His exploits are well-documented in the “Search: Dodger” functionality of this blog.
Of particular note are his young adult years as a travel co-writer in the Great Summer Road Trip of 2009.
[Updated Tues., 1/29/13: WDAV will be running a day sponsorship in memory of Dodger tomorrow at 8:30am and 1:30pm, and featuring a pix of him on their homepage then www.wdav.org. Thanks, classical music friends!]
What’s been most striking to me just in the four days since his death, when I’ve been able to perceive anything at all outside my own black grief, is the touch he brought to so many lives on the Davidson campus, at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Mooresville, in the town of Davidson and in Charlotte, across this nation. I’ve had calls from Maine to Miami to Vegas, fielded e-mails from all over, watched Facebook explode with heartfelt love, all of it for Dodger and for many good dogs who’ve gone on ahead of him, and for the people who’ve loved them.
In the course of any given week these last five years, it has not been unusual for students, or even faculty or fellow staff to introduce themselves to me by saying, “You don’t know me, but I love your dog.”
Oh, no. If you loved my dog, I know you, and I love you, too.
Freshman Orientation is past. I’ve attended the first Humes lecture of the semester. College newsguy Bill Giduz ’74 is out on campus busily snapping “hug moments” amongst joyful returning students . And even though I’m still wearing summer whites (hey, it’s hot as H out there and Labor Day is still two weeks off!), the time has come for Daybook Davidson to bid adieu to summer. Herewith, a few final highlights from Road Trip 2010: The Eastern Seaboard, an exceptionally fine week of travels with Peter “PWags” Wagner ’92, director of alumni relations and Dodger, director of squirrels—some 1,300 zigging, zagging miles all the way from Pete andfamily’s native Maine back to our beloved Davidson, N.C.
First, I drove solo north on I-77 to Akron to visit friends, thence across Pennsylvania to commune with nature and on to Connecticut to visit more friends. I love nature. I love my friends.
Dodger and I camped along our way.
The Davidson-centric, New England-to-North Carolina portion of the trip was bracketed, appropriately enough, by Davidson connections nourishing to the Wildcat spirit, ranging from the serendipitously semi-planned to the wholly unexpected.
First, on the Mass Pike, traffic was so bad that I had to forego a serendipitously semi-planned stop in Wellesley to see Libbie Perry, mom of jULz Perry ’04, in order that I might stay more or less on schedule to join Peter & Cie in Maine. But even though Libbie and I didn’t meet, it was swell to know that there was a Davidson mom out there ready with a smile and a sammich. We love our Davidson moms, don’t we? Dads, too, of course, but moms are, you know, moms. Thanks, Libbie, for being there, and thanks, jULz for e-troducing us!
On the last morning of our trip, we stopped in Harper’s Ferry, W.Va.
The Southern-style Harper’s Ferry heat caught me a tad unawares. OMG. Maybe the time in New England had thinned my blood. Honestly, my sugar dropped and I nearly did, too. I had to go sit in some blessed air conditioning (New Englanders don’t know squat about air conditioning) and have two root beer floats right in a row to keep from falling over prostrate in the dirt. After I had regained my élan vital was when we wholly unexpectedly ran into Andy Roark ’99 and his wife Alison. Tromping down the steep hill to the river as we were tromping up, they spotted our Davidson T-shirts, which by now were our road uniforms de rigueur, wrinkled and unfresh. Much reunion-style high-fiving ensued among the three Davidson gentlemen who needed no introduction and their families, who were somewhat bemused at the alacrity of our salutations. Quite hearty good fun to run into a fellow Wildcat unawares, don’t you think?
Peter’s better half Elena caught up with us from Maine about this time, at the helm of a minivan with their three sons ages 8, 9 and 10, and their two cousins. It was like a cartoon watching them pile out of that thing. Elena gladly took the wheel of my car and I sat and ate pretzels in a smart-alec fashion for the next six hours. We changed out a fresh Wagner boy in the back with Dodger every time we stopped:
Finally, home again, a dip in the pool, laundry and then the excitement of another school year’s beginnings: “Hey, Hey, Time to go to work!” —Tina Turner
I putted my head out the winnder alots and alots on this summer’s road trip, since they wasn’t a movey roof on the rolly house like last year. I smelled everthing. I have run and played and sniffed and chased and barked and leapt and curled up in a ball in a tent in 27 states in two years, which is a lot better than where I lived before, Def Roe. Here is some pitchers of me wif my head out the winnder. Click to see my whole ears.
