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ZAMM Fanatic
2,730 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
On day three I rode past a junky shack, deep in the woods of Alabama, adorned with a Rebel (Confederate) Flag. I mentioned how I fantasized about burning the place down, as the hatred, ignorance and racism displayed by those who still choose to fly this flag, the flag of the traitors to the UNITED states of America, how can it be tolerated in this day and age.

But I did nothing. I had matches but no gasoline, a fantasy but no balls, along with a sincere fear of getting caught.

What I did do was check into a Hyatt motel that night in Columbus. Quite frankly not ANY of the other motels looked....decent. Tired, run down, bad neighborhoods, and a stay at a Hyatt always seems like a treat. And it was.

Waking up on day 4 I went downstairs to the free breakfast buffet which was certainly a notch above the "free breakfast" you get at most m/hotels. In like I saw a couple of VERY young girls, probably high school, both very dressed up. I asked what brought them to town and they said "MSFS interviews" or something like that. No idea what it was.

I sat down at my own table and greeted a very nicely dressed black gentleman, and his wife, at the next. Asked what brought THEM to town and he said that he was a retired educator, and was there to help interview some young people for scholarships to the Mississippi School of Math and Science...MSMS. Ok, there's the acronym.

We chit-chatted a bit,until his wife left, and then he moved over to my table and introduced himself. Sam O'Bryant. His story is nothing short of remarkable.

Sam O'Bryant was the son of a sharecropper, one of nine children, who, until he enlisted nto the USMC at the age of 17, in the middle of the Vietnam war, had never been further than 20 miles from the family home in Greenwood Mississippi.

"We worked from sunup to sundown." "I didn't realize people wore shoes year round, we thought they were just for winter when your feet got cold." Of course, any shoes Sam got to wear were hand-me downs from older siblings.

Shipped to Perris Island, then Camp Lejune, in a class of hundreds of boots, Sam one one of 17 pulled out at the last minute. Instead of being sent to Vietnam in 1966 he was sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for a year of watching the wire and other mind-numbingly boring duties there.

He came back after his "tour" and got employment in a Baldwin piano factory near his hometown, where he met his wife-to-be. She was going to college.

At the age of 27 Sam O'Bryant enrolled in college, and at 31, graduated with honors. He became an educator and worked in the school system, then administrating, until he retired.

I mentioned to Sam how for my grandfather the biggest change he had seen in his lifetime was the farm tractor, which allowed one man to do the work of 100. How for my Father, it was putting a man on the moon, and all that entailed, and all it spun off --- including the semiconductor electronics in whatever device you are now reading this story from. (He made a small killing on Texas Instrument stock, btw).

For me, of course, it's the Internet, putting the sum total of human knowledge (along with a whole lot of bullzhit) available at the touch of a button.

I asked Sam about the biggest change in HIS lifetime. In a round-about way he told me it was Civli Rights.

"You see, from the age of four on , I had to call every white man "Mister," even if he was only 12 years old".

Here this man is, distinguished, successful, well dressed, gracious, polite, well-spoken, intelligent, interesting, with a lifetime of achievement behind him. Not to mention all of the students and other teachers he motivated and helped succeed.

What a contrast," I thought, imagining the (most likely) uneducated, ignorant, racist idiot who likely lived in the Confederate flag adorned shack, probably wearing a wife-beater T and driving a pickup truck with no muffler. With an armory of guns to "protect his-self against them N8ggers!"

The civil rights movement has been set back 30 years or more by all of the racists in this country, coming out of the closet to hate on our black President. Emboldened by Fox news and a Congress determined to make Obama fail at any cost, even torpedoeing the Republican-devised healthcare plan, ACA, which they derogitariy referred to as "ObamaCare" in their efforts to make him look bad. States rejecting Medicare expansion at GREATER cost to their own taxpayers.

I"m not saying the black community, as a whole, doesn't have problems. Representing 12% of the US population blacks commit nearly 45% of all violent crime. But that doesn't entitle me, you, or ANYONE ELSE to be a racist.

For starters it doesn't help anyone ELSE climb out of that quagmire we nowadays refer to either as "the hood" or "the war zone."

Instead, a man like Barack Obama, or Sam O'Bryant are evidence we (all) need to work harder. To instill values in ALL young people, black OR white, that lead them to possible occupancy of the White House, rather than a prison cell.

Or a backwoods shack. (It's OWN kind of prison, poverty, ignorance, hatred)

Had a helluva great ride today. Overcast, drizzle, I suggest everyone buy soybean, cotton futures as I saw tens of thousands of acres of farmland flooded or too soggy to fertlize, lime, or plant. Locals all told me most farmers are just going to give up on a crop this year and apply for insurance.

We're gonna see some seriously higher prices on commodities in the coming year, I predict.

Got the Vespa up to her top speed today, 84 mph on the flats, no tailwind, practically sea level. Not bad with a tall windscreen for a 250cc fuel injected scoot. Hate the kickstand on the damn thing, worthless AND unsteady.

Pictures to follow.

Very Famous Person
9,928 Posts

What a shame. Mr. O'Bryant after all these years and successes. He's still a racist.


384 Posts
Road trip day 4.

I clicked on the link hoping to actually read about a road trip, not an endless rant about everday issues in america.


