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Day 112 - Tuskegee and Beyond

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last night was a little chilly to say the least. Not extreme cold, but I tried to stay in the sleeping bag. It was hard crawling out when the wake up call came at 6. I packed, and was on the road before 7. Destination today is just east toward Columbus, GA, with the first stop in town for breakfast at McDonald's. It was about a 2 mile walk to McDonald's, and as I pulled up, a guy got out of his truck, introduced himself as Lawrence McRae, and asked if he could buy my breakfast. I had absolutely no problem with that, and soon was enjoying breakfast and conversation with Lawrence and others.

Lawrence is the founder of the McRae Prostate Cancer Awareness Foundation, with offices in Selma and Tuskegee. It's interesting there are more occurrences of prostate cancer than any other type of cancer, but it gets little, if any publicity. I also met Louis Maxwell, Chairman of the Macon County Commission. Finally, I met Alan Gray, Jr. Alan is a former professional baseball player, having played from 1959-1975. He spent some time in the major leagues, much of his career was in the minors. He was also a scout for the Houston Astros for a couple of years. Alan also had some involvement with the DC Sniper case. He was a witness to a liquor store robbery in AL in which the DC Snipers were involved. Interesting guy to talk to.

We took pictures, I told them about the walk, and also told Lawrence about Queen Tate in Selma.....as a possible way to spread the word about his foundation. They also showed me a "shortcut" through Tuskegee. I charged the computer for a while, and then back on the road. (I must have mispronounced Tuskegee at least 20 times. There is a road in Charlotte, NC named Tuckaseegee Road, and every time I tried to say Tuskegee, it usually came out as something between the two names.) Downtown Tuskegee was a little disappointing from what I saw.....there is lots of history here, and lots of pride in the area, but the downtown looks a little run down. There is a beautiful courthouse, but not much else. I headed out of town on Hwy 29 south, then changed to County Road 26 for most of the day.

CR 26 was a nice change from Hwy 80. It is 2 lane, rolling, and almost no traffic. It winds through the countryside, and that's about all I saw. CR 26 is also called Red Road,and it was once the stagecoach route from this area to Columbus, GA. Lots of land clearing along the way, and I was told the area would be replanted with pine seedlings. It was a nice walk, beautiful weather, and little traffic. I hadn't planned to spend most of the day on this road, but it was almost 4pm before I finally spotted Hwy 80. The two roads came together at Society Hill, AL, a small community along the way. There were no stores on Red Road, and I was out of anything to eat. Luckily, there was a small general store in Society Hill, and it was open......unusual for a Sunday in the country.

I bought a few things, and decided to start looking for a place to camp. Down the road a ways from the store I spotted a house with a large field surrounding it. As I was walking up to ask about camping there, a car drove up, and a young woman got out and said she was the daughter of the owner, and would go get him. Her dad came out, introduced himself as Steve Torbert, and said it was ok to camp in the field beside the house. Steve owns a saw mill nearby, but suffered a stroke about a year ago, so hasn't been doing too much lately except rehabilitation. Steve also told me some history of the area.....there's a house nearby that was built in the 1830's, and survived being burned in the Civil War because it was used as headquarters for the Union army.

We talked a while longer and I headed to the field to put up the tent. Just as I was loading everything into the tent, a truck came across the field. It was Steve and his wife Sharon......"would you like something hot for dinner?", Sharon asked. Would I? A hot meal after a long day on the road, and a cold night? Chicken, turnips, corn fritter, and corn bread.....and a diet Dr Pepper. Well, I made quick work of that meal, and then got in the sleeping bag to get warm before working on the computer. The next time I looked at the time it was 230am.......the computer work will have to wait until tomorrow.

About the pictures:
Lawrence McRae, founder of Mcrae Prostate Awareness Foundation
Coming into Tuskegee