Story Time

Each new day in our lives begins on a fresh clean piece of white paper, a new tale waiting to be told.

A Little Child Shall Lead Them (Part Two) August 26, 2010

Filed under: STORY — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 1:40 pm

A delicious KFC picnic by a flowing mountain river in Cherokee was the grand finale of our week-long adventure in the Smokey Mountains. It was there on a big rock in the riverbed that Abigail announced, “I’ll just have to endure the humiliation ‘cause I’m goin’ swimming in my panties!” After that, she talked throughout the entire ride back to the coastlands of Carolina.

Much later that night, after she had nearly talked me to sleep, our youngest jumped off the bed and said, “I’m sleeping with my mama.” Jodi told us the rest of the story the next day. Abigail’s bedtime prayer said it all. “Dear God, thank you for our vacation. Thank you for letting our family have such a good time and thank you for letting Gaddy (Ricky) go, but you could have let him stay one more day.”

And so, in this post and the previous one, we have two examples of what it means to become childlike in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Please ponder and add your comments for us to ponder as well. Oh, I just have to add one more. 😮

On the trip up, we made it all the way to Greensboro before visiting a Wal-Mart. Abigail and I made a quick dash through the DVD’s and the toothbrushes and scurried up to the less than 20 items checkout counter. Wouldn’t you believe it? Everyone in Greensboro was buying less than 20 items that day so we rushed over to the self-checkout counters where Abigail started scanning our three items. The machine neither beeped nor chinged. She tried again. Not working. We quickly worked our way through about six self-checkout counters and none of them worked.

Abigail huffed a deep sigh of exasperation and pulled my hand. “Come on, Meem,” she said seriously, “let’s go to where the people are. These machines are too smart for us!”

In each instance, my 7-year-old granddaughter’s childlike faith reigned supreme. She knew what she knew and what she didn’t know was of no use to her. Even in her prayer, she expressed faith and honesty in telling God just what she thought. There was no fear of lightening striking. God loved her and He would certainly appreciate her opinion as well as her thanks for the wonderful vacation. 😮

May our Father help us to turn loose of all that squashes the child in each of us and set us free to believe…to really believe.

 

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Filed under: STORY — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 1:39 pm

The Culprit

There is nothing like spending a week’s vacation with one’s grandchildren to gather pondering material on the subject of childlikeness in the Kingdom of God. Our week was a miracle to begin with, a trip we had planned for years which finally came together in the Dog Days of August, 2010. All together, we were ten family members at diverse ages and personalities and temperaments. Ten in one cabin for seven days. Quite a story in itself. However, Abigail, the littlest child at seven, just happened to be the one who gave me the most to ponder and share with you. I will share this story in two posts because, as my sisters will tell you, I cannot seem to “cut it short.”:o

It was the last night of our vacation and Jodi, Luke, Abigail and I had just returned from a full evening of shows in Pigeon Forge. The Comedy Barn was hilarious but the one that impressed the kids most was The Magic Show. I’ll have to admit that it impressed me as well, especially when the magician made a 500 pound white tiger appear out of nowhere and then assured the kids that only God can do miracles. But our wonderful evening was missing one element—food! By the time we got back to the cabin, our stomachs were growling.

While Jodi rummaged the kitchen for kids’ food, I made myself half a ham sandwich, grabbed my book and headed toward the bedroom, my hideout. Carefully placing my paper towel-wrapped sandwich on the bed table, I proceeded to make my last trip to the bathroom before climbing into the unusually high bed with my book and sandwich.

When I returned, breathing sighs of peace and contentment, I had one foot on the bed railing and one on the floor when I noticed that my half ham sandwich had disappeared. I think I forgot to tell you that there were really eleven of us. Tucker, Jodi’s family shih poo, was having a ball running around the roomy cabin and finding crumbs here and there and everywhere. Alas for me, he was now in heaven for on my bed table, in clear view and easy grasp, was the biggest crumb he had ever found. Now, there was nothing but a paper towel.

