Jan 25 2010
09:49 am
By: WhitesCreek

by Ray Collett

Hello Readers, I received an email the other day from our Classmate Chester Taylor. Chester is a regular reader and contributor to "Rockwood Memories" and it is always great to hear from him. Here is what Chester had to say.....

Here is a story of something that happened to me in Rockwood while I was home on leave from the Marines.
I had come home for Christmas from Puerto Rico for 15 days leave. I was going to hitch hike from Camp Lejeune to Rockwood. (around 500 miles coming the old highway US-70 most of the way) However it was really cold and all I had to wear was summer clothes. I had put all my winter clothes in storage while I would be gone Puerto Rico. I finally had to go to the bus station in Jacksonville, N.C. and catch a bus home. I arrived in Rockwood sometime just after mid night. I though of getting off the bus at the corner of Gateway and Dunn St. but it was snowing and I did not want to walk in the snow form there to Evans Heights. So I thought I would ride to the bus station and get a cab back to where Virginia and her mom lived. Well wouldn't you know it. NO CABS that late. They closed up at about 10;00 pm. I had forgotten that I was not in Jacksonville N.C. Where the cabs run 24/7. So now I had to walk all the way from the bus station to Evans Heights
When I got to the small store near the corner of Chamberlin and Dunn St. (at one time it was called Johnson,s Grocery) I went up on the porch to get out of the snow and have a cigarette. I lit up and leaned back against what I thought was the window. I had not noticed it when I came up on the porch but the window had been broken out! I fell into the store!
I did not know what to do. I knew if I just left and went home they would follow my tracks and figured I had broken in. So I went inside and called the police. I could not get an answer in Rockwood so I called Kingston. They called Rockwood on the police radio and sent a car to the store. The policeman took me home because he knew I had not broken in.
I checked the following day and they said they had followed the tracks in the snow and when they went into the house the guys were sitting at the table with all the stuff from the store spread out in front of them. Mostly cigarettes, candy,chips and gum.
If I had gotten off the bus at Gateway and Dunn I would not have stopped at the store and would have missed all that. But then there would not have been a story, right.
We have a couple of pictures we took of Virginia I. I did not realize how much of a tan I had until I saw the pictures. I had been in Puerto Rico for about four months and spent most of the time outside. This would have been in 1962
Can you believe I use to hitch hike home about one time a month. I was only late one time getting back. A buddy had the duty that day and he held off on turning in the roster until the last minute and I made it just before he had to close the books. I was coming back off a 96 hr. pass. Really had some strange things happen while hitch hiking. Would not try that today. I would be scared to get into a car with anyone crazy enough to pick me up now days
Different place in time
Thanks Chester, that story sure brings some memories of my Navy days. I was stationed in Norfolk, Va. for three years and every weekend that my ship was in port and I had weekend leave "out came my thumb."
Hitchhiking over 500 miles each way on a two lane highway was rough, but worth it. A few times three of my "shipmates" from northern states would come with me. One of us would stand on the road hitchhiking and the other three would hide in a ditch until a car stopped. Then we would ask the driver if he could take us all. Usually they would if there was room. The shipmates loved Rockwood so much that all three married local Roane County girls. I could write a whole book on my hitchhiking experiences.
That will do it for this week, a reminder "Ms. Roxie McClendon will be celebrating her 107 birthday at Victorian Square at 2pm. Saturday Jan. 30th. I was asked to include this in my "Rockwood Memories" so if you get a chance come by and join the fun.
Until next week , keep the emails coming........Ray

"Rockwood Memories" both volumes (yes there are two) can be gotten at "Shacks", O'Those Were The Days Antiques", Gail Score's "Western Wear" in Rockwood and in Harriman at David Webb's "Rocky Top General Store."r

Thanks Chester for the memories...

As Ray said, you made me think about my leave days from '64 to '68 from the Air Force. The one prior to my '66 deployment to DaNang and the one coming back a year later were the most memorable...naturally!


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