November 12, 2018

I got an email from one of the teachers with the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program conducted at a nearby parish, seeking a substitute for last Monday’s two-hour Intermediate II-level class. I taught in the Arlington Diocese Catholic Charities ESOL for three years after I quit working. I stepped away from it a year ago, but stayed on the substitute list.

ESOL textbook

I didn’t have anything pressing Monday, so I said I’d take the class. The teacher sent me her lesson plan. She then added a jarring note: only one student had attended recent classes.

I got to the classroom, at the parish school. I leaned against the door frame, waiting, and chatted with the woman who teaches the Beginner course in the next classroom, as her five or six students trickled in. I looked at my watch, 7:10.

At 7:20 Maria showed up, apologizing. She rides a local bus, which was stuck in heavy traffic today, as it is every day. I introduced myself—the substitute. She smiled, adding that she’s been the only student for a couple of weeks.

I gave her some textbook exercises, practice forming the future tense in simple sentences. She answered them all correctly. I added a few on the whiteboard. She got them all right, too. Grammar isn’t why she’s here. The next exercise is more practical: open-ended questions to prompt conversation. She mentioned her two daughters, both with college degrees, who are urging her to buy a laptop. Her pronunciation is passable, but with an accent she’ll never lose. Like the accents of my Appalachian-South relatives.

Maria isn’t a typical ESOL student. Most are new to this country, most are young and struggling. Her English comprehension reflects her 30 years in the U.S., allowing for life in a Hispanic community that defaults to Spanish out of familiarity or cultural loyalty.

One student—seems to undermine the argument of advocates of a compassionate immigration policy that Hispanic people are working hard to equip themselves for life in the U.S. But in the final weeks of my classes, attendance typically dropped from 15 to 20 students to between five to 10, sometimes fewer. This class went the same way.

Why the gap between the theory and the real? Because life intrudes. In my three years of teaching I guess I saw a couple of hundred immigrant adults resolutely sign up for English classes. For the first few weeks they show up with their new textbooks, dictionaries, and pencils. They thank me for the free notepads I hand out.

Then things happen. Some students have young kids who get sick. Many work long hours at exhausting low-level jobs, often far from home. They drive old cars that break down. Like the rest of us, they battle rush-hour gridlock. For some, the sense of being an outsider in a sometimes cruelly prejudiced work culture is a soul-wrenching grind. That over-the-horizon goal—a better job, the confidence that comes with language skills—can seem unreachable. And some fall away from class, maybe only for a semester; others retreat into nearly closed communities of those from their native place who for many reasons never assimilate. Some are deported.

ESOL doesn’t ask students about immigration status. Some are illegal, a challenge for the Catholic Charities lawyers. Others struggle alone to comply with the opaque procedures for obtaining a green card.

Many persevere. They finish their courses, move to better jobs and greater personal and community stature. And who are the immigrants? Unless your ancestors lived in tepees and huts on the plains and in the forests of North America, you’re descended from them. Your name may be Gates or Jobs or Bezos or Trump, but you came from immigrants. Those border arrest and detention statistics that alarm some of us also should prompt one contrarian thought: millions came from Ireland, Italy, Germany, Poland, China, elsewhere. They became us—you and me.

ESOL doesn’t rationalize illegal border crossing or take sides in the grim politics of immigration. But while the feds threaten to deploy 15,000 Army personnel to face 4,000 hungry women and children hoping to seek legal asylum, ESOL and similar programs nationwide offer a solution to this human crisis—language and communication skills, the foundation of education, employment, and, ultimately, pride in being American.


At Prince William

November 5, 2018

Alex met me at the strip mall parking lot along Route 234 in Montclair about noon. It’s a popular spot for jumping off to run Prince William Forest Park trails. Across the highway is the intersection with a fire road that, about half-mile southbound into the park, becomes Burma Road.

We trotted across 234 then onto Burma, set our watches, and Alex took off, as he always does. He’s got 11 finishes in the Hawaii Ultrarunning Team (HURT) 100-miler as well as multiple finishes in such races as the Fat Dog 120-miler in British Columbia, Cruel Jewel 100 in Georgia, Massanutten Mountain 100, an exotic ultra in northern Greece, and others. I like to say that’s because he’s 20 years younger than me.

