2012.11.07 Momma told me not to go

Written 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.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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