Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On the lighter side: My revealing welcome to Roanoke

WELCOME TO ROANOKEEver since Dan Casey, columnist for The Roanoke Times wrote about the welcome Kyle Frazier received in South Roanoke I’ve been haunted by my experience from long ago. Frazier received a nasty note about grilling on his front porch. (Dan Casey’s column Sept. 27)

Well I don’t know if you’d consider my experience a Roanoke “welcome wagon” experiment in 1972 but there is no disputing it was an “eye popper” though unimpressive.

Let me explain: It was time in my young sheltered life to leave the backward city of High Point NC and venture north to the city of Big Lick. Yes, I actually thought I was moving north to a big city so don’t laugh – remember I was young and innocent.

Applying and being hired on the spot at a printing company as a typesetter and layout artist happened quickly on that summer day in 1972. Alas, I then became desperate to find an apartment in a city I knew nothing about.

Using the paper and just riding around (in my loud 1967 butternut yellow hot Camaro) became a challenge. I tried to stick to the main streets – the one that I drove in on. At that time it was Jefferson Street. I became disoriented and was stopped by police not too pleased with the missing mufflers on my Camaro. Since I was from out of State I got by with a warning.

The High Point police were a little more tolerant of loud cruisers. I suppose because that is about all there was to do in Petty country.

Hold on I’m coming (hey that was a song) to the “revealing” part of this story.

Now back to the dilemma of finding an apartment. I came upon a real estate office that at the time was on the corner of Mountain Avenue and Jefferson Street. I pulled up on Mountain and parked. When I began my walk down the hill I spotted a 1963 Plymouth Fury (I knew my cars back then) parking on the opposite side of the street. The driver got out and just stood by the door and in full view did his dirty deed.

He unzipped his pants and “took IT out” as Elaine on Seinfeld explained to Jerry in a Seinfeld episode. It didn’t have “welcome to Roanoke” on it but I got the message as limp and lame as it was. (Get my drift?)

As I looked (yes I looked) I became only annoyed at this interruption in my apartment search. I ignored him and proceeded to the real estate office. This evidently only confused the poor man. I guess I was supposed to run screaming in horror at his pitiful attempt for a reaction.

Leaving the real estate office with no luck finding an apartment – there he was again. Now he was cruising up and down the street as I walked to my car. It was the middle of the day. I made note of his license number and returned to the real estate office and had them call the police. Time I really did not want to waste but I thought he might do this to a child so I better report him.

The police came and took the information and where they could contact me. I eventually found an apartment on Mountain Avenue, moved and went to work. A detective came by work one day with photos to pick from (his face). I picked him out right away. Then this poor detective stumbled and stuttered around trying to get to the point of the “condition of the perpetrators extremity.” It was OK I told him though I was unmarried I had seen pictures.

Coming soon another story about working at The Roanoke Times for ONE day.

ORIGINALLY Posted Oct. 7, 2009

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary

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