The first thing Peter and I wanted to know about Lancaster, Pa. was how to pronounce it like a native. “LANK-ester,” our host, Bruce Balestier ’93, assured us. Bruce works in development at Franklin and Marshall College, a beautiful, historic campus (since 1787) in a bustling yet human-scaled, medium-sized town, also historic.
Across the street from Bruce’s work digs, as it happens, lies the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, where we were prepared to make a little history of our own, in the form of a small but robust gathering of alumni, parents, and friends of Davidson College. We had a professional banner and convivial banter. All the other brewery patrons were just pea-green with envy.
Bruce’s wife Amy and daughters Madeline and Colette charmed us the moment I met them. Bruce, too, but mostly Amy and Maddie and Coco. The Carrs showed up next, Kent ’79, his lovely wife Beverly, and their son, incoming freshperson Patrick ’14. (Sis McKensie ’11 couldn’t make it.) Patrick and I were both starving and so we buddied up right quick to move people along as soon as our table was ready. Along the way we collected Mike Pennock ’11, Emily Killough ’08, and the irrepressible Loy Thornton Miller ’83, to round out a good time to be had by all.
Later, Bruce and Amy welcomed our traveling trio of two Wildcats and a wilddog to their lovely and liveable Lancaster home, where we stayed up late (for us) and talked about hoops and books and yoga and kids and I forget what all, until it was time to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for an early run to the Lancaster market, the longest-running market in the nation. Fascinating. We recommend the Amish Long John pastries. Peanut butter.
Back on campus, I got to see the Carrs again today, along with sis McKensie, at the annual Alumni Legacy Welcome Luncheon hosted by none other than Peter himself. It was fun to bring our road acquaintances full circle back to campus!
One of the most memorable times of Road Trip 2010 was the day Peter Wagner, a native Mainer, and I, a North Carolinian with Mississippi roots, spent on the battlefields of Gettysburg. We got an audio tour for the car, then later Peter dropped me and Dodger off at the cemetery while he continued the auto tour. To stand on the spot where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address; to discover a tiny spring under a rock that must have been a welcome sight to all who found it July 2-4, 1863; to lie in a quiet spot on the Wheatfield where 4,000 men died in a day—suffice here to say the voices chattering in my workaday mind and in the tourist-jammed visitor center all receded before the reality, the enormity of feeling those ghosts that grew around us as the day went on.
By the time Peter and I rejoined forces to conclude the audio car tour together as night fell, we were both fairly quiet. Words seemed a luxury. We talked some later. We share a deep respect for the men and the women of the United States military, past and present, that abides undisturbed amid the forces that make their jobs necessary.
Writing this from my air-conditioned desk on campus on the first day of freshman orientation, it strikes me that the Battle of the Wheatfield took more than twice as many lives in a single day as currently number in the Davidson student body—many of those lives the same length or even shorter than our incoming first-years’.
College Archivist Jan Blodgett shed more Davidson light on Gettysburg with research by her predecessor Chalmers Davidson ’28. Consider these notes (and follow the College Archives blog “Around the D,” linked permanently on the right of this page):
• Joseph H. White, class of 1845 – Captain North Carolina Troops, XIII, Born in York District, S.C., Dec. 21, 1824. Graduate of Davidson College. Resided in Mecklenburg County and was by occupation a planter prior to enlisting at age 37. Elected Captain on April 30, 1862. Wounded at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. Reported absent sick on or about Aug. 31, 1863. Returned and reported on detail as acting Assistant Adjutant General of Brigadier General Junius Daniel’s brigade from December 23, 1863, through April, 1864. Killed at Spotsylvania Court House, Va., May 12, 1864
• William J. Alexander, class of 1857 – Captain Co. A, 37th N.C. Regiment. Previously served as 3rd Lt. Co. H. Promoted 1st Lieut. 5/3/63. Transferred to this Co. (A), promoted capt. 6/18/63, captured Gettysburg, 7/3/63, confined at Ft. Delaware, Del. -transferred to Johnsons Is, Ohio – four more transfers listed -finally back to Ft. Delaware 3/12/65 – released 5/30/65 after taking Oath of Allegiance.
• Alexander H. Galloway – class of 1859 – Captain Co. F, 45th N.C. Regt. Born in Rockingham Co., where he resided as a farmer until enlisting at age 23. Appointed 1st Lieutenant ca. 3/11/62. Promoted to Capt. 2/9/63. Present or accounted for until wounded at Gettysburg, 7/3/63 after being app. quartermaster (Major) on staff of Gen. Alfred M. Scales.
