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[American Story] 【整理】SENEWS-2008-0223-FEATURE On The Road (4)

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An hour later, good soil was being spread by men in big machines, men who were not used to working for free. They were working for free. I stood there in watched. By noon cement had been poured for a tennis court. Before the sun went down, a basketball court was done. Many people worked all night. On Saturday morning, a crowd of several hundred people came to work, black and white, old and young. They planted trees and grass, and made paths, and places to sit. By Sunday afternoon, the park was finished.

I went back there more than 20 years later. In the shade of the trees, which were now very tall, people were sitting and playing in the park. I thought back to the weekend the park was built. A black man had looked around and said,”This is the best thing that had happened since I came to Reno.”  He did not mean the park itself. He meant building the park.

In that first year on the road, I fell in the love with my native land. I rode the Wabash Cannonball train through Indiana. I rode the Delta Queen paddle wheel steamboat down the Ohio River. I rode the cable cars up and down the hills of San Francisco. I spent time among Pennsylvania Dutch farmers in Cooperstown, Pennsylvania and Greek sponge fishermen in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I met MC Pinkstaff, the roadside poet of Gordon Junction Illinois. At his store, he sold gasoline for 39 cents a gallon and his poems for 10 cents a piece. That first year, I produced 47 stories from 23 states, all of them my own discoveries. The biggest discovery of all was about myself. On the back roads of America, I felt at home at last. I knew I wanted to dispend the rest of my life.
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