Saturday, June 21. Huntington, Indiana. Parade Day/Rest Day.
Checked out of the local motel after having spent a night in a room with DNA samples on the wall. Now I am no germaphobe, but that was a bit much even for a road-doggie of my considerable experience in unusual overnightings.
Met the Amity Masons at the High School's parade staging area, spot #63 at around 9:00am. As 'Pigbike' wouldn't fit anywhere on the float, it was agreed that I would ride along side. I met Brother Bob Crispin and his lovely wife as we were preparing to begin the parade. When I told him my motel story, he graciously offered me the opportunity to spend Saturday night in his 'shed'. (More about that later...) Over 120 units were part of Huntington's Heritage Days Parade. It is my guess that well over 20,000 spectators lined the parade route. Here's something very cool that happened. The pick-up towing the Lodge float carried Masonic banners as well as a large American flag. Along the mile long parade route, as our float approached, men would stand, remove their caps and small children would rise from their blankets, stand and put their hands over their hearts. I have a wonderful picture of two small boys saluting the flag as we passed. The moment was SO All-American MAGIC that tears welled behind my Ray-Bans. I snapped a moving photograph of those boys. (Note: I have given up on trying to send photos from the road. We'll work out the bugs for the next ride. When I get home, I will turn the blog and the photos into a powerpoint and make the CD available by request.) Having ridden the parade route in Huntington, my belief in the fact that Americans love America has been revived. Therein lies our Nation's strength. I wish I saw more of that at home in Cleveland. Take a look around Progressive Field during the playing of the National Anthem. Many in attendance leave their backward caps on, and a whole bunch don't even bother to stand in respect. Sure, it's a free Country, I just wish there was a law against ignorant disrespect for our flag and all she represents. We could all learn a great deal from those two little boys in Huntington. And as for promoting the Special Olympics, thousands of people saw and read my t-shirt billboard as I rolled through the streets. I hope the impact of my uniquely presented marketing message will help to open people's eyes and wallets on behalf of our very Special Olympians.
Following the parade I was invited back to the Lodge for a tour from Past W.M. Roger Dimond. Their Lodge is incredible and it is easy to see that they have spent countless hours on this labor of love. Roger invited me and Lakeshore 307 to return to Huntington in October to be part of their next One Day Class. Sounds like a great reason to road-trip...though next time I think I'll burn fossil fuel to make the voyage. Left the Lodge around 2:00pm and headed for cover as a nasty thunderstorm was rapdily blowing in. Found a dry spot under the overhang at the local supermarket, Marsh's. Had the classic bicycle tourist's lunch of a couple sandwiches, yogurt, a banana and some Cheesy Poofs. As I was waiting out the rain, a white car pulled up and a man jumped out and ran to share my dry spot. He introduced himself as local Pastor Joe and he wanted to bless my bicycle and my trip. I thanked him profusely and he reached into his pocket, fans open his wallet and starts pulling out money. I assured him that in spite of the fact my bicycle now looks like a gypsy traveling wagon, I was financially solvent and I appreciated the offer and it had touched me deeply. He handed me his card and bid me to e-mail him with the news of my successful return home. Amazing folks in this town called Huntington...and there's more.
Walking past a 'Dart-the-Balloon' game on the Midway, a handsome young man called me over. Expecting his b.s. hustle, I was jaw-dropped when he told me, "Hang on a sec, lemme get you something." He handed me two icy cold bottles of water and just wanted me to know that 'carnies' often get a bad rap. He wanted me to know, "That it ain't all like that. There are some good people here." In fact he told me that whenever he sees a kid in a wheelchair go by, he calls the kid over and GIVES the kid a free prize off his table. Nice guy. More...I had a little more time to kill until I could leave for Brother Crispin's as he wasn't going to be home until late afternoon. Bike pushing around, visiting a really neat art studio in the old train depot, I ran across an older gentleman who took a great interest in my travelling rig. His name is Carlton Sprague, he is "eighty-something" and he still rides his one speed, balloon tire bike almost every day. We parted company and about fifteen minutes later our paths crossed again and he had a map of Huntington, that he figured I 'could use'. He showed me exactly how to get to Bob Crispin's place and then leaned into me and asked. "How are you set for money? I've got more then I can ever spend. Now how much...". I cut him short and assured him I was flush but was very much obliged for his offer. I shook his strong, thin hand and headed out of town to Bob's.
The five mile ride to Bob's was my first time heading east and it was grand and glorious not to have a headwind roaring in my ears and trying to push me backward. Arriving at the Crispin's beautiful farm, I was welcomed inside like a long, lost friend. Warm conversation and clean laundry. In a bicyclist's world, that is a fine way to spend a Saturday evening. Around 10:00pm, Brother Crispin and I adjourned to his back porch and we spoke of Masonry. I hung on every word that this 40 year Mason had to impart. He helped me to realize how truly special it was to be a Freemason. I really do have brothers EVERYWHERE ! There will never again be a time when I feel alone on the road. Thank you Brother Bob. Thank you Amity 483.
Turns out Bob's "Shed" was his hunting cabin just off his barn. Seriously Five-Star accomodations in the life of a bicycle tourist...alas no WiFi, hence the delay in this posting. To close tonight...(Forgive the syntax...), Huntington, Indiana good place...VERY good place. I will return. Peace