World Tour '09
As the title implies, we have spent the last two weeks on the road, in situations with little time for blogging, and often in places with no internet access. Here's the recap of some of the recent weeks' activities, in case there's still somebody out there who gives a shit.
Peggy's father passed away May 17. I hoped to spend my off days that week mowing the grass, which was starting to reach critical levels, but when his wife called with the sad news, Jenn, Amanda, and I packed our bags and headed off to Illinois. Foster Frederick, known to most folks as Fred, was a fairly important man in his community. He was a Korean War veteran who came home and spent a career working in the factories of Granite City, eventually retiring from Granite City Steel. He became deeply involved in the labor movement, becoming an official in the Steelworkers' Union at the state level. I don't believe I will meet anyone else as committed to labor as Fred was. Through his union work, he developed many ties to local politics, and after retiring served 12 years as an alderman. He taught Sunday school at his church for many years. When my brother Scott passed away, Fred was very supportive of my family, and after the service bought dinner for a number of us at an expensive Italian restaurant. Over the years, he accomplished many good things in his community, and he will be missed by the family.
While in the area, we took the short trip across the big river to St. Louis to visit the Gateway Arch, which Jenn and Amanda had never seen before. A trip to the Arch is well worth it if you ever visit St. Louis. The Arch is 630 feet high, and you can ride a tram to the observation room at the top for some spectacular views of the St. Louis area. The museum below the base of the Arch features the story of America's westward expansion and is interesting and educational in itself. Jenn took plenty of pictures.
We arrived back at Pole Hill to find that the grass in places was up to Amanda's armpits. But there was no time to cut grass, as the next day we were off to Jenn's aunt and uncle's place in the wilds of east Georgia. The term "hellhole" is not one I use lightly, having had the experience of walking the streets of Hartford, Illinois, but a week in the East Georgia woods is a uniquely numbing experience. The area has few resources and fewer jobs, and is mired in the sort of poverty common to isolated rural areas. It's not totally isolated - there's a Walmart, but it's a half-hour drive away. They do have satellite TV, but no wireless services reach the house. I would go insane spending any significant length of time in that environment. At the end of the week, we dropped Amanda off to spend a few weeks with Uncle Harry, Aunt Sue, and her sister Lucy until we return for the girls and the rest of Jenn's stuff, and headed back to Tennessee.
When we got back I was glad to see that my neighbor brought his tractor over to cut some of the grass down, for which I am very grateful. On the other side of my property, I came home to find the new neighbors were proudly flying the Confederate flag from their front porch. Grrr.
I work the next three nights, then it's back on the road to Illinois for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. The adventure continues.