The Camping Trip

After watching a lifetime of "Little Rascals" comedys,  I decided that it would be really neat to go overnight camping.   All I needed was a couple of suckers ... uh.. I mean friends to go along.

My best friend in the Spring of 1964 was Jr. Gerwig.  We were both 14 and he foolishly trusted me to show him a great time camping.  (I'd never camped in my life, but if the Little Rascals could do it, how hard could it be?)  Somehow the Bays brothers  came on board.  I knew the Bays brothers from school, and I suppose we had a friendship at one time, but it wasnt real close like me and Jr. because they lived a bit out of our immediate neighborhood.  

Anyway,  I must have talked them into coming along because as it wound up, the four of us rag-tags were the original "Stand By Me" gang.

Dutch Ridge




THE PLAN

Dutch Ridge

The plan was to walk from Capitol and Smith Streets (where the Farmers Market is today) all the way to Dutch Ridge.  I lived on Dutch Ridge as a little fellow,  and in 1964 I really had no idea how far this trip actually was on foot.  Turns out it was 22 miles!  That's the same as walking from downtown Charleston to the Sleepy Hollow Golf Course in Teays Valley.  Doesnt seem far?  Try doing it one step at a time.  For those who dont know where Dutch Ridge is, just go out Greenbrier Street and keep going until you reach the Pinch-Quick intersection,  then go right past Quick almost to Sanderson.  Just before Sanderson, turn up the hill (BIG hill) and keep going ....  As you can see, this was a long trip for 13-14 year old kids.




Dutch Ridge
This is our rag-tag bunch.  That's Jr. Gerwig on the left, Norman Bays in the middle, and Joe Bays on the right.  The point of this story surrounds the bag that Joe is holding.  More on that later.  I took this photo in front of the drive-in "Chat & Chew"on Rt 114 a few miles outside of town. 


Dutch Ridge
This is me and Jr.  Notice the heavy gloves and coats.  It's the first of March, and daytime temps are in the mid 50s.  Night time is still 30s.  We tried to bring enough blankets to keep us warm.  We didnt succeed.



OUR DESTINATION

Dutch Ridge
X marks the spot of an old family cemetery on our old farm. That's where I decided to camp because the tiny cemetery had a fence all around it to keep out any wild animals as we slept.  See, the whole point of all this was to be on the old farm where I had lived at one time., and I could see the farmhouse from this hill.  They have a name for this road now, it's called Tommy Ridge Road, and it's just dirt and mud to this very day.


We made it!
Dutch Ridge
I took this photo of my buddies after we set-up camp in the cemetery.  See the Headstone?  See the radio?  When transistor radios came out,  I never took a step outside my house without a radio. Even on this 22 mile journey, I had it with me.  That night I kept hearing the same song played over and over (at least it seemed that way). "Cast your fate to the wind" was the instrumental, and I never forgot it because it was a somewhat spooky sounding song in the dark.  Also notice the lack of  much anything else in this photo, LIKE FOOD.


Where's The Food?
So we arrived, dead tired and hungry late that evening.  I helped them set up the pup tent and then built a little fire to keep warm for the night.  Then, I asked where the food was so that we could all eat and go to bed.  

Remember that bag I mentioned in the beginning?  Seems like that bag had gotten too heavy for Joe and he TOSSED IT IN THE CREEK about 10 miles back!   Nobody noticed that he wasnt carrying the bag any longer. Maybe he switched to something else after tossing the bag of heavy food.  How he did this without anyone noticing is a mystery.  We had stopped to take a break and eat the sandwich we had brought for lunch.  It was then that Joe tossed the bag.

So there we are, hungry and mad.  But there wasnt a darned thing we could do about it now.  We stayed up as long as we could and finally had to sleep.  I planned for each of us to take turns keeping the fire going for a couple of hours each because it was a LOT colder out there on that mountain than I had realized.  I told Joe to take the first watch since he lost the food, but before I went to sleep, Joe was asleep beside the fire and I could see where this was going. To make a long story short, I didnt feel I could trust these dead-tired guys to keep the fire going, so I stayed up all night long, listening to "Cast your fate to the wind" on the radio and wishing I had never planned this miserable trip.

Hear a bit of "Cast your fate to the wind" here.







So, what happened next?
Dutch Ridge

We were all starving the next morning.  We had walked 22 miles with little more than a sandwich and spent the night without dinner.  The only thing we could do was head out and hope to flag-down a car or truck out on Dutch Ridge, the main highway.  It was a long walk.  

Reaching Dutch Ridge, we walked a bit more when a truck came by and we flagged him down.  We told him our tale of woe and he took pity on us. He wasnt going to Charleston, but he could take us as far as the Pinch-Quick intersection.  There was an old store at the intersection, and when he let us out, he said "come on boys".





Dutch Ridge
The man took us in the store and ordered a hunk of bologna to be sliced and a loaf of bread.  With that we fixed a sandwich each.  We had nothing to put on it, just bread and meat,  but it was the best damned sandwich we ever had!

From that store we walked all the way back to Charleston.  We never spoke of the trip again.

The End


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