Mississippi River Magnificence In Motion

“The river itself has no beginning or end. In its beginning, it is not yet the river; in the end it is no longer the river… At what point in its course does the Mississippi become what the Mississippi means?” (T. S. Eliot)

What does the Mississippi River mean to me from a road trip perspective? First of all, it marks a clear natural boundary where we leave more familiar grounds of populated eastern region settlement for the more wilder regions of the American West. Accordingly, I seem to transition in spirit after crossing the great river from a leisure centered tourist with pre-programmed sightseeing ways into a free roaming vagabond from pioneer days past. This Mississippi River border perspective also provides some tantalizing river cities of interest to stay for awhile before we proceed onward into more rugged terrain. In this regard, I immediately think of three favorite towns we’ve visited before. There’s Vicksburg, Mississippi often depicted as the turning point battle site of the Civil War, Hannibal, Missouri so nostalgically filled with Mark Twain’s literary world, and New Orleans where the Ol’Man River inspired musical jazz and blues artistry of a uniquely American style. I might add to this list  the old cliffside town of Dubuque, Iowa, where we’ve wandered into on our present adventure  in search of more pleasant moments of riverside discovery.

Yet I now realize that my road trip focus about the Mississippi River has  changed. For during our recent visit to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, I now question how my past fixation on what’s beyond the Mississippi River has ignored the presence of the river itself. Know then that the innovative exhibit design of this massive two building complex and aquarium provided ample opportunity for me to experience the sensory sights, sounds, and touch of realistic river life scenes stretching from early explorer days, through the flourishing steamboat era into busy cargo and tourist traffic times today. I thus found particular enjoyment in observing relics of old steamboat and fishing vessels, feeling the smooth surface of a stingray in a “touch tank” and composing a river inspired song using an interactive sound screen.

One might surmise from my previous descriptions that the “mighty Mississippi” survives as an indestructible natural phenomenon in today’s world. But how wise a decision had been made to construct so many historic dams and locks along its course that interrupted the natural course of flow of it’s muddy waters? For the Mississippi River suffers today from excessive riverbank erosion and flooding, serious buildups of toxic chemicals,, as well as excessive silt and sand buildup on its river bottoms. So I might reason as the fragile Mississippi flows on its downstream course with resilience from its riverless source to its end at the sea, I must accordingly learn to weather the “ups and downs” of my mere mortal existence with tenacious spirit in the present moment while I can.

Finding My Summertime Bearing

“ Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” (Porgy and Bess)

Those warm days of summer typically signify a festive explosion of outdoor activity in the Midwest region of America. For I recall from my childhood in northeast Ohio how restless I felt being cooped up inside our house during the frigid wrath of winter and sometimes spring weather that often lasted up to six months a year. So with true summer’s arrival in July and August, our Midwest travels on this current road trip allowed me to re-live those easygoing childhood moments filled with lush forest hikes in the Cuyahoga Valley, swimming escapades in Summit County lakes , and Cleveland Indians  baseball games at old Municipal Stadium.

I might say then that the westerly leg of our road trip so far since leaving Pennsylvania has brought forth an interesting array of relatively inexpensive recreational discoveries for us to enjoy. Consider then that by simply taking a “comfy” seat for a Cleveland Guardians baseball game at Progressive Field and two days later at a Chicago Cub game at Wrigley Field, the slow pace of each contest felt so relaxing to me. Or envision the nostalgic thrill of aimlessly observing the local flora and fauna along  a secluded, beachfront reserve walk followed by a refreshing swim in the cool waters of Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Park. With such a fun loving vibe inspiring us now, it made total sense then to dance and sing along this past Saturday night with some legendary “oldies” bands ( Gary Puckett, The Association, The Turtles … ) at a concert titled “Happy Together” that we attended at the historic Genesee Theater in Waukegan. Illinois.

Pennsylvania’s Field of Honor

“ There are heroisms all around us waiting to be done” (Arthur Conan Doyle)

In our road trip travels, heroism can pop up at any time or place when I encounter humans or even animals who answer a challenging situation with honorable service toward the greater good. So I’ve already paid tribute in my last blog to my being a witness at Independence Hall in Philadelphia where the bold actions of those distinguished “Founding Founders” in 1787 approved a written document of Constitutional government safeguarding our America’s Democracy of “We The People” to endure. But in passing throughout the region of Western Pennsylvania on this latest driving adventure, I witnessed three other exemplary models of heroism as well. At the conclusion of this blog, I thus invite you take a few minutes to observe my Pennsylvania Field of Honor in my latest photo collection.