I screamed, “Tucker! Bring back my ham sandwich!”

Of course, that tickled the children pink and led into all sorts of discussions about what Meeme would do if the dog actually brought the sandwich back. While this was going on and Tucker was licking his chops, I proceeded back to the kitchen to make myself another half ham sandwich. This time I naively wrapped it in a paper towel and for a woman of fairly average intelligence, I then did a very stupid thing. Again, I placed the tightly wrapped sandwich on the bed table and trekked off to the bathroom. I just wasn’t thinking straight, you see. An entire week of fun was taking its toll on grandma.

And so, I strolled back to the bed table and reached for my sandwich which, of course, was long gone. But this time, I saw two white furry feet scoot under the bed like the white rabbit in Wonderland. This time, I was so tired and hungry that I screamed a four-letter word that starts with a “d” just as loud as I could. While the children sat in stunned silence (the first silence in a week), Jodi crawled under one side of the bed and I crawled under the other side hoping we might actually rescue the sandwich in time. Not so. The menacing look on Tucker’s face and the growl that came from his throat couldn’t have been less frightening than the white tiger’s in the magic show. He had discovered the taste of real food and he wasn’t about to cut his dinner short for anybody.

Slowly, I walked back into the kitchen where lots of still shocked little eyes followed my every move. Interestingly enough, Abigail’s face didn’t look shocked at all. It looked rather, ah…ponderous. As I passed her chair, my conscience in torment because I had not only said, but screamed a “bad” word in front of my grandchildren, Abigail moved her little mouth to the side of her cheek and out came the following words of wisdom.

“Meem, this is a sign. You’re just not supposed to eat a ham sandwich tonight.” Her facial expression and tone added up to “And that’s the end of it.”

I looked into her very serious big blue eyes and replied, “Oh, okay.”

“What are you eating?” I asked.

“Chocolate chip cookies,” she happily replied.

“Could I have one?”

“Sure.”

 

The Scent of Autumn August 25, 2010

Filed under: Author Comments — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 11:46 am

The scent of Autumn is in the air. Have you caught a whiff yet? You may have to close your eyes and wipe the sweat off your brow, but if you concentrate, you will smell it.  Every year it brings an excitement that stirs my sleepy spirit and makes me feel as if something wonderful is going to happen, even though the world is in a state of chaos as it is now. For me, this late summer epiphany says one thing: God is good.

This is a gift God gave specifically to children. I know many former kids, myself included, who depended on this gift to keep them going when times were rough. When we embrace an excitement for the future, we can pull our feet out of the quagmire and move forward. When we can’t sniff the “Scent of Autumn” our inner selves stay forever stuck in the mire though our bodies grow to adulthood. For me, the Scent of Autumn brings hope.

Go out on the porch this evening, my friends, lift your face towards the sky and take in a deep breath. Close your eyes for a few minutes and allow each part of your body to rest. Thank God for the anticipation of childhood. Then, take out a good book or magazine and read to your heart’s content. You will feel better. I promise.

 

Ride, Clyde! August 21, 2010

Filed under: STORY — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 12:49 pm
The day following our traumatic bed adventure, we rose bright and early to explore the hidden city of the ancient Nabateans and later, the Romans. One might be interested to know how one might access a hidden city. I certainly was. There seemed to be no way in but through a very narrow corridor in the rock called, “The Siq.” I don’t know which awed me more, The Siq or the city itself. I could really run off on a million rabbit trails at this point, but I’ll try to stay on track which would ordinarily mean climbing on my camel to “ride, Clyde!” But not quite yet.