• James. B. Lowrie – class of 1859 – 1st Lieutenant 11th N.C. Co. H also F&S and Co. A Killed at Gettysburg, Pa., 1863
• Pinckney W. Hatrick – class of 1860 – 1st Lieutenant 53rd Regt. N.C.T., Co. A Killed at Gettysburg, Pa., 1863 (July) North Carolina Troops, XIII, p. 67–Born in Guilford County where he resided as a schoolteacher prior to enlisting in Guilford County at age 25. Elected 1st Lieutenant on April 30, 1862. Reported present on surviving muster rolls through June, 1863. Killed at Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863.
• John Willis, class of 1863 – Lieutenant Killed “near Gettysburg, Pa., while captain of a company from Davidson College. Conflicting reports of death on this John Willis Theodore, Cairns, class of 1864 – Resided in Shelby County, Tenn., and enlisted in Guilford County at age 20, July 4, 1862 for the war. Captured at Hagerstown, Md., July 12, 1863 and confined at Fort Delaware, Del., until released after taking the Oath of allegiance June 8, 1965. 5th N.C. Cavalry Co. I (63rd N.C.T.) Taken prisoner at Chambersburg, Pa.next to Gettysburg. In prison at Fort Delaware till end of war.
• Romulus Morrison Tuttle, class of 1869 – Capt. Co. F, 26th N.C. Regt. Vances “He led a charge at Gettysburg with 3 officers and 88 men. 21 killed 60 wounded.”
One happy feature of our bonus 24 hours in Dorset, Vermont (scroll to “Brokedown Mountain” post) was that Peter and I had the whole afternoon to visit with nearby Stan Hynds ’83 and Stephanie Moffett-Hynds ’84. Driving the brand-new fine-furniture transport truck graciously loaned us by our Dorset host Steve Holman ’78 (Dodger loved the back of the truck, very spacious for lying down), we first stopped at Stan’s place of business, Northshire Bookstore. Northshire is an independent bookstore of the kind I had been missing without even knowing it: a thriving, multi-leveled, labyrinthian hub of discovery and solace smack in the middle of the naturally lovely and gloriously isolated town of Manchester, Vermont.
Some years back, Stan and Stephanie moved from Pasadena, Calif. to Vermont, the move the fruit of their search for a place where he could professionally relish his love of the book business, where she could pursue professional acting, and where they could rear a family removed from the worst of the world’s current craziness. They found it. From Northshire Bookstore, Peter and I drove to Arlington, Vt, where we found Stan and Stephanie’s straightforwardly, unfancily sprawling home on a lush Vermont mountainside piled high with books and artistic sensibility–not a television in sight. There is a TV in the guest house out back, a converted workshop of a previous owner, Stephanie told us over cheese and fruit and brews. Two winters ago, she said, the Moffett and Hynds clan and friends would pile out there in their coats and watch through the mist of their own winter’s breaths as the Wildcats played their hearts out. Stan and Stephanie and kids Wally and Sarah would run laps around the house to celebrate Wildcat leads, and to stay warm.
The real warmth on our visit in August came from the story of the return of the ring. Some year or so ago, Peter had received a Davidson class ring in the mail from a couple, with a note saying they had found it in on the back of a sink in a public lavatory, and had intended to return it immediately, but it had ended up for some 20 years in the back of a drawer. Oops. Long story short, the ring had belonged to Stephanie’s dad, Dr. Bill Moffett, Sr. ’54, and furthermore, she had been with him the day it disappeared! He died in 1995, but Stephanie and her mom were thrilled to get the ring back.
[Update 8/12/10 per Peter Wagner's mom (Hi, Marlene!) re beach roses (see photo gallery): "News from my mom… the things that I’ve always called “salt water roses” are in fact “beach roses.” And it is indeed a rose, but not necessarily native to Maine (although they’re EVERYWHERE, and in my lifespan I certainly think of them as native – when I really try I can imagine how they smell)." — Peter Wagner '92, Director of Alumni Relations"]
Past the shipyards in Bath to Bates College in Lewiston to lighthouses on the Maine coast, then on to Portsmouth and Concord and Hanover in New Hampshire, Dodger and Peter and I made our way those first fateful days of “Road Trip 2010: Up the Eastern Seaboard.” We climbed rocks and rode waves, gobbled lobsters and whoopee pies, traversed hills and dales. At dark on Day Two, we passed up a sketchy’n'foreboding New Hampshire no-tell motel out in the sticks where no one would hear you scream, in favor of trudging onward anon to an establishment featuring indoor pool, outdoor lighting and the promise of hermetically-sealed muffins come morning. We wi-fi’ed, we rested, we swam.