So let’s begin near in those remote fields and woods near the small farm village of Shanksville, where Ruth and I obtained a firsthand look last Saturday at the tragic crash site of Flight 93. As a point of reference on this visit, a large boulder in the distance marks the spot where thirty three passengers and seven crew members perished on December 7, 2001. However, during those panic-struck minutes when the aircraft remained airborne and in full control of the terrorists, unarmed passengers came together in a heroic yet inevitably futile attempt to defeat al Qaeda and regain control of the plane. Consider then the magnitude of their heroism at the time of the plane crash. For with only eighteen minutes of flying time back to Washington D.C., the risk of terrorists turning the planes around and crash landing on other iconic landmarks of our nation’s capitol seemed likely that day.

Two notable landmarks we visited then at this final resting place for those unselfish heroes who perished that day took place at the National Memorial Visitor and adjacent Memorial Plaza showcasing an extensive collection of family and friend remembrances and a detailed explanation of the tragic events that happened that day. We then drove a short distance to obtain a close look at the crash site now lined along it’s perimeter by a paved walkway leading to a poignant Wall Of Names. A final place of Flight 93 tribute took place a few miles back toward the main entrance at the Tower of Voices where wind chimes rang softly along this creative obelisk in musical remembrance to those victims that day.

Moving on that afternoon to Indiana, Pennsylvania, I’d looked forward to paying a visit to the Jimmy Stewart Museum during our two day stay. So upon walking through its six galleries that documenting  this famed movie actor’s life, I discovered a humble man of heroic stature who sacrificed years of film stardom to embark on a twenty seven career in the military during and after World War Two. Know that after Jimmy enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a private, by war’s end, he became fully decorated as a colonel, flying twenty, dangerous combat missions over Germany as a squadron leader in a B-24 Allies plane. On a personal note, it seemed very perplexing to me at the conclusion of this visit, that my father, who also risked his life in bombing raids over Germany form 1944-1945 did not also gain similar public recognition for such heroic deeds as well.

It might seem odd for me to recognize a furry animal as model of heroism on our road trip endeavor. But at our final Western Pennsylvania stop in the quiet village of Punxsutawney, a local ground hog named Phil, each year, emerges from his burrow at the beginning of February in town each year to provide hope to weather enthusiasts for winter’s end near and far. In fact, Phil’s legacy as a local hero all over town in Punxsutawney seems so powerful that town leaders have built him a safe indoor burrow to insure his survival year around at Barclays Square.

Philadelphia Freedom Flowing

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution” (Abraham Lincoln)

The sheer amount of American History in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania overwhelms me with chills of joy. So with only two days to spare here on our latest road trip, I felt that a one day walking tour around the colonial city center would provide the best option to pursue. Some highlights from my itinerary there are briefly described below.

1. National Constitution Center – Surround yourself along circular tour route with over 250 years of our U.S. Constitution in action. Walk amid life-size statues of the 42 men who gathered in Philadelphia for the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. Observe two special exhibits documenting the long struggle for women’s right to vote leading up to the 19th amendment passage and the African American struggle for Civil Rights during the Post Civil War Reconstruction period.

2. Independence Hall – Enter the Assembly Room on a short tour where the birthplace of the United States Democracy took place. In 1776, the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence here. While 11 years later, in the same room, delegates to the Constitutional Convention created and signed the United States Constitution. Then move to the West wing to see one of the original documents of the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Articles of Confederation.

3. Christ Church Burial Ground – Pay homage to the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence who are unceremoniously buried in here

So I’m sitting contentedly in Washington Square Park in Philadelphia the next day pondering what I’ve learned from yesterday’s visit to the birthplace of America’s democracy. A few hours earlier, I had witnessed a blazing restaurant fire take place in a popular downtown restaurant as we we were walking nearby. I immediately noticed then an efficient response of fire and police working in cooperative tandem to de-escalate any danger to the large gathering crowd while on-site reporters reported the “Breaking News” live on camera for all to see.