As we explored the incredible rose-red buildings which had been carved into the rock from time immemorial, a few Bedoin children followed us around like little puppies…talking puppies, trying to sell their wares! One little girl attached herself to Crystal and Beverlie like a shadow. All day long, she begged them to buy her jewelry and, of course, they did. Whether it was my friends’ shining blonde hair or just my “she doesn’t wear jewelry” look, I don’t know, but the fiesty little girl ignored me, leaving me to the attention of the cutest little fellow. He must have been no more than seven years old. I looked at him early on and asked his name. “Hassan,” he said, “my name Hassan.” From that moment on, Hassan was my shadow, rolling out about four English words like a stuck tape recorder.

“Madam, ride my donkey. Ride my donkey, Madam.”

Most of that very warm day in the dry desert heat, Hassan trailed behind me repeating his line, “Madam, ride my donkey.” Over and over again, I replied, “Hassan, I cannot ride your donkey.” But Hassan had evidently been sent to America to be trained by Donald Trump or perhaps, Zig Ziglar, because he did not give up on his sale. Finally, I decided there was no other recourse than to come right out with it and give Hassan my real reason for not riding his donkey.

“Hassan,” I began, “I cannot ride your donkey because I am too fat and I would hurt your donkey.” There! The truth was out. I figured he would take one “real” look at me and another at his donkey and walk off in search of another client less weighty. Or, even better, he would say something Southern like, “You are not fat, Madam. Donkey be fine.” Neither phrase came out of his little mouth.

Madam,” Hassan assured me soberly, “my donkey strong! You ride my donkey!”

That was not what I wanted to hear. I’ll let you think about it.

As Hassan had assured me, the donkey was very strong.

PS: The little beast of burden faithfully carried me eastward through the winding city streets and into the prefecture of of Hassan’s cousin, Nabal, the camel driver who spoke more languages than I can name. Gene Brooks was waiting astride his trusty ship of the desert while learning about the removal of the Bedouins from Petra only twelve years earlier.

Rudene Kennedy, Crystal Odom, Beverlie Brewer and I mounted our own rather interesting beasts and Nabal led us through the Portal of Teman (Door of Hope) to the more outstretched portions of the city. My dear camel only stopped once and that was to drink a coke. Not me, the camel.

By the way, camels are very strong, too.

 

BUILD A BED? August 18, 2010

Filed under: STORY — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 12:41 pm

(Sadly, RT was not on this trip. His presence always makes things more interesting and, of course, more enjoyable for me, but this story just had to be included in our traveling aventures. Hope you enjoy!)

 
 

 

Inside the Lost City

Being the leader of twenty people on a journey to Israel is no small task. By the end of the week, I was exhausted. Nevertheless, our days in Israel had been everything we had dreamed and more, and now, nine of us repacked our bags for a three-day jaunt over into Jordan to visit the ancient lost city of Petra, the rose-red city “half as old as time.” We could hardly wait. Touring Petra would be the icing on the cake.

 

 Eight had signed up for the trip but the morning we were to take a shiroot (Israeli taxi) to the Allenby Bridge to cross over into Jordan, our phlegmatic little friend, Crystal, made a last minute decision to climb aboard. We were happy to have her along as she always makes any adventure more adventurous. The problem, however, was that Crystal had no visa which was required to enter the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, particularly from Israel. We soon discovered that one could not obtain a visa at the Allenby Bridge border crossing, only at the crossing up in the Galilee, a two-hour drive from Jerusalem and another two hours drive back down to Amman before we could even begin our journey down to Petra. I quickly did my math and found that before we even got in a vehicle, we were already four hours behind schedule. But we couldn’t leave dear Crystal in Jerusalem all by herself, so we called another shiroot and pulled our luggage out to the curb.

Because we loved Crystal and wanted her along, I thought nothing of the four-hour detour. It was only when the shiroot drove up that I sensed the first clue that the journey might not be a breeze. The driver introduced himself as “Jihad.” Can you imagine a mother naming her son, “Holy War?” Well, the information was a bit unnerving, but Jihad turned out to be a nice guy and so I put my worries to rest.

