December 16, 2017

A sample excerpt

This  is part of Chapter 4, which is entitled “I am nominated.”

It will give you the flavor of my writing. If you like it, you’ll be pleased it’s the writing style I use in all my books.

Notice something extra, please. At the end of the excerpt, notice an item called Did You Know. It is one of many  such items I have tucked into the book. Most chapters have one at the end–wherever I had room! They are tidbits about Peace Corps that I felt you should know.

Now, here’s the excerpt. Enjoy it.

     Came the date I should report to Peace Corps‘ Staging in

Philadelphia. September 28! I discovered Peace Corps has its own travel

agency. It would give me a plane ticket. I said a train would be more

convenient and probably cheaper. They agreed and sent me an Amtrak

ticket.

       Oh, they also said they would issue me a passport. But I already had

one. ‘Ours will be limited to your Peace Corps service,’ they told me.

‘Use ours all through Peace Corps.. I did that but I took my own along

as well.

Staging is when recruits gather and prepare for departure overseas. I

prepared a timetable for the many things I had to do. I am an organized

person. Something terrible happened. Somehow I miscalculated. I ran out

of time. I spent the last 48 hours without a single hour of sleep! True.

On the evening before my departure, I was frantic. I put in an

S.O.S. to my friend Dale Winchell. He rushed over to help me. He was

stunned by what he saw. So much more to be done. He called his wife

Amy and she rushed over. She worked with us until midnight … apologized

…had to go to work the next morning.

Dale slogged on with me for nearly two hours more—to 2 a.m.—and then

excused himself and departed. He, too, had to get up early. I worked on

through the night.

My friend Rev. Timothy Haut, pastor of the Deep River

Congregational Church and a fellow Rotarian in our Deep River club,

had told me he‘d pick me up at 7 a.m. to drive me to the train. He arrived

on time.

He was startled to see me still packing things. He pitched in. It was

a  frenzy!  Finally,  finally I took a three-minute shower, changed, and the

two of us lugged my two mammoth suitcases down to his car. Peace

Corps emphasized only two! My two were the biggest I could find.

On the way out I grabbed a wastebasket I had packed some

important papers in—it was the only thing available—and carried that

along.

It was 8:10 a.m. The train would pull in at 8:32. We had six miles to

go. Tim looked at his watch, did not say a word, stepped on the gas. We

zoomed ahead. In 5 or 6 minutes, he looked at his watch again.

He glanced at me. “John, it‘s hopeless. We‘ll never make it.”

“You don‘t think so?”

“Impossible.”  He was silent. Then, “I‘ll tell you what. Let‘s relax. Let‘s

stop and have a nice breakfast. We can have a good talk. Then I‘ll put

you on the next train. I think it comes in around 11:15.”

My mind was racing. How awful! I‘d be showing up for the Staging

hours late! How terrible! But…but…there was no other choice.

“You‘re right, Tim. Breakfast sounds good. I‘m so sorry about this.

This is the first time something like this happens to me. I feel awful.”

“No problem, John. The next time we see one another, we‘ll laugh

about it.”

I doubted it but said nothing. Tim had slowed down now and we

rolled on, saying little. We approached the station. We had to pass it to

get to the restaurant Tim had in mind.

“Tim,” I said. “Why don‘t we stop at the station? I‘ll run in to check

the time of the next train.‘‘

“Good idea.” And he turned into the parking lot. It was 8:49 a.m.

We had missed my train by 17 minutes. Straight ahead I spotted a

stopped passenger train. And headed in the right direction!

“Tim! Tim! Look! Maybe that‘s my train! Maybe it is!?”

He put his foot to the pedal…drove right up to the train … stopped

just 15 feet short! People were getting onto the train. I jumped out and yelled up to them. “Is that the Philadelphia train?”

Nobody paid attention. I yelled a second time.

A businessman looked down at me. “Yes, it is!”

I dashed back to Tim. He had opened the trunk and was taking out

my suitcases. He had heard!

” Tim, let‘s go! Let‘s go!”

I grabbed a suitcase. He grabbed a suitcase. I grabbed the

wastebasket with my mail.

Somehow I got up onto the platform and ran for an open car on the

train, dragging along that enormous suitcase. A conductor was standing

in the door. I handed my case up to him. Tim was right behind me,

huffing. I took his suitcase, handed it up. I jumped onto the train.

“Thank you, Tim!” I yelled down to him. “Thank you! We made it!

You must have been praying all the way!”

He laughed. “Good luck, John! All the best! Write often!” He

headed to his car. Then looked back. He was smiling. “Good luck! Take

care!”

The conductor motioned me forward. “Good thing our train was

late, my friend!” he said. “You made it by a whisker.”

He led me to a seat, stacked my suitcases in a corner, checked my

ticket. I dropped into the seat, pushed my head back, closed my eyes,

tried to calm down. “Thank God!” I thought. “Thank God!”

I felt the train start. We made up the lost time and got to

Philadelphia on schedule. Before pulling in, I asked the conductor about

a taxi.

“I‘ll have a Red Cap waiting for you. He‘ll get you a taxi.”

I took all my mail and papers out of the wastebasket and managed

to stuff them into a suitcase. What to do with the wastebasket? It was a

beauty. It had been a housewarming present. I left it by the door as I dashed out.

Maybe somebody would give it a good home.

~ ~ ~

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