So I applaud the city of Philadelphia for demonstrating to me in this dire emergency how Americans can effectively work together for the common good in our democracy as our Constitution intended. For absent such rules of free government, what alternative scenario could have taken to place if Authoritarian leadership had been in control? How quickly would the public authorities have arrived on the scene in response to quell any neighborhood panic? Would bystanders be shot by the secret police if they encroached to closely on the scene? How would this tragic event of human concern be covered in the heavily propagandized media that seemed accustomed to “spinning’s lies about any negativism concerning their autocratic regime.

So Let’s face it. America needs leaders who respond well to the will of all people they serve not a system where the people serve at the whims of insensitive despots in charge. That’s our Constitutional way. ” So let’s heed the warnings as John Adams, esteemed “Founding Father” who once said ” But a Constitution of government once changed from freedman can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” So I welcome you to observe some photographic impressions I took from these Philadelphia landmarks I visited below.

On Hallowed Petersburg Ground

“I feel that duty called me here to fight for home and friends most dear. And if I should be called to stand in bloody conflict hand to hand. I’ll trust in God my only stay and fight until I win the day… (Private Ancil Dycus, 34th North Carolina Infantry)

I’m on truly hallowed ground today as I witnessed the bloody resolution to the last major battle campaign of the Civil War at Petersburg, Virginia on the second day of our road trip. Fortunately, a large expanse of the actual battlefield grounds known as “The Breakthrough” we witnessed lies fully preserved for authentic visitor remembrance along several self guided trails at Pamplin Historic Park . Know that in visiting this landmark, I came to realize that the unselfish bravery and ultimate sacrifice of so many Union and Confederate soldiers here on April 2 , 1865 would be the final spark to ultimately produce within days a peaceful resolution to this long Civil War..

Along with our abbreviated walking tour of the actual battlefield grounds, we also learned that the surrounding land during those war torn times functioned as the tobacco thriving enterprise called Tutor Hall Plantation where enslaved black labor laboriously worked the fields as the “War Between The States” unfolded. So it became imperative in the Pamphlin design of this park to also present a restored version of this “Old South” plantation home with adjoining slave quarters as it most likely appeared during the Civil War period for visitors to see for themselves.

After enduring our invigorating walking experience in the summer heat, a welcoming end to today’s Pamphlin tour took place in the air conditioned comfort the Battlefield Center and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. This indoor tour enabled us to view a multitude of authentic Civil War battle artifacts, a feature film titled “War So Terrible” and most impressively a “high tech” simulation of the sights and sounds experienced during the Petersburg battle in “virtual reality” fashion. As we ended our three hour tour of the Pamphlin tragedy that day, I pondered how similarly my country seems to be spiraling toward a violent period of crisis in the coming years.

Please be advised that the photos shown below are primarily taken on the outside portions of the Pamphlin complex as photography of exhibits inside the buildings was not permitted.

Beaufort’s Conroy Connection

“When I came to Beaufort I had struck upon a land so beautiful I had to hunt for other words that ached with the joyous, carnal charms of the green marshes that seemed to be the source of all life.” (Pat Conroy)

A few years back, I considered Beaufort, South Carolina as merely a routine stopping point for a one night stay on the way I – 95 northbound on our road-trips. But in that first time drive eastward from the Interstate into a vast swampy region fittingly labeled as “Low Country”, I discovered to my surprise a pedestrian friendly “Old Town district relatively unchanged from its antebellum Civil War heyday in the past. Other historic tidbits soon further engaged my interest as I began to explore beyond the town center as well. Notably, I learned that Hollywood in the early 1990s chose “sleepy town” Beaufort and surrounding waters as the main filming locale of the film Forrest Gump. It also became important for me to know that during the Civil Rights era of the 1970s, Martin Luther King once wrote his famous “I Have A Dream” speech nearby Beaufort on. St. Helena Island. So you might say that I’ve learned to feel quite comfortable in Beaufort precisely by witnessing such vestiges of its historic past on that first tourist “go-around”

But then I happened to gain a fresh tourist perspective about the Beaufort experience from its celebrated home author of late, Pat Conroy. For I’d been inspired after reading some excerpts from his novel “The Water Is Wide” to take a more intimate look at this author’s time spent growing up and later experiencing literary success as a novelist in Beaufort. So my latest quest for Beaufort understanding began with an intimate look inside the Pat Conroy Literacy Center to begin our latest road trip this week. As I walked around the various halls showcasing authentic mementos from his Beaufort past, I discovered two places around the town that seemed of utmost importance to him while living there. So as Conroy once did, we first ventured to the southerly tip of Old Beaufort along Bay Street, to spend some quiet time under some massive oak trees and magnificent mansions lining the tranquil shores of the Beaufort River swamplands beyond. After dinner, we took an inviting walking tour of nearby Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park overlooking a spectacular sunset which further enlightened us to the Conroy’s love of Beaufort as expressed through his novels. Enjoy the photos.