The photo below shows Alex and another friend, Amir, who runs with us when he’s in town.

The first half-mile down Burma is level and easy. You can then cross a footbridge over Quantico Creek to pick up the North Valley Trail, which in five miles takes you around to a spur up to the park visitor’s center. Or stay on Burma, which climbs gently for a little less than a mile to an intersection with a paved road, Scenic Drive, the main route through the park.

Today we stay on Burma and continue south on Taylor Farm Road, still an easy trail with a few rolls to it. Alex by now is a dot. I’m starting to feel loose. I don’t have those fast-twitch quads, so I take a while to get up steam. But I’m working on my stride, figuring out whether to extend to move a little faster, or pace myself to have some moxie for the return.

In a little less than a mile on Taylor Farm we turn west onto Old Black Top Road, the crossbar of a T-shaped course that would give us a modest seven miles. These are no

Alex & me with Amir

mountain trails, but I know my conditioning is shot. The road trip Sandy and I took (earlier posts), interrupted by doctor’s meetings and biopsies, meant almost no running for close to eight weeks.

Old Black Top, still a fire road, is a nice piece of trail, especially today. A mild breeze sweeps yellow and red oak and maple leaves onto the soft surface as I move at my codger’s pace. I feel a little thickness in my chest, the penalty for being out of shape. Or it could have something to do with whatever I’ve got growing in there.

Still, I feel great. For those who do it, moving smoothly along a woodland trail is an exquisite, spiritual pleasure. Most of my trail running is solitary, either because I usually go when others can’t get away or, in organized events, I fall behind the field. I like it that way. The silence of the woods, broken only by footfalls, is the reward.

Sandy gets nervous when I’m out by myself,  worried about me falling, getting lost, or attacked by a bear. On solitary runs on rugged Massanutten trails, just south of Front Royal, I’ve heard my cellphone buzzing as she futilely sends messages where no cell signal reaches. But the forest is a chapel, the trail the center aisle, the solitude transcendent.  Some of those treks have taken me six hburma road photo4820000116587515953..jpgours plus three hours’ drive time. I guess I’m done with all that.

Old Black Top takes you around a couple of bends and up gentle climbs. The “T” course gives you the up-tempo cardio that in theory reinforces the strength-building of long mountain slogs in the Shenandoahs, the Massanuttens, or on the Appalachian Trail, that serious trail runners need. In theory. Still, the fire-road trails demand more energy than running neighborhood streets. And today I feel the extra drain on my stamina, what stamina I’ve got left, even at the slower pace.

I recall feeling the same back in the spring, when I resumed running after laying off for six weeks to recover from three days in the hospital in late February. I landed there after finishing a long mountain trail event, down with rhabdomyolysis or “rhabdo,” caused by muscle waste inflaming the kidneys.  But I bounced back quickly and hustled to get ready for the Cruel Jewel 100-miler, a tough run in northeastern Georgia in May. I got 80 miles at CJ and felt good about it.

Today I can tell I haven’t bounced back. I ease off my pace, shorten my stride, work on breathing. I recall how good it felt when back in June, only four months ago, I finished a 50-mile night race on these same trails and was ready to go again within days.

The westbound cross of the “T” is a mile out and back, so I meet Alex streaking past after he makes his turn, we yell encouragement. I steam on, make one more turn and see the concrete marker for the Oak Ridge Trail. Passing the marker, you’re as good as finished with the “out” part of Old Black Top.

I make the turn, feeling good. On the return the trail dips slightly and I lengthen my stride, feeling a breeze as I pick up the pace. It’s a fast mile back to the intersection and I push hard past it, then head east toward the Turkey Run campground. I feel the chest thing still nagging. There’s Alex again, heading back now, half-mile ahead of me. We high-five and he’s gone, and—I admit it—I slow down. We’re not racing, after all.