About two hours later, Jihad delivered us to a border crossing that was right out of the movies. Our panoramic view consisted of a wide, wide desert of sand with a tiny block building set in its midst. I could just see people running hither and thither while machine guns exploded all around. Nevertheless, we said goodbye to Jihad, pulled our luggage  across the hot desert sands and entered the little building safely.

All I recall at this point is filling out papers standing in a little cubbyhole that looked something like a voting booth. I do remember, quite well, being taken into an office in which a very friendly man smiled at me and offered me a seat. And, I do remember that about an hour later, I suddenly realized that he was telling me we had a problem with our visa. Not Crystal’s visa; she was fine. Since I had obtained our visa back in the States from the Jordanian Embassy, I naturally assumed it was perfect and in order. Not so, but not for any reason one might expect. Strangely enough, our group was traveling with a diplomatic visa. One might also assume that a diplomatic visa would make traveling easier and possibly more comfortable. Not so again.

The smiling checkpoint guy had an issue with the reason we were carrying a diplomatic visa. He wanted to know exactly who we were and why we were in Jordan. One does not, he inferred, need a diplomatic visa to visit Petra. Considering the fact that I did not know I was carrying a diplomatic visa, I could supply our interrogator with no answers other than we were just eight American tourists who couldn’t wait to see the city that had been lost for a thousand years. However, since we were believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, amongst ourselves we agreed that our special visa was due to our royalty in the Kingdom of God. We kept that to ourselves, of course.

Throughout the afternoon, the little office began to fill up with various members of our group. Karen offered to telephone her friends in Aqaba who would certainly vouch for our good characters and lack of any manner of plans to harm the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. No spies among us, no terrorists, not even a politician.

In the meantime, my greatest concern was that the vehicle rental agency rep waiting on the Jordanian side of the sandy desert—who turned out to be none other than Mohammed—would leave us, thinking we had changed our minds. But Gene Brooks, the one very handy man in our group, somehow managed to send word to Mohammed that we were alive and well and would join him on the Jordanian side as soon as possible.

While Mohammed patiently waited, we spent another hour in the friendly but persistent border guard’s office and then, out of the clear blue, he said, “Welcome to Jordan! I hope you have a nice stay.” Before we could say, Salaam (peace), Mohammed opened the doors to the 9-passenger vehicle and we crammed ourselves inside. He made ten.

I’ll have to say that the two-hour ride back down to Amman where Gene and Beverlie eventually signed papers for the vehicle and left Mohammed, were quite enjoyable. We were in the ancient tribal territory of Gad who was one of Jacob’s twelve sons and rather coincidentally, the name my grandchildren call my husband. Gad to them is a shortened version of Granddaddy.

We soon discovered that Mohammed (like my friend, Peggy Guthrie) had multitudes of cousins, one of which offered the only lunch menu on the two hour journey down to Amman. With a huge smile, Mohammed explained the culinary delights of his cousins’ restaurant, and while our mouths watered, we nodded in agreement to whatever his plan was. Soon, we were ushered into a vividly colorful restaurant and seated around a table with a gorgeous view of the hills of Gad. Within minutes, our table was filled with all the odoriferous dishes Mohammed had described and we were oohing and ahhing over everything. Famished females must be an interesting sight in the Middle East. We were watched quite closely.

After filling our empty stomachs quite nicely, Mohammed came over to our table rolling a gigantic hookah, offering it to all of us with his friendliest smile. In case you don’t know what a hookah is, I’ll explain. It’s the thing that the caterpillar was smoking in Alice and Wonderland. Remember? I’ve never been quite sure what one might be smoking if one puffed on a hookah but evidently it wasn’t too strong because Mohammed continued to drive us to Amman with no upsets nor accidents.

However, just before we departed—after congratulating the staff on a wonderful meal—the eight women in our group waited turns for the restroom, the door to which was hidden behind a colorfully beaded curtain. I can’t recall which of us entered the restroom first, but from then on, we were eight silly women, laughing and giggling all the way out to the van. There was no commode, just a hole in the floor over which one must straddle or else get no relief. I came home having learned that going to the restroom is sometimes an art one has to learn and that short-legged people have a much harder time learning. On to Amman.

