Day 491: Rain in Fort Payne

It was a beautiful sunny morning. The green, white, and orange banner atop one of the Emerald Victorian’s turrets floated in a gentle breeze. But Laetitia’s thoughts turned from sun to rain when she read the label on the packet of coffee beans, “Costa Rican Rainforest Blend.” When she walked into the library with a steaming cup of it in hand, she was still thinking of the hundreds of inches of rainfall that fall in Costa Rica every year atop the ridge where the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean air meet. But she needed to plan a tour in Alabama, not Costa Rica.

Fort Payne, Alabama, was the day’s destination. Before going there, Laetitia and her group went to Desoto State Park to hike. Waterfalls and wildflowers are among the lovely natural scenery found in the park. Afterward they went to the Little River Canyon National Preserve close to Fort Payne.

The city of Fort Payne is built on the site of a former Cherokee village. Sequoyah, who invented a writing system for Cherokee language, lived there for a time. In 1830, Major John Payne built a fort there that was used to intern the Cherokees until they were relocated in Oklahoma. The “Trail of Tears” was the name given to this forced exile.

Laetitia’s usual practice was to drop her guests off at their lodging and give them some time to relax before dinner. Then she went someplace, usually to a bar, to write the day’s limerick. She didn’t feel like going to a bar today, so she went to a local park and sat on a bench, where she heard some teenagers talking about two of their friends. In a quirky kind of way, their conversation made her think of her grandmother’s stories about being a college student during the days of in loco parentis, when dormitories were segregated and had house mothers and young ladies had 10:00 p.m. curfews. The present story made her think of in loco parentis with Mother Nature acting as parent.

The cool plan of young Bob from Fort Payne
To make love to Pat in a storm drain
Quite soon was aborted
For, alas, it was thwarted
By a deluge of down-pouring rain.

Day 235: Back Seat Defeat

Next on Laetitia’s agenda was a visit to Oklahoma, the Sooner State. “Sooner” was the name given to people who illegally occupied unassigned lands in Oklahoma Territory, before the lands were officially opened for homesteading in 1889. The tour stopped in Oktaha, in eastern Oklahoma, and visited the art gallery of Jeanne Rorex-Bridges, an artist of Cherokee descent whose exquisite tiles with scenes of Native American life were admired by the tour group. Several individuals bought tiles.

The group’s destination was Hugo, a town of a bit over 5,000 inhabitants in Choctaw County. They spent the afternoon hiking in Hugo Lake State Park. Back in town that evening, they stopped in a local bar for happy hour and, as usual, the bartender was an excellent source of local gossip. His story, which gave rise to the day’s limerick, was hearsay, of course, but he had heard the story in two versions from Mortimer and Yvonne, who were the story’s participants.

The story began when Mortimer purchased a Yugo subcompact. When this product of Communist Yugoslavia was first introduced in the United States, it was an instant marketing success, owing chiefly to its exceedingly low price. The euphoria didn’t last long. It wasn’t a good omen when the car that Motor Trend Magazine was testing broke down. Some authors who review automobiles called it “the worst car in history” and others joked that its owner’s manual included a bus schedule. But the bartender’s story wasn’t about mechanical problems. Mortimer and his girlfriend, Yvonne, were two very large people who still lived at home, and Mortimer’s car was the only place they could go to “fool around.” After the incident that became the limerick, Mortimer traded in his Yugo for a used Cadillac.

Yvonne said to Mortimer, “You go
And take me on back home to Hugo”
His back seat was so cramped
That her ardor had damped
And he vowed to get rid of his Yugo.