Roaming Resilience Restored

“It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.” (Oscar Wilde)

It’s easy to become cynical today about how difficult it seems for people to get along cooperatively in the United States today. For community tensions exacerbated by social media abuse seems to escalate out of control about abortion, gun violence, and our inflationary economy right now. Yet travel teaches me to stay curious about finding positive lessons of historic significance which might ease America’s social ills today.

On a personal level then, I thus hope to stand proudly on the grounds of six extraordinary monuments during our upcoming road trip seeking fresh inspiration as an American to find common ground to unite rather than divide both friend and foe. Allow me to offer you a brief glimpse of these symbolic masterpieces as well in the photo set below.

1. Independence Hall and Liberty Bell – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(Relive key moments of political compromise that took place at the birthplace of America’s Democracy)

2. Flight 93 National Memorial – Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Honor those hijacked airline passengers who unselfishly bonded together to save lives on 9/11/2001)

3 Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb – Springfield , Illinois 

(Pay tribute to our 16th President, a legendary leader for all people during America’s Civil War.)

4. Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland , Ohio 

(Feel the uniting energy of a musical revolution from its “teeny bopper” beginnings in the 1950s to its mainstream appeal today)

5. Nebraska State Capitol – Lincoln, Nebraska

(Examine in depth it’s unique interior design dedicated to the humanistic ideals of Western Civilization)

6. Wrigley Field, Chicago,Illinois

(Bask in the sights and sounds of a Cubs game amid a diverse atmosphere of loyal hometown fans in the second oldest league ballpark still active in the United States)

Motoring My Midwest Way

“ You can take the boy out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the boy.” (Joe Lando)

It’s due time again for Ruth and I to set out on the second leg of our regional road trip in the United States for 2022. It’s exhilarating for me to return to my CRV Honda vehicle as we journey up the east coast from South Florida, turning west into Pennsylvania through the Midwest heartland to Nebraska and then home again to complete this one month itinerary (see the map above). With less ground to cover between scheduled destinations than our western tours on this latest driving jaunt, I envision that that this slower pace may rekindle in this Midwest born and bred person, a genuine sense of those happy times he experienced in Cuyahoga Falls, his Ohio childhood home.

You might be curious to know then what reasoning underlies my strong nostalgia to recapture the summer spirit of the U.S. Midwest heartland in the upcoming weeks. Let’s just say I recall fond glimpses of what fun opportunities during those precious months of seasonable weather brought to me in Cleveland’s environs as a child. For I deeply long for a return of that carefree spirit of summer enjoyment with family and friends that these limited season opportunities provided. Sharing a cool lick of an ice cream cone with my buddy, catching fireflies in a jar for all to see, or simply rolling around in the grass in a playful “hide and seek” game exemplify a few of these vivid memories of such pure childhood fun.

So I am understandably excited that throughout our visits to the Midwest hubs of Cleveland, Chicago, Dubuque, Springfield, Lincoln, and Columbus , we will take time to enjoy summertime opportunities during these two and three day visits rather than spend excessive times driving to and from. For on the docket for our one month journey, we foresee finding time to swim in in cool Great Lakes waters, sing and dance once again at a late 1960s themed, “Happy Together” concert, frolic youthfully through the carnival environs of the Illinois State Fair and of course absorb the inviting sensory atmosphere of live professional baseball games.

Perhaps I can best illustrate those ideal fun experiences I hope to achieve this summer, by closing with a tune that comes immediately to mind: Saturday In The Park” of Chicago band fame. So join me in experiencing a festive filled summer for yourself as well. Just click on the video link below. I invite you to also listen to this entry on my podcast, “Snippets of A Traveling Mind” on Spotify. 