In a way, we are, or I am. I need this slog. I’m moving well, the woods is flowing by, the trail a hazy vision through brilliant fall colors. The not-so-secret truth about these things: keep moving, never stop. A sudden spasm of pain rises from my stomach. I slug some water, then slug more. I wheeze a bit and let up. I’m back on the downside of Burma Road, heading for the bridge. From there, two more turns and a gentle climb to the gate at 234.

When I ran tough trails three or four times each week I flew over these fire roads. Things are different now. Highly unlikely I’ll be attempting Cruel Jewel’s Dragon Spine next May, as I hoped to just a couple of months ago. That’s tough on my ego. But it’s a dose of brute reality. After all, the joy of existence is in recognizing its nature, and its creation. That is, recognizing God’s defiant presence in our lives, whatever our lives mean to us, maybe in a sudden flash of understanding, maybe on a forest trail, somewhere, anywhere.

I see the 234 gate coming to me. Another small finish, another task completed. I settle into a slow, then a still-slower jog, savoring the physical rush, but then taking in the lesson hidden in the quiet of the woods: keep moving, never stop—persevere, face the pain and doubt, complete the mission, reach the trail’s end.




Down to Greeneville

October 28, 2018

Greeneville, Tenn.  So—why did we decide, just Friday, to drive eight hours to Greeneville, Tennessee, for the weekend? For sure, the nightmarish news from Pittsburgh and South Florida made it seem like a good time to head for the lush, gorgeous mountains of East Tennessee. And with surgery looming in ten days, it would be our last change of scenery for a while.

But also—there’s an also. Sandy and I needed a break from the intense perversity of Republican campaign muck. Unfortunately, we were reminded that the poisonous stew that is today’s political culture has roots extending deep in history.

The fourth “E”

While 15 states have cities named Greenville, only Tennessee has “Greeneville.” The city is named for Nathaniel Greene, a general in Washington’s army who never lived in Tennessee.  In 1784 North Carolina, which included much of what is now Tennessee, attempted to cede its western counties to the federal government. Delegates from the region petitioned Congress to admit several counties to the union as the State of Franklin. The movement failed and North Carolina reasserted control until Tennessee became a state in 1796.

Greeneville folks touched us with hospitality and warmth. The pastor’s homily at Mass at Notre Dame parish was eloquent and thoughtful. Parishioners met us with heartfelt openness.

Yet like most places, Greeneville preens its history, even the dark side, entangling local boosterism with a glib tapdance around the political culture of the Old South. We stayed at the General Morgan Inn, an elegant place in the heart of downtown, such as that is. The inn is named for Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, who between 1862 and 1864 led a small command that fought ferocious engagements with Union forces in East Tennessee. On September 4,1864 Morgan was discovered by Union troops at a stately home in Greeneville, now called the Dickson-Williams Mansion, which stands next door to the Inn. The story told is that while shaving he noticed the soldiers approaching through a window. He was shot as he ran for his horse.

In the telling, Morgan becomes a dashing, colorful hero. We took the hour-long tour of the mansion, which included the bedroom where he spent his last night. Mounted on the bedroom wall is the razor he is said to have used shaving.

Dickson-Williams Mansion

Even more prominent in the city’s self-advertising is President Andrew Johnson, the 17th, who lived in Greeneville before and after his political career. He rose from running a tailor shop to become a U.S. senator, Tennessee’s governor, and Lincoln’s governor-general of the state from 1860 to 1864. When Lincoln was renominated in 1864 by the National Union Party, the Party, not Lincoln, chose Johnson, a Democrat, as his vice president.

img_20181028_1128413571413488048362403121.jpgJohnson initially supported Lincoln’s policy of magnanimity towards the South. As President, he sounded the dog whistle of “state’s rights” that enabled Southern state governments to evade federal protections of the newly freed slaves.  Arguing that he was defending the Constitution, he vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which granted citizenship to new freemen. Johnson claimed the Act unjustly favored blacks over whites, ignoring rampant violence against blacks throughout the South by paramilitary groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Thousands were tortured, lynched, shot. In  1868 Johnson was the first president to face impeachment, avoiding it by one vote.

