This pleasant-looking fellow is Chad. I graduated from high school in Richmond, KY with his older brother, who I never got to know very well as he joined our class in our senior year. It would seem unlikely that I would even be acquainted with Chad, as he came to my high school the year after I graduated. But he was a member of the high school band, and since I couldn’t keep myself from hanging out with my younger friends who were members of the high school band during my visits back home from college, I eventually got to know Chad. We weren’t the closest of friends, but we had a similar sense of humor and a certain weirdness that brought us together. I guess.
We actually bonded the very last time that I saw him, on October 11, 1990. It was five months after he had graduated from high school and we were both attending the fall concert of our high school band. We actually spent the whole time standing in the back of the auditorium and talking, much to the annoyance of the people sitting directly in front of us. Afterwards, we wandered through the reception in the school library, armed with my video camera, and Chad spontaneously fell into the role of host/investigative reporter:
That was the last time I saw Chad. We didn’t really stay in touch, he stopped attending band concerts, and we just drifted apart. It wasn’t until 2007 and the magic of Facebook that we were able to reconnect. We had both drifted a little bit from Kentucky; I was in Louisiana and he was in Nashville, Tennessee. We communicated occasionally via the internet but we could never find the time for a face-to-face reunion; I would pass through Nashville on the way to Kentucky during my annual trips back to the Bluegrass State, but there was no time to stop for a reunion during the course of that 15-hour journey.
But then, I started breaking down the trip to Kentucky into two days, because I was getting too old for that sort of thing. After a couple of years experimenting with routes and times, I found that I could travel from Louisiana to Nashville in 12 hours (including rest stops), spend the night, and then travel at a leisurely pace from Nashville to Kentucky in four hours. No more departure times of 5 in the morning and occasionally violating the posted speed limit in order to hit Lexington at 11pm. With this travel plan in mind, the opportunity to reunite with Chad presented itself, and we would see each other in person for the first time in 24 YEARS.
Google Maps estimated our travel time to be 9 hours and 37 minutes. Factoring in food stops, bathroom breaks and fueling stations, I put the total travel time of 11 hours. I added an additional hour because I had heard from a friend, who had recently traveled the same route, that there were major slowdowns around Forrest City, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee due to road work. I calculated that if we departed Louisiana at 6am, we should get to our hotel in Nashville by 6pm. For Chad, that worked out great, because it turned out that our hotel was a block away from his place of employment that week. It appeared that this upcoming meeting was fitting in nicely with the overall scheme of the universe.
It probably didn’t help that we left Louisiana at 6:30am … only 30 minutes late, plenty of time to catch up. The friendly lady at the Arkansas Welcome Center advised us about the construction zone around Forrest City, informing us of the detours. However, we decided to stay on the intended path, because those alternate routes looked a little too out-of-the-way, the construction zone was ONLY eight miles long, and we would be hitting the area around 1:00pm, when activity was allegedly “low” … so we didn’t anticipate any considerable delays, other than what I had already factored into my timetable.
The FIRST ominous sign came a few miles outside of the Forrest City workzone, when I snapped this photo of the advisory sign in mid-transition … when it was in the process of saying “Road Work Ahead” … and so the sign appears to say “Road Work Chad” …
The eight mile-long work zone around Forrest City wasn’t THAT bad … there was only one point where the traffic came to an absolute stop, at the beginning of the zone, and traffic moved at a steady pace throughout (bumper to bumper the entire way). We made it from one end to the other in about 30 minutes, thereby shaving 30 minutes off of the hour I had added to my timetable. Back on track!
We came to a dead stop at mile marker 61, three miles from the crash site, at about 4:20pm. We could see the flames on the horizon. No vehicles could be seen traveling in the other lane, which meant that they had shut down the interstate in both directions. Maps on the iPhone showed that there were no exits between us and the crash site, and there was no way to safely cross the median to get to the other side and go back (which didn’t stop several from doing so). We were trapped for the foreseeable future.
It turns out that there were TWO tractor trailers that collided and exploded. It was quite the horrific scene. One vehicle was in the median while the other one was still blocking the westbound lane of I-40; the eastbound lane was completely clear.
