A legacy from Our Learned Sages

a Thought for the day
Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.

Roman comic dramatist (254 BC – 184 BC)

Note nothing is new; Patience has been an issue through the ages

Source:  http://www.quotationspage.com/

Patience is a virtue; Overcoming feelings of anger, anxiety and frustration is a big step toward solving problems when faced with circumstances beyond control, leading to acceptable outcomes and solutions. With that said, those who know us well as travelers and RVers realize that we are both antsy. We can’t sit still for long, or stay in one place for long either. 3-5 days and we are ready to move on. I admit, at times we do long to put down the jacks and stay awhile, perhaps to get to know an area well, to sign up as volunteers to work camp or just visit long term with family or friends. But we tend to move on–until time stops and is out of our control. 
Our current “residency” is Red Bay, Alabama located in the NW corner of Alabama. It is the birthplace of our Tiffin motor home and we have come to Red Bay for service work and repairs. Our plan was 2-3 weeks at most to get through the to do list. Tomorrow it will be one month and the situation is still out of hand. Parts are promised to be en route, so we sit and wait, working at being patient, calm, cool and (mostly) collected. That’s our current state of mind, knowing we can’t change the situation, knowing we will move on eventually and surviving on the humor of it all, practicing acceptance and sharing feelings with other folks in the same situation.
Patience is learned and we have had a lifetime for those lessons. In the scheme of things, this is very minor and I accept that. It is not health related, we are not in danger and all of our needs are met, even beyond any expectations. The current “camp site” is a bit out of the ordinary. On the coldest days of the year to date, our rig is inside a  huge building and is hooked up to electric and water. The temperature is in the mid 50’s in our place of refuge, the outdoors will go into the lower 20’s. Lo and behold we save on propane for heat, we are hooked up to electricity and city water that won’t freeze overnight. This is the home of McKinney RV Sales and Service and for us, a warehouse with a view.  
The view is not an eye popping lakeside, or vivid blue ocean with a sandy beach, nor a glorious mountain caked in snow, or a forest in full fall color.  The view is indeed quite funky.

 In a building seemingly as long as a football field, it is 1/3 repair bay and 2/3’s inventory and storage. The inventory includes anything and everything that make up parts of a motor home, the ancient, the old, and the new.  Could so vast a collection of stuff be entered on a data base or are the parts located only through the memory of the older members of the McKinney family?  More stuff is stored outside the building as well. What stories must lurk in the history of this place. There is hope and promise that we will only be here 2 more days. Our patience, hard at times, pays off, avoiding displays of anger, abusiveness or giving up hope. It has been a good few weeks in a corner of the country we have not experienced. We visited several museums, galleries, toured the Coon Dog Cemetery, The Helen Keller birthplace, hiked in Dismals Canyons and met more wonderful folks. What a life style we lead. More surprises lay ahead. We are ready.

Looking Beyond Helen Keller’s Story

Helen Keller as we all know is renowned for overcoming severe sight and hearing handicaps devoting her adult life to improving the lot of the disabled. Her name is recognized by millions, her life story is familiar to so many. In a recent visit to her birthplace and museum in Florence, AL, I learned so much more about her family life beyond the classic stories of her growth, development and nurturing by tutor and governess Annie Sullivan.  

Helen lost her sight and hearing at 19 months and quickly became the focus of attention by her parents Arthur and Kate Adams Keller. In that regard, I wondered about the impact of her afflictions on her siblings and the reactions of her 4 siblings; two half brothers, James and William Simpson, sister Mildred Campbell Keller and brother, Phillip Brooks Keller. Did they feel equally loved by their parents or ignored in deference to the energy, anguish and devotion given to Helen in learning to overcome her handicaps.  In her 9th year, she was enrolled in the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA and left her birthplace in Florence. She reportedly did not return home to live after this move.

On the museum tour, the docents highlighted her parents success and wealth, living on a 640 acre plot of land. They touted the continuing success and brilliance of the modern day Keller family engaging in highly regarded careers,  The continuation of the family line reportedly is due to Helen’s sister Mildred with three daughters to carry on.  

Little is known or documented of the lives of Helen’s two older half sibs; James Keller b abt 1869-In 1900 living with cousins and grandmother in AL, unmarried and William Simpson Keller b abt 1876-In 1929 living in Alabama married to Annie, Civil Engineer (Highway) for the State of Alabama. Neither James or William had children to carry on the name. Not unexpectedly we learned that her half siblings were quite affected by their neglectful upbringing, both leaving Florence for elsewhere in AL.  James is quoted as saying “I feel overlooked much of the time with Helen getting all of the attention.”  James is believed to have died young, in the early 1900’s, but the circumstances are unknown.    