En route the next day, Day Three afternoon, my classmate and class secretary Kelly Sundberg Seaman ’85 pinged us back from our on-the-road contact via the Alenda Links online directory to say that she was indeed in Hanover, where she works in public affairs at Dartmouth College. A happy hour we then spent at a festive l’il cafe in Hanover, taking in the passing college-town scene and talking shop about media relations, communications, and other aspects of our jobs that we can sometimes make seem easy because they are fun.
Day Four, and Day Five it turned out, we were in Dorset, Vt., at the home of Steve Holman ’78.
[N.B. Yes, this blog is a little out of order based on the chronology of our travels. I found this summer that, unlike Road Trip 2009, when you cram all the events and visits and mileage into one week instead of six, there's precious little time for Wifi and blogging.... so I'm catching up!]
The morning after last Monday’s Casco Bay Sunset Run in Portland, Peter and I caught up with Nat May ’95, executive director of Portland’s Space Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art space featuring visual arts, live music and performance, film, artists features and more. The “more” on the day we visited included a chat with exhibiting artist Bill Daniel, an old-car buff like myself who made me miss the tiring Comet I’d left behind in my driveway for this trip. Snif.
CLICKABLE PIX: (Left) An “art machine” in the Space Gallery lobby is one way Nat helps bridge the latter-day gap between artists and patrons. (Right) Peter ’92 and Nat ’95 caught up a bit on mutual acquaintances and memories from their overlapping time at Davidson. Dodger waits patiently, since there are no squirrels.
Over lunch, Nat told a story that for me epitomized the importance of places like Space Gallery, with its multifold purpose of artistic incubator and exhibition space. The story is that when artist Daniel’s “sailvan” was parked out front one evening, with environmentally-related video arts being projected on its sails for passersby to ponder, one lady stopped in for an engaging conversation about the subject matter at hand. In taking her leave, she enunciated her delight with the mind-opening exhibit and the ensuing turn of conversation with this parting shot: “Thank God. I thought it was just going to be an ‘art project.’”
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And in Portland’s Space Gallery. Go, Nat!
I finally left Davidson Saturday after lunch, not in ye olde 1967 Mercury ragtop but in ye not-so-olde 2000 Nissan. Long story short: I only felt okay about taking the Comet, and I needed to feel great. An hour later, at a dead stop in a construction zone on I-77 in the 98 degree heat, my decision was vindicated: I maxed the Maxima’s AC, cranked up the Bose, and haven’t looked back in 1,100 miles. Life is a trade. Move on.
Taking the sensible car freed me up some, too. On a last-minute whim, for instance, I made a 400-mile detour to Akron for coffee with friends, then camped on across Pennsylvania to my first calendared destination, the Manchester, Conn. home of clan Burris, at whose dining table I now sit.
I’ve been a hanger-on and professional houseguest chez Burris since Keith and my ’80s days together at the Winston-Salem Journal. Now writer Keith is editorial page editor at the Manchester Journal Inquirer and artist Amy teaches. This particular conflagration of sensibilities has made for exceptionally interesting kids, Alec, Sophie, and Willy. (Dodger thinks the cats, Fiendy and Fooey, are interesting, too; they find him much less so. Emma the good old dog is huffingly, puffingly agreeable with all comers.)
Alec, Sophie, and Willie are all grown up now, which has the cumulative effect of adding even more relish to my longtime role as “Symmie,” an ancillary adjunct of uncle-ishness, a curmudgeonly good-time Charley with all the commitment to the family for love and respect and laughs, but none of the responsibility for vegetables and curfews and braces. “Hey, kids, who wants pizza?! Let’s make popsicles! Wanna go to the movies, my treat?… Ooh, tuition, now there’s a thing. Better go ask your dad.”
I’ve survived to the age and stage in life where there aren’t just scads of old friends rolling off the assembly line for me. I cherish every moment with the best ones. It’s good to be home.
FRIDAY UPDATE II, 7:10 p.m.: The good Lord wasn’t willing. But fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll think about that tomorrow. I’m sure He has His reasons, and after all, tomorrow is another day.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Bright and early is looking more like bright and late and hot as Hades, but the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll be on the road at some point today, 7/23/10!
FROM THURSDAY: The morning’s news: One more brake adjustment and the dog has, ah, nervous stomach. Taking an easy day and leaving bright and early Friday.