Leaving Mohammed on the street with lots of genuine smiles and thank yous, Gene crawled into the driver’s seat and I rode shotgun with the map in my hand. The plan—my long-studied plan—had been to drive down the King’s Highway to Petra, arriving there in the afternoon while still light. But that was before the four-hour detour plus our detainment at the border crossing. You know, I forgot to take pictures at the border. I will always regret that.

Gene had only driven a few minutes when we came to a decision-making fork in the road. We had three choices. We could take the King’s Highway down through the mountains of Esau to Petra—the idea of which Mohammed thought was rather stupid because darkness would fall early and we wouldn’t be able to see wild animals and such on the small, curvy, isolated mountain road. We could take the Desert Highway which ended up in the same place but traversed the desert rather than the dangerous mountains. There might be a few wild beasts but not to worry. Our third choice was to turn in at the sign that read “Mt. Nebo” and get Moses’s perspective of the Promised Land and then travel the Desert Highway down to Petra, arriving late but with better spiritual insight. Number three won. Experiencing Mt. Nebo was well worth the time.

The Desert Highway presented us with no particularly wild animals but we did cross paths with a few donkeys, dead and alive. And if the King’s Highway was any darker, we would have had to stop the van and wait until morning to travel.

We finally arrived in the lost city (we clearly understood how it got lost) around 10:00 p.m. Our first order of business was to check in the hotel and the second was to get in bed. The day seemed to have expanded like unto the day that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still so the battle could be won. Our battle, however, was not yet won.

The desk clerk greeted us cordially. My good friend, Michelle, who had been living in Israel for about a year and spoke five languages fluently, stood beside me to help with translation if needed. But language wasn’t the problem. The nice desk clerk handed me the keys to three rooms and off we went with our eyes half closed. We opened the doors to our rooms and bid one another good night. What happened next reminds me of that phrase from “The Night Before Christmas,” the one that goes, “When what to my wondering eyes should appear….” We had been given three rooms with one double bed in each room.

 After trudging back down the long hallway and reminding the clerk that I had reserved three rooms with two double beds in each room and another single room for Gene, he informed me quite nicely that I had done no such thing. I had asked for three rooms with a double bed in each room. Much later, I came to the conclusion that the word “double” was the culprit. But at the time, the word wasn’t the issue. Sleep was the issue.

The very gracious argument went on quite a while with me continually explaining that our group consisted of eight women and one man and there was no way we could all sleep in three double beds. That particular problem didn’t seem to concern him at all. Over and over, I asked if the hotel had rollaway beds. No, they had no rollaways. Michelle was at a loss. Her five languages were not helping.

There is no telling how long this “discussion” went on with the members of our group left sitting on the floor in the hallway near the rooms. I don’t know if it was the length of the argument or the problem itself that caused quite a few hotel staff members to gather near the counter and listen. I really hadn’t noticed them until one of them, a rather elderly man, looked at me and said in very broken English, “I bild you bed.” He looked like one big smiley face. Michelle and I looked confused, I’m sure. We must have said something like, “Huh?”

It was obvious that all the staff (the desk clerk ignored this aside conversation) agreed with the smiling fellow. Their countenances were filled with happy affirmation and as he led us back down the long hallway, chattering away about “bild you bed,” Michelle and I nodded, agreeing with whatever the great idea was. Anything would have been great at that point.

Literally, within minutes, the guy and his cohorts built enough beds for all of us to sleep in. To this day, I am not sure, but I think “build a bed” takes the place of rollaways in Jordan, perhaps the entire Middle East. Anyway, if you end up over there with no place to sleep, ask someone to build you a bed.

More to come on our Petra adventure…..