Her full fledged sibs were Phillips Brooks Keller b abt 1892-1n 1920 living in TX, unmarried, Civil engineer and sister Mildred Campbell Keller 1886-1969 in Montgomery AL, married to Laban Tyson. their 3 children were: Katherine b abt 1910, Patty b abt 1915 and Mildred b abt 1918, responsible for carrying on the family name. 

William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher said of Helen Keller in 1908, “Whatever you were or are, you’re a blessing.” http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_James
Indeed she was a blessing to many but how often we do not learn of the realities of life and living and the affects individuals have upon one another. I just wanted to share these glimpses into the back stories of a personality we have all come to know and revere. 

The images; the Helen Keller museum and the famous pump, site of the triumph of Annie Sullivan tapping Helen’s understanding of language. 

Coon Dog Cemetary

Tasks on this day; Seeking a little humor and distraction on this day after the election debacle. Seeking sights to see while we wait for service on our motor coach in Red Bay, Al;  trying to see it all as we travel down new roads.

After lunch at Swamp Johns, mentioned in the former blog, we set off toward the Coon Dog Cemetery a few miles down the road we are on. This is certainly a remote part of Alabama and is listed as a must see, worth the drive.  The site is unique, peaceful and quiet and there are no crowds. Paul and I were alone.

The Coon dog is highly regarded in this part of the US and the love of these pets certainly shines in this Cemetery. The first grave was dug in 1937 and took off from there. It is a field of graves, all adorned with plastic flowers, American flags, dog collars, photos, loving comments and a great variety of headstones dating from ’37 to the present. We were joined by a mom and daughter from Birmingham, Al trying to see as many highlights of the area as possible in two days. We talked, suggested places to visit and pranced together among the graves exclaiming over the dogs names, ages at death (up to 18 years old) and delighted with our visit to yet another unique site.

Enough gab, photos tell it best.

Guiltless(?) Eating

Situation; Monday morning, 7:00AM, byline; Red Bay, Al. 
Our Motor Coach is in the repair bay at Tiffin Motor Homes and we are on our own for the day on a search for breakfast in this southern hard scrap working town supported by two major manufacturers: Tiffin and Sunshine, a major brand of dog food. Breakfast choices become a different breed in this town—no bagel shops, coffee houses or upscale restaurants, just a few chains, Subway, McD’s  and 2 down-home southern eateries–Jacks, and Swamp Johns. They have atmosphere with several cars pulled up to their doors. Jacks it was, a shorter drive. 

I studied the menu board long and hard. Two issues, I am a veggie with a small capacity and I harbor a dread of too much salt, sugar, fat and feel guilty when I do indulge.  The counter waitress was very patient with me and I was able to order a listed menu item with caveats.  A scrambled egg plate without meat. Two large bowls were set on my tray, 1 with scrambled eggs, and a bowl of grits in melted butter plus a to die for biscuit which must be made with all butter, hot, soft and tasty. Paul had similar with no meat but his also included deep fried rounds of hash brown. I was determined to enjoy and giggle my way to feeling guilt-free and just have fun. The food was very filling and delicious, the ambiance homey, engaging and rustic.  I managed to bury and rise above my qualms.

We left Jacks in time to take the Tiffin factory tour at 9:00 outfitted with headphones and safety glasses, focused on the tour until 11:15.  The staff set us free, encouraging us to return to any work station, ask questions of the crew while they worked and then tour the rigs in the finishing stations or lined up on the “yellow brick road” just hot off the production line. We learned that our coach has 2 miles of electric wire, thousands of nuts, bolts and latches, and a potpourri of machinery and parts beyond the ability to comprehend. Somehow it all works most of the time. 

Current time; 12:35 pm. To the Jeep to look for lunch. I had apples with me for fall back as we  elected to try Swamp Johns a bit out of town  but arriving at closing time—their hours 5:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Back to the Jeep and skipping Subway, we headed right back to the other home owned choice, to Jacks. Paul had a burger and I ordered another biscuit and loved it with the juicy Braeburn apple that I shared with Paul. I confess, I succumbed (burying my “guilt” once again) savoring a scoop of Blue Belle butter crunch ice cream. Delicious. 

Tiffin repair work stops at 3:00 PM, so we picked up our rig and set up our campsite for the 6th or 7th time with more work time to come. Tomorrow to McKinneys paint shop by 8:00 am for repair work. Breakfast will be cereal on board, Lunch, most likely another battle with my psyche, but I intend to enjoy every bite. Back to exercise and whole grains, yogurt, tofu and my full share of fruits and veggies after our stint in Red Bay. You would be amazed at what there is to do in this seemingly remote spot in North Western Alabama. Off to the local history museum with a special room devoted to their home grown celeb, Tammy Wynette.

Ann Carol Goldberg