2012.11.07 Momma told me not to go

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Randy Newman wrote a song in the 1960s that he and others performed called "Momma told me [not to come]." It was about a boy who went to his first wild party and was shocked by what he saw. 

I thought about that song several times over the last few days. In this case it was about a boy who headed into hurricane ravaged New Jersey and New York City. When I told my mother we were still planning to go east to attend the wedding of Colleen's niece, my mother, in effect, told me not to go.

On Halloween night we finally decided to get going. We were busy packing during trick-or-treat time, so we dumped the candy into a tub with a sign reading "Help yourself. Don't be greedy." We did it out of necessity, but also as an experiment. The results of the study point to this conclusion: If you want to get rid of your candy really fast, do like we did.

We made it to Clarion, Pa., the first night and managed to book a room despite my confused phone conversation with the desk clerk. 

"Would you like a single or a double?"

"There are two of us. Do you have a queen size?"

"We have singles and doubles."

I claimed I couldn't hear her and passed the phone to the driver.

Since we were making good time on Thursday, Colleen decided we should visit a high school friend, Adrienne, who now lives in New Jersey and claimed she was only about 10 minutes off the expressway. She had water but no power and would be spending the night with another classmate, Barry, who at least had a small gas fireplace. 

Adrienne guided us in by phone, but she hadn't driven the route since the storm. It was so dark. There were a few dim lights from houses with generators, but no street lights. We kept winding around roads, going higher and higher and suddenly stopped because of brake lights ahead. A slight problem. There was a tree across most of the road and traffic had to go off to the side to clear it. 

A little while later we had to veer over into the other lane to avoid the low wires overhead. Then we drove with wires and broken poles just outside the window, close enough to touch. That's when I first heard Randy Newman singing: "Momma told me not come. That ain't no way to have fun, son."

We made it to Adrienne's house and toured it by lantern light. We followed her to Barry's house and toured it by flashlight. We received our instructions for driving back to the Interstate and completed the first two legs before we met barricades.

We turned around and started on Plan B, all the while wondering if we were really on the right road. There’s a curious thing about New Jersey: There's a road sign on every corner, but it's only for the side road. Once you're on a main road, you never see a sign for that one.

We stopped at a pizza place to check directions. Pizza places were the only thing open. A woman confirmed our route, chewing on a slice the entire time she spoke.

As we approached New York City, the lanes of traffic heading out of the city were filled with vehicles. On our in-bound side, there were times when we were the only car in sight. Yes, mother, I hear you. 

We crossed the George Washington Bridge into the Bronx and continued to the apartment of another school friend, Kay, who lives in Flushing. We slept on a pull-out sofa that required a lot of shifting to avoid the feel of metal spring against bone, and when Kay's pug ran under the bed making those weird pug noises, it was like wild animals were among us. I felt the pug's back moving along the bottom of the mattress. In the morning when I was still barefoot, the pug sneezed and showered my foot. Did you say something, momma?

I'm about out of space in this little 12-page mini-vacation issue. Let me just say that it was a wonderful trip. Sunday morning we drove past cars lined up for blocks in hopes of buying some gasoline. Despite our foray into deep New Jersey, we had enough fuel to make it back to the short gas lines of Pennsylvania with at least a gallon to spare.

It was good, momma. I'm glad I disobeyed you.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

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