Elvis: Beyond Mortal Status

It’s not how much you have that makes people look up to you, it’s who you are.“ (Elvis Presley)

Has Elvis Presley really left the building as the saying goes? At least that thought seemed to be on my mind as I watched the much anticipated Elvis movie last week on the big screen. For in addition to the Elvis hype of the movie, I’ve seen my “fill’ of iconic Elvis moments at various Las Vegas casinos, his Mississippi birthplace and Memphis Graceland Estate on our road trip visits that convinces me of his “larger than life” status in rock n’ roll music around the world then and now.

Yet I must admit as a past band member myself and world traveler, there’s a deeper human side to explain the rise and fall of Elvis’ fanatical stardom that began when he recorded his first musical hit at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee on July 5, 1954. So I’ve compiled in the following paragraphs some personal reflections about Elvis the person beyond his extraordinary rock n’ roll legacy and how they might directly relate to future improvements in our future travels.

1. Elvis’ Color Blind Mentality

In the film, Elvis’ music arose from a wide diversity of musical styles played during deeply segregated 1950s times.For he consciously resisted prejudicial pressure against those who believed his act to be wrong for America by embracing such music legends as B.B. King, Mahalia Jackson, as well as the Beatles in his later times. So I could use such timely advice as a road tripper and world journeyer by acting more assertively to find common ground with “locals” who might confront my wife and me in “red” states like Alabama, West Virginia, and Idaho because of our politically different ways.

2. Elvis’ Team Evolution

In the mid 1950s, the film clearly illustrates that Elvis’ popularity as “The King of Rock n’ Roll” exploded during each nightly performance as a charismatic solo artist. In fact, however, he never actually wrote original music for any of his songs. Know as well that as Elvis grew older, his later performances in Las Vegas took place on a grander scale as more polished set lists in sync with an orchestral stage show setting. Thus he became increasingly interdependent with those comprising his team of musicians each night to sustain the high energy performance that the audience expected of him each night. Thus given Elvis’ need to become more than a solo act, might I also be more  receptive to the idea of delegating more responsibilities for planning our vacations to my wife and respected travel agencies now.

3. Elvis’ Worldly Outlook

It’s quite obvious from the movie that the Elvis’ rock n’ roll craze exploded with world wide appeal. Yet because of the questionable booking arrangements of Colonel Parker to profit from Elvis’ night to night concert “grind” back home in the U.S., Elvis never realized his long desired quest to travel and perform overseas. So as I ponder with apprehension my current dilemma about how to manage current family and medical challenges that require extended time spent in South Florida, I must overcome such fears and remain committed to venturing independently with my wife to new places outside my city, state, and. country,

4. Elvis‘ Addictive Ways

Life on the road playing the raucous rhythm and blues style music that Elvis loved grew more difficult for him over time. For the late 1960s and beyond presented him in the film with a new spirit of protest in each performance as the MLK and Bobby Kennedy’ assassinations, Civil Rights violence on the streets , and the escalation of the Vietnam War weighed heavily on his mind at the time. Compounding these stressful issues, mounting problems in Elvis’ relationship with Priscilla would lead to the end of their marriage in 1973. To mask such inner pain, Elvis’ body thus began to wear down on the road. His once slender figure now became bloated from poor eating habits while his drug- alcohol misuse would sometimes slur his speech or cause him to stumble around awkwardly on stage. Very simply, it would thus behoove me to consider Elvis’ decline in his physical condition as a “wake up” call. For while I might enjoy a “good night on the town” in day to day travel in sensory indulgence, it’s simple not worth it at this stage of my life to abuse such freedoms from a health perspective.

5. Elvis’ Financial Woes

Who would had ever thought that a famous musician like Elvis Presley would be depicted in the movie as hopelessly in debt due to outrageous expenditures at his Graceland Estate and unfair royalties contract with his booking agent, Colonel Parker during the course of his musical career? Thus, it would be wise for me to be more mindful about when to invest our time and money in this present era of information overload concerning desired places and modes of travel. I must particularly read the fine print more as to fees allotted to commercial entries that advertise travel extras such as time share gift bribes, untrusting booking arrangements, and credit card fraud activities.

In addition to these movie depictions I’ve reasoned about the popularized “King of Rock n’ Roll”, take a long look at the Elvis photo set below. How then does his legacy both in music and beyond measure up today? In what ways?