Greeneville, which calls itself “A Presidential Town,” boasts a ten-foot-tall statue of Johnson, an Andrew Johnson Visitor’s Center, his restored home, and a replica of the cabin in which he was born. The area includes the Andrew Johnson School, Andrew Johnson Bank, Andrew Johnson Inn, and Andrew Johnson Insurance Company. The 13-minute video of his life shown at the Visitor’s Center includes commentary by local scholars and academics who heap praise on Johnson as a defender of the Constitution and states’ rights.

Married to a Southerner for 40 years, I get it. These unsettled feelings, created in the tragedy of our history, are complicated. Recognizing that ethnic, racial, and economic resentments still simmer is a noble mission. Exploiting them for political gain is the way of the coward. Overcoming them is a calling of the human spirit.





The Short Straw?

24 October 2018

Nearly a month has shot by since late September when we filed the post, “Final Stretch,” that closed out our Las Vegas-to-Woodbridge, Va., road trip, the nine-day slog we never intended to make. Medical things have incredibly bad timing. To allow anyone now reading this to avoid scrolling all the way back to our “Las Vegas” posts, we arrived there Saturday, August 25, turned the van over to our daughter Kathleen, and flew home Monday the 27th.  The next morning we met with a urologist who talked about the “lesion” on my left kidney that showed up in the MRI scan I underwent early on the morning of the mid-August day we left for our On the Road extravaganza.

The radiologist’s report indicated a possible transitional carcinoma. We tried to think it also “possibly” could be something else—not a carcinoma, not cancer, just something, like a freckle, that could be ignored. But now it couldn’t be ignored.

So that was then. A week later I had one biopsy, or an attempted biopsy, which the doc could not complete because the tube from the bladder to the kidney was too narrow for his biopsy tool (enough about that). So he inserted a stent to fix that, and a week later completed the procedure.  The next day we flew to Vegas to pick up the van and resume our trip and our not-quite-carefree posts to On the Road.

The day after getting home the doctor gave us the news: it is cancer. The kidney would have to come out.

Cancer. The disease that happens to other people, including younger brother Bob, who passed three years ago of a highly aggressive strain.

In my case, not a surprise. The nurse practitioner who called us as we arrived in St. Louis told us as much, with her warning that we had to come home for the biopsy. It was in her voice.

I wondered whether the doc watches for the patient’s reaction to the news. We said nothing, maybe shifted in our chairs. He went on: I would need a “nephrectomy” to remove the kidney, ureter, and the chunk of bladder where it attaches to the ureter, just in case the cancer cells have leaked down there.

“Risks for this surgery are minimal, but they exist,” he said. “Injury to other organs, infection, bleeding.” But the procedure is a common one, he added, and after a month or so of light duty I’d be back to almost normal. Lots of people have only one kidney, some are born that way. I’m most likely done with ultra-trail running, though.

We called the kids, my sisters and brother, repeating the doc’s assurances that it’s routine, no worries. I sold it pretty well. Our son Michael, the medical physicist who works with cancer, knew all about it. “You’ll be fine,” he said.

The operation was scheduled for October 15. I had to see our family doctor for medical clearance for the surgery: blood, urine, EKG, chest x-ray. I had been there two months ago when the symptoms first hit. He knows about the trail running, the kidney stones, the three-day stint in the hospital after a bad trail run six months earlier.

“You did everything right,” he said. “You drew the short straw.”

That night Sandy drove me to the emergency room with chest pains. The ER doc ordered another MRI. We finished there around 3 A.M., with instructions to deliver the radiologist’s report to the family doc. The next day he ordered a biopsy of the thymus gland, which is near the heart. A few days later I got that done. Today I feel fine.

Then it got complicated The urologist canceled the Oct. 15 operation because he thought I might consider a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins Hospital. That would mean no surgery. I hesitated and nearly bit on that, but decided against it. After a week of leaving messages, I got through to him to tell him I want the operation. Closure.

