No More Walks in the Woods


This post is a follow-up to Who's That I See Walking In These Woods?

In fact, this post might be termed "The Perfect Storm"...a coming together of Eagles, a Pity Party, and the aforementioned post...a trifecta if you will!

And...all on my birthday! Who woulda thunk it?

Mary sends me a message, reminding of the earliest days...the dating days...Julie and Ronnie walking in Thompson Woods at SIU Carbondale. Needless to say, those wonderful days are gone...gone long before this past year. To cinch the moment, who would enshrine those days in song but, yes, a band of Eagles. Yet another song on the "Long Road Out of Eden" album...and how more obvious does it have to get...the song, "No More Walks In the Woods"!!!

So, on this "Party Day"...to put you in the proper state of mind...a suitable moroseness, if you will...get the Kleenex ready. Are you ready to "pity the fool"???


Gotcha! I B Foolin'...

Actually, I could have probably spun a true tale involving all of the above...one of the new Eagles' songs IS entitled "No More Walks In the Woods", but it's an environmental song, the destruction of nature, a tree-hugger song...NOT a lament for parted lovers. And, just as well...the "Pity Party" post drained more than enough emotion to last me for a while! At least until August 24th...


So whassup with this posting?

Just thought I would expand upon the incident described by Mary...

Actually, as I have already admitted...I do NOT remember that incident. However, I DO remember the many, many, many days spent by Julie and I at SIU and its environs.

Since an interracial couple was such a novelty, we latched onto SIU as our stomping grounds. We were still young enough to "fit it"...Julie was "college age" and I was a recent graduate. With SIU having such an international clientèle, we didn't feel "out of place" in Carbondale.

We went to Carbondale two or three times a week and spent many a Saturday and Sunday roaming the campus. Yes, often wandered the campus aimlessly, including forays into the woods. (No Comment!) Didn't spend too much time in the Morris Library...the atmosphere just didn't seem right for young lovers...giggly "teenagers". The Student Center served as our main base...spending hour after hour just talking, watching TV, reading magazines and books...just being together.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong (maybe it's not possible), but I remember at least one occasion when Julie and I walked completely around the lake...on a blazing hot day, at that! (If we didn't, I know we tried!) Julie was in excellent physical shape at that time, no sign of the health problems that would later confront her...but THAT day wore her out! She didn't even want to stop at Giant City on the way home!

Giant City State Park...

(I'm going to repeat my "Editor's Comment"...some of what you read below may have already been posted. If so, well read it again! I'm not in the mood to go searching at this point. Remember, it's my birthday...I'm OLD(er)...have suffered from CRS for years, and it doesn't get better with age!)

Where were we? Oh, Giant City!

I know that previously I mentioned that Julie and I had a favorite pizza hangout...since demolished. That was the place where they had the live band, sang "Rubber Ducky", and waited for streakers. Ahhhhh, the good ol' days!

Oh, and did I mention they served beer...

One of my friends e-mailed me yesterday, making preparations for "The Party"...indicating that she was getting ready to make a beer run...for the "elixir of life" as she termed it, earlier saying that it was a topic "near and dear to my heart". Silly girl...she wanted to know my preference. Okay, I shouldn't call her silly. BUT, she knows me well enough to know that it doesn't make a damn bit of difference. Well...I guess she was being nice...wanting to know WHICH beer I'm drinking "lately". I e-mailed her back...told her to read the "fine print" on the can/bottle...it MUST say "BEER" somewhere on the label!!!

What's this got to do with the story?

Why it's my "digression" of course!

Our pizza place served beer...draft beer...in pitchers. (Actually, they were SMALL pitchers...took two to quench a pizza!) BUT...before you shake your head and accuse me of being an alcoholic, let me explain that I had corrupted Julie Jones by then. As I have indicated before, Julie was raised a Jehovah's Witness and alcohol was not part of her life style. She had led a very sheltered life, not corrupted as I was with "wild college days". (Yes, I did drink in college...sometimes to excess. At SIU, it was a required subject!) When we first spent time together (away from school), it was at a friend's apartment (where my car got run over and set off one of Julie's "jealous rages".) I offered Julie a beer and (probably not wanting to offend Ronnie) she accepted. Boy, was Julie a cheap date! That one beer lasted the whole night...and then some! After a couple of hours, I would offer to get her a fresh, cold beer...but, Julie would say "No...I like my beer warm." Right...

But...somewhere along the line, Julie did acquire a taste for beer...COLD BEER. Maybe it was the addition of pizza...works for me! Anyway, by the time we began frequenting our pizza place in Carbondale, Julie was holding her own in the beer department. I probably managed to come out ahead, but she was a close runner-up.

It is said that God looks after little children and drunks.

It is true! After we left our "pizza palace", we usually headed for Giant City. This was at night!!! Have you ever been to Giant City? The road from Highway 51 to Giant City is one curvy road!

Julie and I went back to Giant City in the daytime during the last year of her life. We stopped at the Quizno's and picked up some clam chowder and a couple of sandwiches after a chemo treatment. The chowder appealed to Julie and we would just sit for a bit and remember old times. (Okay...gotta stop there...I said this wasn't going to be a pity party.)

Anyway...if you have visited Giant City, you know the road is NOT one that a person should drive who has been drinking. (In a previous post, I touched on this subject, but indicated that since I was a teacher, I couldn't/wouldn't go into the details. Well, hell, I've retired...that's what this party is all about, so here goes!) It also doesn't help the driver if a certain young lady is sitting on his lap, chewing on his face! Wow, memories...

Julie commented at the time (well, after we got home safely) and years later..."You drive better when you are drunk than when you are sober!" Ain't proud of it...and one of the reasons I will take my friends' advice and WALK to the birthday/retirement party...but actually true. It was probably a matter of being "scared straight"...the abject fear of being pulled over and winding up in the headlines of the local news!

Back to Giant City..."lover's lane" for Julie and Ronnie.

We went on many a picnic (in addition to our nighttime forays.) There was even a park ranger who adopted these two silly kids. Can't for the life of me remember his name. (I remember a military recruiter that Julie dubbed "Officer Petty", because his rank was "Petty Officer". But...can't recall the park ranger.) Even though this was back in the day, Julie and I were somewhat skittish...who is this guy...why in the hell is he "stalking us". The "clincher" was when he showed up one late afternoon with a watermelon. WATERMELON!!! For an interracial couple...THAT sets off little bells...RED FLAGS! But...he just sliced it up, shared his treat, and went on his way.

Lover's lane...

I shall repeat...Julie and Ronnie did not consummate their relationship until they were married...in fact, the day AFTER we were married. (Told you about those pickle loaf sandwiches for the honeymoon night!)

But...Julie and Ronnie DID engage in some fairly heavy petting. And Giant City was our special place. (Actually, before I go any further, I might add that Julie and Ronnie did NOT give up on Giant City after we were married...made frequent excursions down "memory lane". In fact, there was this one time that we ventured up to the top of a hill and...)

Where were we...

Oh, yes...the petting area!

Ain't going into any details...relive your own lusty life...or buy one of those bodice-ripping romance novels! BUT...

Julie and Ronnie had an "alarm system" during the "dating days". Our favorite picnic site was located (by chance; we didn't scope it out) between two "bridges"...areas in the road that had wooden planks that made a very distinctive noise when a car drove over them. So Julie and Ronnie, lying on a blanket...enjoying nature, would be alerted whenever a car approached. We would pause, gaze into each other's eyes, wait for the car to pass, and, and, and...