Elvis Birthplace 1 – Tupelo, Mississippi
Elvis Birthplace 2 – Tupelo, Mississippi
Elvis Birthplace 3 – Tupelo, Mississippi
Elvis’ Graceland Home 1 – Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis’ Graceland Home 2 – Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Exhibit 1 In Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio
Elvis Exhibit 2 In Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio
Elvis Exhibit 3 In Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio
Elvis Casino Memento 1 – Las Vegas, Nevada
Elvis Casino Memento 2 – Las Vegas, Nevada
Elvis Presley’s 2022 Movie Portrayal

Homeless Success Story

“It’s never too late to be wise.” (Daniel Defoe)

Have you been thinking lately about those past friends and acquaintances you’ve ever lost touch with over time? But are they really gone? For as the follow story suggests, don’t be surprised if such “deja vu” memories resurface again in your present life either through fate, situation, or chance encounter.

Homeless Success Story

Greg Bowen, a retired English instructor, loved to watch live baseball in the cool indoor ambience of Marlins Park. Yet as he nervously glanced at his watch frequently during both games of the doubleheader on this Friday night, he seemed noticeably distracted. For his experience teaching night classes in the inner city had taught him the dangers of driving such a long distance late at night to and from his home in Fort Lauderdale and downtown Miami. Such worries would soon intensify, when he returned to his car at 11:05 pm. to spot a flat tire for his vehicle at his accustomed parking lot outside a local bank.

At first thought in facing this crisis, Greg hoped to replace the tire himself. But he found his jack unusable and his spare tire deflated of air. So as he sat in his car pondering his other options, the slightest sounds like a dog barking fit or car horn blasts seemed to further put him “on edge.” Reaching for his phone, he did find some temporary relief by deciding to calling AAA , hoping they would send a service vehicle immediately to help him get back on the road. But he soon brooded why it would take an hour or two as he was told on the phone for the the tow truck to show up. So Greg re-considered in desperation whether to seek assistance on his own by walking a few blocks down to Flagler Street in “Little Havana” instead. For in his mind, he knew this was Miami, which meant he’d be taking a risk to leave his car stranded in what might not be considered to him the best area of town.

Nevertheless, Greg proceeded with his new plan. So he walked gingerly to the corner of 17th Avenue and Flagler near midnight, gesturing with his hands in hitchhiker fashion for someone who understood English to respond to his call for help. With a stroke of good luck, he soon noticed a white van swerving wildly into the curb beside him. A young man clad in mechanics clothes quickly rolled down his window to yell out Greg’s former title – “Hey Doctor Bowen. It’s Jose!” Under such unexpected circumstances , an ex-professor and his former student would now reunite with a much greater purpose than just fixing a simple flat tire so Greg could be speedily on his way home.

Understand then that over five years ago, Jose attended Professor Bowen’s College Prep Reading class at Miami Dade College Downtown Campus three nights a week during a time when he lived in his car enduring homeless desperation. It so happened that Professor Bowen took extensive time to help Jose deal with pressures outside the classroom at that crucial time of his life. In particular, he guided Jose to move forward from his enduring plight by encouraging him to read classic literature on his own. Know as well that on one notable student conference occasion during that academic term, Mr. Bowen handed Jose a free copy of Robinson Crusoe, the classic novel written long ago by Daniel Defoe. As the following events ensued in this story, you might say that this first novel which Jose had ever read before, became a definite turning point in his life.

So let’s focus more closely how Professor Bowen helped Jose overcome his homeless plight at the time. For he inspired Jose during their student conference times about how to use Robinson Crusoe and his friend Friday as positive role models for him in the novel who survived Jose’s similar perils of being stranded with lost hope for years in an isolated homeless environment. So during this chance encounter that Friday night, Jose could take some time to proudly report to his former teacher that he now responsibly paid his own way for school and an apartment while holding a steady job in the auto mechanics industry as well.

I too pondered a fortuitous reunion on two recent occasions in my life as briefly illustrated in the captioned photographs below.

I fondly connected last summer with Steve, my former college roommate at the University of South Florida and gifted drummer from a local band I played with” during the 1970s on the road”. Would I embrace my love of live concerts more as result of this encounter?
A few weeks ago on our California road trip, I met my former teaching colleague, Jacob at Broward College for lunch. I will never forget his magnetic chemistry with his E.S.L.students and exceptional technological prowess to adapt his curriculum online.  Might I take a college class again seeking a professor with such exceptional talents?

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