 

 

 

BEDS and BUGS August 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 10:35 am

Although my heart longs for travel, I do not want to go where no man has gone before, at least not geographically speaking. My preference would be that others go before me to prepare the way. And by that I mean that I want a nice hotel with lots of amenities, a good restaurant, and air conditioning everywhere I go. I do not want to camp nor to “rough it” in any way imaginable.

Once upon a time, I was into the camping scene enough to introduce our children to the world of nature and its blessings, but at some point through the years, my desires changed and I lapsed into the worldliness of a spoiled, aging American. And I love it. No one can make me feel guilty; not even my mother, were she still here.

There have been times when I was disappointed in traveling conditions, of course. Once, during an extended stay in the Cleveland, Ohio, area, RT and I were forced to spend the night in a low cost hotel chain which I will refrain from naming. We were in Cleveland preparing for RT’s kidney surgery. On days he didn’t have to undergo medical tests, we drove around the southern side of Lake Erie to see the sights. This particular night, we were headed back to Cleveland from a delightful trip up to Put-in-Bay (pronounced Put-en Bay), a small island accessible only by boat. The island itself could be traversed only by bicycle or golf cart.

We spent the entire day meandering around the island admiring fields of gorgeous wild flowers and quaint houses, some with widows’ walks on top. At a very fine vineyard and winery, we got a double treat. Along with other tourists, we descended down, down into the earth into the coolness of the Crystal Cave, the world’s largest geode. The crystals glowed, reminding us of the old movie, Journey to the Center of the Earth, not the new one.

Obviously, I’m off on a rabbit trail, but I forgot to tell you the most amazing experience during that trip. We arrived in Put-in-Bay from Cleveland as the sun was sinking and we were almost out of gas. However, because RT was extremely tired, we checked into a small hotel overlooking Lake Erie (though not from our room) and I left him there while I drove to a station to fill our empty gas tank. Before I could step out of the car, the entire world about me was suddenly filled with some type of insects that I could only guess were locusts. I am not exaggerating. The numbers were of Biblical proportions.

As I stood with the gas nozzle in my tank, it became obvious to me that I could not open my mouth or it would instantly be filled with the invading swarms. The bugs made a noise that might not have been very noticeable had there been only a few insects, but we are talking about thousands, no, millions of the rather large brown, bug-eyed, screaming bugs.

I sneaked back in the car somehow managing to keep the locusts out and slowly drove back to the hotel with the windshield wipers going full blast so that I could see. Bugs were splashed here and there and everywhere, making room for millions more to attack the glass in front of me which wasn’t a good thing for someone who didn’t know where she was going. The sky was raining big brown bugs. Finally, I arrived at the hotel and sneaked into the room with the invading enemy in pursuit. There is no way—unless you have experienced it—to tell you how apocalyptic this event seemed.

We somehow rested in the night and the following morning, RT went to the lobby to ask someone why we had been attacked by locusts. On the way, he saw that workers were sweeping gigantic hordes of dead brown bugs into mountainous piles in the parking lot. I have, at times, been accused of giving the amplified version, but this time I am not exaggerating in the least. However, whatever they were, Moses must have arrived just in time.

The clerk informed RT with a laugh that what we thought were locusts were just May Bugs (it was June) and that they invade Put-in-Bay only one day, once a year. Then, they die. Now back to the unclean hotel.

The pillow cases had obviously not been changed since dirty people stayed in our room. RT said something like, “Oh, don’t worry. It won’t kill us.” I said, “I’m calling to get clean linens,” and I did. Gradually, I let myself fall into the interesting book I had taken with me rather like Alice falling into Wonderland. After that, I was able to get some sleep and that was good because I was going to need it.

 

 

Brotherly Love? August 12, 2010

Filed under: STORY — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 3:11 pm

Traveling from North Carolina to New England in the peak of Autumn color every few years, RT and I had zipped through the City of Brotherly Love many times. However, we had never explored Philadelphia; hadn’t even stayed a night in the most historical city in the United States. Sad to say, but true.  And so, the day came when we said this shouldn’t be, jumped in the van a bit earlier in the day than usual, and set out for Philly via Havre de Grace, Maryland.