Cancer makes you focus. Did I really get the short straw? It’s a metaphor, but I don’t think so. For many, cancer is a path to depression, despair, loss of the love of life. We’ve all heard the tragic stories: diagnosis, surgery, radiation, chemo, ravaging side effects, metastasis, palliative care.

But we’re all on that path, cancer or no cancer. The meter is always running. All those common-sense health habits—eating well, working out—are just a holding action. On Ash Wednesday the priest says, “Remember, man, you are dust, and unto dust you will return.” Nothing about life is more obvious. It ends.

I feel great. This little guy sitting in my kidney will go away. Too bad he’ll take the kidney with him. But after all, I’m 69. It’s not really surprising that things start going wrong. But what do you do about it? You recognize it for what it is: part of life. Something to understand and confront. Maybe a little nudge from the Lord, a reminder that this adventure, this gift of the miracle of life, doesn’t last forever. While it does, we ought to make the most of it.

Our backyard camp

Love those closest to you, love everyone you encounter. I remember wisdom from Thomas Aquinas: “love is the desire for good for the other.” What could be simpler? Make life worthwhile, to yourself, to others, to God.  You still go through the operations and take the pills. But all that is just another part of the holding action.

Forgive the melodrama but life goes on. The kids call, we go the gym, we cook dinner, we go out. For the fun of it, I put up our six-man tent in the back yard, we slept out there. Sandy  is looking for a job. The other day I went for a short run at Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax. Today I coaxed Sandy into a three-mile trail hike at Prince William Forest Park.

I missed a 25-kilometer destination run in Tennessee last weekend I had registered for with three other guys in our local running group, the Lake Ridge THuGs. When I withdrew the race director bequeathed my bib to a local runner named Melissa. Hope she had a great race.


Final Stretch …

We stayed up late visiting that last night in Greer, then slept like babies. We gathered our gear slowly, as Marie and Mike got the kids ready for their classes. He packed them in their carseats and we hugged goodbye and headed for the van. Final stretch. I glanced at the odometer: closing on 6,000 miles since we left home August 17 to start our adventure in West Virginia.


On an impulse, we stopped at Belmont Abbey College, in Belmont, just west of Charlotte. Kathleen graduated from the school in 2009, about a week before Marie and Mike’s wedding. We walked the campus a bit, recalling our pride when we delivered her there as a freshman, taking pictures, talking with staff people. But not for very long. Then it was back in the van, back on I-85.

The timing had worked out just right, we told ourselves. Had we waited one more day in Vegas, as we planned originally, we would be squeezing something else out, maybe El Paso, maybe Austin or Galveston. I reminded myself that the route amounted to giant detours: due south from Williams, Ariz., to Tucson, east to Austin, then south again to Galveston. But it made sense, in a way, because we were determined to see Laura in New Orleans. Then it’s really a straight shot to Greer, and from Greer, to home.

We could have jumped on I-40 in Vegas to I-95 in North Carolina, and finished the trip in three days. But we had that precious week before I get my biopsy results, so did what we could, saw what we could, saw our girls and grandkids; Scott and Barb in Austin; camped out; took pictures; explored—which was the plan in the first place.


It didn’t work out the way we hoped, and we ended with a frantic rush on interstates, grinding our teeth at multiple rush hours, stopping at countless interstate rest stops, gas stations, McDonalds, and Walmarts. But we came close enough. Lots of breathtaking mountains, deserts, fascinating little towns. Lots of Southwestern heat and Southeastern humidity. Lots of interesting food. Lots of interesting bugs.  Lots—and lots—of miles, a total of 6,428 when we pulled into the driveway. Lots of togetherness and memories to hold on to, whatever the future brings.



Final Sprint, First Stage

We didn’t see much of Alabama on the roughly 300 miles of I-20 from Meridian to Atlanta Friday night, and since it was dark, even less of Georgia. I did feel a bit of a pang when we passed Heflin, Ala., not far from the state line, which is the exit for the start of the Pinhoti 100-mile trail run. I attempted the run last year, with Laura and Kathleen as my crew, but dropped out at the 55-mile point. It’s a great event, along the beautiful, legendary Pinhoti trail that runs through Georgia into Alabama. Thinking ahead to the Sept. 26 urology appointment, I guessed it highly unlikely I’d be entering any more 100-milers.

