Thursday, December 12, 2013

If you're visiting this site for the first time, I invite you to select the month of May, 2012 found to the right of this page. The first day begins on May 19th.

Many people have asked over the years what my brother Aaron and I did for schooling during the Walk.

My Dad, Richard, was a teacher in the nearby Santa Barbara community of Goleta, California for more than 40 years. When I was a toddler back in the mid 70's, he took a sabbatical from teaching and obtained his masters degree and administrative credential at the University of California Santa Barbara.

My parents approached the independent studies program with our local school district in Ventura. They requested that our school district admit Aaron and me into the program so that we could undertake our goal of walking across the U.S. At first the district denied my parents request stating that the program was rarely used and that it was designed for children in the television and motion picture industry. Dad then appealed to them in the pocket book. He told the district that he was more than happy to pull Aaron and me out of the district and start his own school because of his administrative and teaching credentials and my Mom's teaching credential as well. He just thought that they might like to have the state funding for Aaron and me. Dad proposed that they approve curriculum for the 6 and 8th grades along with our daily journals being graded for English credit. After this suggestion from my Dad, the district was more than happy to accommodate our unique situation.

During the summer leading up to the Walk, I completed a substantial amount of schoolwork. This would prove helpful during our trip. Many of our evenings after walking all day, required that we do our schoolwork. When an assignment or book was completed with my parents guidance, we would mail the work back to Ventura for grading. New assignments and our grades would be mailed to us via general delivery to a post office in an upcoming town or community. This allowed Aaron and me to remain on schedule academically and move back into our schools when we returned from our adventure. I started high school and Aaron started middle school in the 7th grade the following September of 1987.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Within a few minutes, Bill came bounding into the lobby of McDonald Funeral Home. His persona filled the room. Despite not seeing each other for 25 years, he greeted me with a warm embrace and showed the same welcome to Cathleen. After introductions, Bill invited us over to his new home a block away. After a short walk down the street, we were sipping iced tea in Bill and Joy's living room.
As you can imagine, we had a lot to talk about! Bill told us that he is still involved in the family business, but that his son Ryan is now running most of the daily operations. Along with those responsibilities, Ryan and his family have now moved into the big old house directly next to the funeral home. Bill and Joy lived there along with Ryan and his siblings when we were walking across America back in 1987. The house was built before the Civil War.

Bill asked us if he could call the local newspaper to let them know that one of the Huffs was back in Centerville. I said, "Sure, I'd love to talk with them." Soon we were all standing on the sidewalk in front of McDonald Funeral Home talking with Bradley A. Martin, the editor of Centerville's Hickman County Times. The newspaper is published every Monday and serves a county of roughly 25,000 people. After a short interview and some photos, Cathleen and I said our farewell's and continued down the road. I really enjoyed catching up with the McDonald's after so many years. Cathleen and I will definitely keep in touch with them.

A few miles past Centerville, we came across the Natchez Trace Parkway. On our original walk, after completely a 4 mile segment, Mom and Dad had driven us a couple miles back in order to explore the historic parkway. The parkway is a beautiful stretch of land with green rolling hills and lush forests. A couple miles down the parkway was a section of the original Indian trail that can be walked on. So Dad and Mom had us all walk about an eighth of a mile on it.

Many times after my Grandparents had left us back in Eastern Arizona, we had benefited from the use of a car, not just for protection, but because it allowed us to see surrounding countryside and historic points of interest. This would not have been possible without the benefit of a car. The Natchez Trace Parkway was one such experience. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sleeping in the funeral home above the morgue turned out to be really cool. The night I moved in, there were actually no dead bodies, but I could not quite shake the nervousness in my stomach. I imagined I was staying in my own motel room and so the night passed smoothly. My nightly prayers took on more urgency then they probably did most nights back then.

On the second night staying in the mortician's apartment, I had a dream that a dead body was being moved into the funeral home. Suddenly there was a loud crash. I bolted upright, my heart racing. I heard voices. One of the voices uttered an oath because apparently, while moving a body into the morgue, it had been dropped on the floor. "Mrs. Wilson's not gonna to be too happy about this!," I heard one of the voices say.

The dream seemed so real! I inquired from Mr. McDonald whether any "guests" had moved into the funeral home the night before. I was informed that there were two. I imagined the theme to the "Twilight Zone" in my 14 year old head.

Today, Cathleen and I were visiting Centerville. Could it be possible that Bill McDonald was still running McDonald Funeral Home? Cathleen and I figured out that the McDonald Funeral Home was just off the main square. Soon I was anxiously hopping out the car with Cathleen trying to keep up. Inside the funeral home an young women greeted us pleasantly and an older man stood behind her. He asks in a friendly voice what they could do to help us. I grinned from ear to ear and said that I was looking for Bill McDonald. I quickly explained that I was revisiting the town we had stayed in 25 years before as we were walking from California to Virginia. I was soon on the phone talking to Bill himself!