As a result, westbound traffic was backed up, at the time, for the next five miles, from mile marker 64 to 69. The police were diverting westbound travelers at exit 66, but it was a very slow process. There was nothing that could be done for those poor motorists stuck in that two-mile span between the exit and the accident site, and it would be hours until the westbound lane would be re-opened.
Meanwhile, the universe had spoken. Our arrival time in Nashville was now closer to 8:30pm, much later than anticipated, and definitely much later than Chad’s schedule would allow (considering that he had to be at work tomorrow morning at 3:00am). Our reunion, after 24 years, would have to be delayed …
… by another day. Did I mention that his workplace was a block away from our hotel? Even though the reunion was only 15 minutes long and took up one of his break periods, we did manage to make it over to the Willis Building after checking out from the hotel. And so, we made it after all, in spite of all the obstacle that the universe threw at us.
Alternate titles for this entry were “The Quest for Chad” and “No Chad Left Hanging” … I think the one with the “Scott Pilgrim” reference worked out the best …
Originally, this mortar-and-pestle shaped building housed Bondurant’s Pharmacy from 1974 to 2011. It is quite a relief that the new tenants opted to retain the original shape of the building; I especially like how the pestle has become a swizzle stick.
For more information, here is the entry on Bondurant’s Pharmacy from Jeffrey Scott Holland’s Weird Kentucky:
30 years ago to the day of this posting on Thursday, June 14, 1984, a small group of members of the Model High School Band from Richmond, Kentucky, well-rested after a day of running around Cedar Point Amusement Park, spent the day running around Lakeside, Marblehead, and South Bass Island in northern Ohio. It would be our last full day in the area, as we would be returning to the Bluegrass State on the following day.
This look back on the 30th anniversary of the trip will focus primarily on my favorite images and not the details of the trip, as I have already written extensively on this day in this entry. All of these photos were shot using 400 speed Tri-X film, no flash. As always, click on the image for a larger view on Flickr.
At the base of Perry’s Monument on South Bass Island. The ground was sloping at a sharper angle than the base itself, and so Mr. Stephens said that we all had to lean to the side so that we would be parallel with the monument in the background. Uhm, okay. Photo by Keith Hartman.
As far as I can tell, this is how the same area looked in 2008, via Google Maps Street View:
It’s still a fish cleaning place, but Bomba is long gone …
30 years ago to the day of this posting on Wednesday, June 13, 1984, the Danbury High School Marching Band of Lakeside, Ohio performed at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. Their ranks were supplemented by eight members (technically seven plus an older drum-banging brother) of the Model High School Band of Richmond, Kentucky, who were honoring their half of the exchange program between the two bands, as the DHS band had already visited Richmond earlier in the year for a joint concert.
We came, we saw, we marched. And played. And played some more. And then we were turned loose in the “Amazement Park” for a day of reckless youthful abandon. As is the case during summer in Ohio, a thunderstorm hit in the late afternoon, but that didn’t stop Shay and I from riding the Tiki Twirl at least six times. I also somehow got dragged onto the Corkscrew and forced to sit in the very front by Mr. Stephens’ niece, a tale that Mr. Stephens would remember fondly for years.
This look back on the 30th anniversary of the trip will focus primarily on my favorite images and not the details of the trip, as I have already written extensively on this day in this entry and partly in this one. All of the parade photos were taken by Allan D. Stephens. All of these photos were shot using 400 speed Tri-X film, no flash. As always, click on the image for a larger view on Flickr.
30 years ago to the day of this posting on Tuesday, June 12, 1984, a small group of members of the Model High School Band from Richmond, KY, lead by Director Allan D. Stephens, were in the second day of their five-day adventure in Lakeside and Sandusky, Ohio, preparing for a performance with the Danbury High School Marching Band at Cedar Point Amusement Park. This look back on the 30th anniversary of the trip will focus primarily on my favorite images and not the details of the trip, as I have already written extensively on this day in this entry.
All of these photos were shot using 400 speed Tri-X film, no flash. As always, click on the image for a larger view on Flickr.
Mr. Price, some girl from Danbury High, and Mr. Stephens were among the participants in a game of Trivial Pursuit in the picnic area of East Harbor State Park. In the end, Mr. Stephens came in first place, closely followed by Model High’s very own Shay Quillen, and Mr. Price came in third.
I absolutely love the way 400 speed film captures water.