The small coastal town of Havre de Grace had become a favorite stopover for RT and me. Crawling with history, water, boats and good restaurants, it’s a great place for a one night stay or a few days of interesting browsing. Surprisingly, our favorite eating establishment is a small Italian restaurant near the Interstate rather than the great seafood places near the Bay. It’s called The Olive Tree, just in case you make it to Havre de Grace one of these days.

The following morning we were up and at ’em about 9:00 a.m. (Getting up at daybreak is not one of RT’s idiosyncrasies and certainly not one of mine.) And I-95 is not my favorite road to travel, but in case you haven’t noticed, it’s impossible to avoid the constantly reconstructed highway if you need to hurry north or south along the Atlantic coastline. We zipped up the crowded interstate and before long it was time for me, the navigator as well as head of reservations, to call for a hotel. We made a good choice. Our seventh floor room overlooked the Delaware River at the exact spot William Penn made landing in 16 hundred and something. What’s more, the hotel was within walking distance of the oldest section of Philadelphia, a delightful area of brick streets, pubs and historical houses.

Our cuisine experiences in Philadelphia were quite wonderful, but since this isn’t exactly a travel guide, I’ll get on to the rather odd part of the story. Because we had enjoyed the trolley tour in Boston a few years earlier, we decided that would be just the thing to do in Philly. We would get the history from the tour guide plus have the option to get on and off the trolleys as we pleased.

Just in case you travel to Philadelphia for the history, let it be known that quite a few historical sites are not open on Mondays, possibly all of them. Therefore, we gazed at the outside of Betsy Ross’s house for a few minutes and then sat on a bench and waited for the next trolley. But when we realized that Christ Church was just around the corner, we left our bench and experienced a very enjoyable half hour or so in the old church and cemetery.

After that, we did the Asian woman thing again and I followed RT down a long, long street to see where Benjamin Franklin was buried. I longed to go in many of the buildings along the way but this was just before we started treating cell phones as little Buddhas and there was no way to let sprinting RT know where I was. Breathless, I finally caught a little glimpse of old Ben’s grave as RT came back through the wrought iron gate.

Thank goodness, we caught the next trolley and found seats on top with a wonderful view of the city. Our guide was a small nervous seeming woman around forty, I’d say, with a baseball cap on her head. As we rumbled along over cobblestone, brick and asphalt, she shared details of Philadelphia’s history that I doubt one would read in a history book. It seems she knew all the ins and outs and ups and downs of the city’s long history, including a scandal or two.

We were on our way out to the zoo when the trolley driver pulled over to the curb of a very busy street, vehicles packed bumper-to-bumper. Instantly, our little guide flew down the steps and nearly ran a few feet down the street and into a bar. That was when the driver got on the loud-speaker and informed us that she would come right back. She didn’t. Not in five minutes, nor ten, nor twenty nor ever. Like the guy in the old song about Charlie on Boston’s MTA, she never returned. We had been abandoned in the City of Brotherly Love.

One might guess that our fellow tourists grew rather testy during this time and they did. Some were downright angry. For some reason, the driver defended the guide profusely and refused to call the trolley company until he finally had no choice. My memory is fading but I think we were given the choice of continuing the tour with another guide or calling it a day. There was no mention of getting our money back. In the end, everyone voted for another guide which called for another fifteen or twenty minutes of waiting time. All-in-all, I think we sat at the curb at least an hour, maybe longer.

Eventually, we rumbled off down the street with our new tour guide, a guy, who didn’t share as many interesting details as the woman but was enjoyable nonetheless. Considering the female guide’s antsy actions and her obvious magnetic pull into the bar, I can’t help but wonder now if her stories had any truth in them at all.

Hmmm….