Saturday, June 8, 2013

SACCer Bill Fairbanks: Walking Across America (Richmond, Virginia)

A street marker at the corner of Chamberlayne Ave & Brookland Park Blvd. Richmond, Virginia where I began walking this year. 

Many of you know our friend and long-time SACCer, Bill Fairbanks, has been walking across the country. He took time off during the winter but is back, walking again. We meet up with him in Richmond, Virginia. If you would like to follow his daily updates, please contact him to get on his list at


Bill's Daily Update

Daily Update: Wednesday June 5, 2013

 It seems to have been a long layoff since I last walked on October 26, 2012. I had hoped to began earlier this year, but various issues continued to surface so we didn't leave Los Osos until May 19. We then attended the graduation of our grandson, Matt Irons and his girl friend Elizabeth Kopaskie, from the University of California during the week of May 20 before heading east. Along the route we stopped to visit some friends and relatives.

 Today I began walking where I stopped last year, the corner of Chamberlayne Ave. and Brookland Park Blvd. in Richmond, Virginia. I continued north on Chamberlayne (U.S. Highway 1) for about three miles. This neighborhood was an interesting mix of stately old homes and reasonably new, perhaps 1980s, brick apartments that looked to be in good shape. There were reminders of a gentile past such as the street makers in the picture, and a Presbyterian seminary. By 10:30 a.m. beggars had already taking their positions at the intersection to solicit money from vehicles stopped at red lights on Chamberlayne and Brookland Park Blvd. As I walked north a reasonably well dressed middle age man was striding briskly toward me. He gave the appearance of a man walking for exercise. When he reached me, he stopped to ask if I had money for a meal. Youths and the number of handicapped people I saw indicated this neighborhood was not as gentile as it appears.

 Yesterday we had to get our Ford Flex serviced in Richmond and after that Carole went to a quilt shop while I got a haircut. A Black woman gave me the haircut, and when I told her I had walked up the Jefferson Davis Highway last year, she said she wouldn't go into that section. When I mentioned going by JJ's Restaurant & Lounge she said she was once convinced by a friend to go to JJ's. They asked her how many piercings she had. She replied her ear piercings were the her only piercings. Next she was asked how many tattoos she had. When she said "None," she was told this was not the right night for her to be here. She said she has never been tempted to go back. I didn't tell her I also walked along Hull Street.

As I walked today, I wondered what she would have said about this section of Chamberlayne. On Chamberlayne I passed a nice (from an architectural standpoint) elementary school. It appeared to have been built in the 1920s and the building seems to be well maintained. After passing it, I thought I should have asked the principal to comment on a statement we heard on the television set in the motel's breakfast room this morning by a Congressman ( I didn't get his name, which house or his party) who asserted the primary problem with schools is working mothers. He seemed ignorant of the complexities of the interrelationship between families and the success of children in schools. For example, parents of either sex may not be able to assist their children with home work, motivate and insist their children take responsibility for their homework, and help their children develop behavior patterns that keep them out of trouble at school, etc.

 Later today as I walked north on U.S.1 (now the Washington Highway), I was walking on a four lane road with no shoulder and high grass abutting the roadbed, I saw a crew from the Department of Transportation coming toward me mowing the weeds. When I passed them, one of the men, stopped and told me I should be walking on the other side of the road. I told him pedestrians should always walk facing traffic. I mentioned that law enforcement officers who stopped to see if I was OK, said I was doing it right.

The man then said I shouldn't be walking at all. I should be teaching people the Bible! Interestingly, he had no knowledge of the depth of my understanding of the Bible. My initial thought when leaving him was I will leave that to people who know the Bible better than I or who are more ignorant of it than I. Then the anthropologist in me came out and I gave some thought to ignorance. Anthropologists look at traits that permeate cultures from top to bottom. Could ignorance be one such trait? A congressman and a transportation truck driver. How is ignorance encouraged and rewarded in the U.S.? As Americans I would supposed we all speak from ignorance, at least occasionally.

 It was a great first day of walking, sunny with the temperature around 80º F., Chamberlayne was flat, and the Washington Highway gently rolling. The lack of shoulders in places was my only problem, but they were manageable. I walked 14 miles and even stopped at a coffee shop.Yes, a great day.

Bill and Carole Fairbanks

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