ZAMM Fanatic
2,730 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
The Road Trip Day 4 Part 2

So it's getting well into the afternoon and I haven't covered nearly the miles I need to for the day. So I take my speed up a notch, I'm doing 68-70 along an empty stretch of Mississippi 2-lane. A few curves but nothing I have to slow down for in the least. I honestly don't remember seeing a speed limit sign; indicative of a lack of attention, right? (Situational awareness)

As I approach a small town I see a car, parked, and TOO LATE realize it's a Statey. Roscoe P. Coltrain, dang it, this will be TWO tickets in under two months. He turns on his lights or starts to move after I pass, and...


The thing is, what do you do AFTER you realize you're "busted?" Slow down to the limit. Give it all you've got and see if you can leave him/her behind. Lord knows a policeman HATES to lose "the game" and will run 90 mph plus to catch up with you, even for doing 10-15mph over the limit. Take a quick turn into a driveway?

I slow to the NEW limit of 45 posted within a few hundred feet of where he was parked. I go through town at 45-50. After all, isn't that his REAL goal, safety, getting drivers to slow down as opposed to revenue collection? i spend, rather WASTE, entirely too much time on my mirrors wondering if he's just biding his time to roar ahead of the car(s) behind me and pull me over.

I also attempt to slow down numerous oncoming cars, giving them the slow down pat. After all, the GOAL is safety, to get drivers to pass through town at a reasonable speed, is it not?

On ahead, I pass an abandoned cotton gin. They litter the south. My memory from childhood is of the loading dock, with ginormous bales of cotton, moved by STRONG black men with big dollies, to sit out. "Smokers", they were called. A bale with a bit of smoke coming out of it, which had to be torn apart, and estinguished. Or smoke itself out.

I met a man on a plane once who had, earlier in life, gone around the south buying up gin equipment and shipping it to India. He had purchased the gin at Lilly Flag, a couple of miles from my house, the source of my cotton gin memories. The gigantic cotton wagons, and tufts of cotton strewn along the roadsides incresing in density the closer you got to the gin.

Nowadays the gins are just a memory. Well,most of 'em. Getting off the bike to take pictures of this one, a guy cme up to ask "What the @#$ are you doing poking around MY property" which led to, "Well of course i'd LOVE for you to take some pictures of me and my families old gin building"

On down the road was a WESTERN AUTO. That's right, a genuine WESTERN AUTO, the source of my childhood bicycles, auto parts and water pumps, all sorts of hardware and folderal.

But not really.

Western Auto was only the first of MANY successful corportions in America run into the ground by greedy corporate owners. No stores remain. This owner REFUSED to paint over the WA sign on his store, despite threat of lawsuit.

"Why did you stop in here?" the young man behind the counter asked.

"Because it said Western Auto!"


Apparently a LOT Of us with fond memories of WA "just passing thru" stop in at this store, near the self proclaimed SWEET POTATO capital of America, which is Vardaman, Mississippi.

Somehow I"d managed to take this SAME EXACT road on an earlier trans-am crossing. Major Deja-Vu...and that restaurant there wasn't very good!

Later, in Grendada MS i had some of the best dad-gum GUMBO I've ever had at Randy's BBQ stand, run by Jeremy and Alethea. (*insert Facebook link)

They were gracious enough to move their sunshade and allow me to take a picture of their BBQ truck. Just wish I'd had room on the bike to take a half rack of ribs "to-go" with me. Best dad-gum gumbo I've had in years.

They were a bit of an unlikely couple, with her having SWORN she'd never move to Mississippi having skiied Vail, Aspen, grown up in Florida, conquers all. And food like that will DEFINITELY conquer any diet you may be on.

Dogwoods? Did I mention the endless dogwoods, all blooming, adorning the South? Driveways lined with 'em. A lot more white ones than the far prettier pink ones.

Somewhere earlier in this Road Trip account I mentioned the Purple Martin houses, both pre-fab and gourds. The martins were swooping and looping around these houses in their daily quest for 10,000 mosquitoes. They sing a beautiful song, I'll make an effort to record it. (Or you can just google it as I'm sure there's already a far superior .wav or .mp3 out there)

And last but not least WADE equipment, a John Deere dealership with locations across Northern MS. A pair of good old boys snapped this photo for me, and like so many others, wanted to know every detail of my trip across America on a scooter, about the scooter itself, it's top speed, where I was headed and came out of, and universally agreeing that America is best seen from the two-lanes, NOT the Interstates.

Of course for me, as a writer (as opposed to a photo-journalist) it's the people I meet in route, their stories that are of greatest import, ARE worth a 1000 words, especially to those who may never be ABLE to trek across this country of ours, those limited by age or infirmity to sititng in front of a screen, or too financially strapped to take the time and spend the money for such trip. In such regards I am truly blessed.

The Indian motel owner in Rogersville Alabama, he was truly within inches of going and buying a bike and riding along with me. I could tell his heart REALLY wanted to come see America.

More rain, drizzle, overcast and gray....and it was still an unbelievably fantastic day, especially when you start out meeting a guy like Sam O'Bryant, who is an inspiration to us all of patience, tolerance, turning the other cheeck, and in the end allowing GOD to fuel our ride, our success, our lives.

News article on Sam O'Bryant

Yeah, and if you don't LIKE the people I meet in route, their stories I convey, and my opinions on America, go read someone else's ride report. Or write yer own. This one is MINE.

Tomorrow --- headed for the Ozarks.

Checking the weather here at 3 am in the motel....CRAP!!!

I guess heading north is my only hope for NOT riding in the rain this entire trip...
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