| On The Road

Posted by admin at 2008, October 1, 3:24 PM
More of this topic in Story

The story is called 'On the Road'. It was written by an American reporter Charles Kuralt. It is from his book called 'A Life On the Road'. For many years, Charles Kuralt traveled across the United States, telling interesting stories about Americans. His stories were broadcast on the CBS televison network. Later, some were published in books.

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I had the somewhat unrealistic idea that I would find interesting stories at every crossroads throughout the American countryside. So the cameraman, soundman and I started out with great hope from New York City. タ±βwWW。fAIRY-taLe.iNfO

For a few rainy days, we drove through the small towns of New England, the northeast corner of the United States. We drove aimlessly without one idea in our heads. I began to get nervous, wondering if an idea would ever come. ˊθsWWw.FaIRy-TAle.InFopЁ⌒√A

Then the sun came out and the wind started to blow and the bright autumn leaves shook and fell off the trees, yellow and red and gold rained down all around us. In every town, children were playing in the hills of leaves. We got the camera out and did our first story about how pretty it all was. ㄢヘwww.FAIRY-talE.infOū7

As a news reporter, I was used to going fast and working hard. These kinds of stories, however, seemed to work best when I went slow and took it easy. When I finally shook off the sense of speed of a newsman, I did not have to worry about finding stories any longer. They found me.

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In Westerville, Ohio, I met Professor John Franklin Smith. He taught speech and drama at Otterbein College until he was 70 years old. Then the school rules said he had to retire. He could not imagine leaving the students behind. So when he was forced to retire, he just kept working at the college. He had continued to work for 15 years as a cleaning man in the gymnasium. wWW.FAiRy-TalE.InFoメθ※まí

'During my years as a professor,' he said, 'I would walk through the gym and see the men cleaning the floor. I knew what a mop was and what a bucket was. It was hard work for me at first, but I get used to it. It is necessary to work. And I try to do it well.'

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I asked him which brought him more satisfaction, being a professor or being a cleaning man.

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He smiled and said, 'It is not fair to ask me a question like that. I think I would have to say that every age in life has its own rewards. I am still look ahead.' This 85-year-old man said, 'I do not want to die. There is too much fun in the world and a lot of good folks, a lot of them and good books to read and fish to catch and pretty women to look at and good men to know. Why? Life is a joy.' útMWwW.FAIRY-TalE.inFO

Charles Kuralt also visited the pilot town of Louisiana, near the mouth of the Mississippi River. All the houses there are built on thick wooden legs, so that they will not be washed away when the river floods. The community can be reached only by boat or sea plane. That is where he met Andy Spirer. ㄝサWww.FAiry-TalE.InFO%ㄥA∷ū

Andy Spirer was a hunter and fisherman. He read books written in the Greek language. And for ten years he was the only teacher in a one-room school. Why did he stay in such a lonely place? 'Well,' he said, 'they have trouble getting teachers to live here. Somebody has to teach the children.'

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As they continued driving across the United States looking for interesting stories, the on-the-road team found a green mill on a little river in the state of Maryland. The man who operated the mill was Captain Frank Languill. He was 81 years old.

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The Linchester Mill ground corn for settlers in 1681. A hundred years later it ground corn for the army of General George Washington during America's War for Independence from Britain. And it was still grinding corn almost 200 years after that. It must have been the oldest continually operated business in the country. Yet the mill did not interest me as much as the miller. He had been working beside his mill stone for 65 years. Was he tired of the job? 'Yes,' Frank Languill said, 'yes, there really is no profit in it any more, but these farmers depend on me, you see. There is no other place around here to grind their corn.' wWw.FaIRy-TAlE。infO

In professor John Franklin Smith, teacher Andy Spirer and miller Frank Languill, I saw Americans of a sort I have not known before. They were linked to the places where they lived. And they worked not so much for themselves as for others. 'It is necessary work.' Professor Smith had said. 'Somebody has to teach the children.' Mr. Spiral had said. 'These farmers depend on me.' Captain Languill had said. Their purposes and jobs seemed completely honorable to me. They did not feel they were better than anyone else. They were not working just to make a lot of money. I read the papers every day. The front pages were full of greedy, self-important, hostile people. The backroads were another country.

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In April of that year 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. In June, Robert Kennedy was murdered as he campaigned for president. Several American cities exploded in riots and flames. I felt so sad for the two dead men and for the country they had done so much to change for the better. I might have thought the country was going insane if I had not been on the road. I had eyes and ears. I kept meeting people who made me feel sure about the future. す7Twww.faiRy-tALE。INfOá∩t

In July, I met Pet Baker, a young white woman in Reno, Nevada. The night Martin Luther King was killed, Pet Baker sat up late. I have to do something about this, she thought. On her way to work she had often passed big, empty space in a black community. She wondered why the city had not made a park in the empty space. Now she went to see the man who represented her community on the City Council. He told her there was no money to build a park. He explained how difficult it would be to raise the money. Pet Baker decided she could not wait. She went to talk with people in the black community. She went to garden supply companies and cement companies and builders and the heads of local building unions. Soon her idea became everybody's idea. At 7:30 one Friday morning, a crowd began to gather at the empty space in Reno, Nevada. An hour later good soil was being spread by men in big machines, men who were not used to working for free. They were working for free. I stood there and watched. By noon cement had been poured for a tennis court. Before the sun went down, a basketball court was done. Many people worked all night. On Saturday Morning, a crowd of several hundred people came to work, black and white, old and young. They planted trees and grass and made paths and places to sit. By Sunday afternoon, the park was finished. *wwW.FaIrY-TAle。INFOㄑīの◎ω≌
 
I went back there more than 20 years later. In the shade of the trees which were now very tall, people were sitting and playing in the park. I thought back to the weekend of the park was built, a black man had looked around and said :" This is the best thing that has happened since I came to Reno." He did not mean the park itself. He meant building the park.
 
In that first year on the road, I fell in love with my native land. I rode the Wabash Cannonball train through Indiana. I rode the Delta Queen paddle wheel steamboat down the Ohio river. I rode the cable cars up and down the hills of San Francisco. I spent time among Pennsylvania Dutch farmers in Cooperstown, Pennsylvania and Greek sponge fishermen in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I met M.C.Pinkstaff, the roadside poet of Gordon Junction, Illinois. At his store he sold gasoline for 39 cents a gallon and his poems for ten cents a piece. That first year, I produced 47 stories from 23 states, all of them my own discoveries. The biggest discovery of all was about myself. On the backroads of America I felt at home at last. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life ... ㄨてwww.FaIRY-taLe。InFoj∽

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