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Micks Corner

Bicentennial Insanity

Mick Fleming on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 11:31:00 pm

It was in the summer of 1976.  I was a young teacher in a prep school in New York and was four days into a 30-day school tour of the United States--14 high school kids in two Ford passenger vans. Another teacher and I had organized the 8,000-mile road trip as a Bicentennial experience for our relatively well to do students. One traveler’s father was a famous New York banker who arranged to get us onstage during the 4th of July show at the Grand Ole Opry. I didn’t like Merle Haggard or Minnie Pearl and most of the kids considered it cruel torture (“we could have been at Opryland!”), but none of us will ever forget that afternoon sitting in church pews in clear view of the huge audience, slightly behind the performers. Well, one kid may forget it because he fell asleep during an especially long Roy Clark ballad. I’m pretty sure it was about a horse and a woman, or maybe a pickup. A hundred other adventures ensued over the following weeks: rain the first 12 days in a row, red ant attack in Iran, Texas, sleeping on the red rock formations under the stars in Moab, sending the kids off to explore the French Quarter on their own, Hollywood, Sedona, 50 yard line in Nebraska stadium, White River Junction, an everything store that sold guns, baby furniture, alcohol, prescription drugs and authentic tacos in the attached café. A month and many adventures later, we got home safely from this crazy trip. As my fellow chaperone put it: “It was great! Nobody was hurt, sick or pregnant.” P.S. 5 years later, the banker mentioned above helped get me my first job in chamber work.

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