Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Honest couple saves Appalachian vacation

Twice recently I’ve been reminded of Mother’s advice: "Don’t cry over spilled milk." Spilled milk is gone forever, and all you can do about it is to clean it up, forget it and move forward. This morning, I was loading fragile, dry pottery pieces into the kiln and broke a pitcher on which I had sprigged, or appliquÈd, an apple, stem and leaf. I tossed it into the bucket of dry scrap and went on with my work.

A previous "spilled milk" episode happened when my young friend, Amy Power, drove as we toured in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. Our objectives were to visit ancestral haunts in Kentucky and to "put at least one foot on the Appalachian Trail." We chose Redfish entry port, southeast of Staunton, Va., as the spot where we’d visit the trail.

Amy donned the proper gear and walked the trail on Friday morning. I studied a huge, three dimensional diorama of the entire trail from Maine to Georgia at the visitors’ center. Hikers sign in and out there, for safety’s sake; five people signed in when the office opened at 9 a.m. While Amy walked, I visited the unique craft and gift shop, read a bit and was dozing when she returned. I purchased an old Virginia Ham at the shop because I recalled competition from years past about whether Boone County country hams were better than Virginia’s.

A minor problem started as we descended a mountain road that was so crooked and steep that a sign warned, "All vehicles shift to low gear." Hairpin curves on narrow Highway 56 had almost no stopping places, but we smelled the brakes and soon saw smoke. Amy, an excellent driver, crowded to the edge at a curve and stopped.

The smoke soon ended, but we stayed on to have a snack. As I shut my door to go, I spilled cola on the floor mat. I grabbed a newspaper and crumpled it to absorb the mess, then opened the door and sat my wet purse outside while I dried the floor and my shoes. Farther on a sign said, "3/4 mile more ..." We were started back to Missouri with two days of driving ahead and happy that the brakes were working normally.

At the Charleston, Va., motel, my purse was not in the car! It couldn’t have been stolen. An hour later Amy said, "What about that spilled cola?"

"That’s it!" I said. She wasn’t aware that I had set the purse on the gravel at roadside. It was gone. Money, traveler’s checks, ATM card, Social Security, Medicare — everything. I was totally dependent on Amy. "I’ll never see it again," I said. My only hope was that the world was full of wonderful, honest people. I called American Express and gave numbers on three checks I carried for emergencies. Mom’s advice came to mind at once. "Don’t cry over spilled milk!" She would have said, "It’s gone, enjoy the trip!"

On Sunday afternoon, Amy helped me unload, and she looked beyond me and read a note on my door: "Your purse has been found intact, by a nice couple named Dennis and Betty Sutton of Vesuvius, Va., and they’ll ship it on Monday or Tuesday." I called them at once.

In a delightful southern accent, Betty told me, "We drive that road almost every day and spied your purse. ‘Why it’s open!’ Dennis said." The purse arrived in four days.

The world is full of wonderful people; they just don’t always make the headlines!

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