We had planned originally to stop somewhere between New Orleans and Greer, S.C., just north of Greenville, where Marie, Mike (Pius), and the grandkids live. It’s over 600 miles. But after three straight indoor nights, we were tapped out on unpacking the tent, air mattress, etc. More important, if we stopped we’d lose half a day getting to Greer on Saturday.

Nature in downtown Greenville (photo from autumn last year)

So we gritted our teeth and drove. From broad daylight around Tuscaloosa, to dusk in Birmingham, to darkness. We drove and drove, stopping a few times to change positions. Finally: I-285. Atlanta. Then I-85, first signs for Greenville. Then: stop. The Georgia Dept. of Transportation thought it a good idea to repave one lane of both the northbound and southbound sides of I-85 just north of Atlanta, on a Friday night during the dregs of rush hour. As we inched forward, I felt even sorrier for the southbound drivers. Their headlights stretched north on two lanes for miles, behind two monster asphalt-laying vehicles.

Finally we broke free, beneath a mileage sign: Greenville, 113. I gritted my teeth and gripped the wheel and stared down the left lane. 103, 90, 72, 60 miles to go, plus the extra five to Greer.

We pulled up in front of the Pius household about midnight. Mike and Marie were up, the boys long asleep. We hugged and went to bed. Back on familiar ground, and the East Coast, or near it.

Plant a Garden
Plaque at the Falls Park in downtown Greenville

We slept late, then played with the kids. I took Sandy to the Urgent Care for her cough. I got the oil changed in the van. That afternoon I dragged the tent out for the last time and set it up in the yard for the kids. Patrick, the nearly two-year-old, crawled inside. Noah, who’s four, wasn’t interested.

Sunday was another easy day. We went to Mass, then Mike and I watched the Redskins at Buffalo Wild Wings. Marie, Sandy, and the kids joined us as the game wound down. We walked around downtown Greenville, a picturesque mid-size city with a lovely downtown, with comfortable parks, restaurants, and fascinating history. A strong candidate for us for the future—sometime, maybe. Right now, other things to think about.

Rebel Country


Meridian, Miss.

From New Orleans, heading northeast to Atlanta, you can go long or short, although the difference isn’t great. Our now-familiar I-10 meets I-85 at Mobile, Ala., and would sweep you right into the Atlanta traffic nightmare. The longer route is I-10 to just past Slidell, La., where you pick up I-59, which takes you into the heart of the Old Confederacy, near Picayune, Miss., then to I-20 just west of Meridian through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham into the Peach State. We went long. I had to get at least a glimpse of Mississippi.


I visited the Naval Air Station at Meridian on a one-day press junket years ago, but had never really seen the state. Mississippi, to Northeasterners—me, anyway—still evokes tragic images, of the abuses of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the violent civil rights struggles that started long before the mid-1960s. Yet Mississippi’s Gulf Coast booms with economic vitality: oil and gas production and transport, tourism, the Stennis Space Center, and, at Pascagoula, construction of the Navy’s frontline surface ships.


Immediately across the state line at the Welcome Center you get a taste of that other South, the South of the Lost Cause. While the Welcome to Mississippi sign touts the state as the “birthplace of American music,” a historical marker crows pridefully about the exploits of the 38th Mississippi Infantry, the “Hancock Rebels.” The unit served in 1864 under Gen. Nathan B. Forrest, later one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. The Welcome Center clerk unenthusiastically offered coffee, making me wonder if I had “Yankee” carved in my forehead.

The interstate, though, is just an interstate, two lanes of sparse traffic, like any we traveled in the Southwest. I wanted to visit some communities, but I-59, lined mostly with thick woods, has few exits, which are miles apart. We stopped for gas at a stop-and-go outside Hattiesburg. I wanted to continue into the nearby town, but Sandy was dead-set against it. No interest in seeing rural Mississippi. As a native of the Appalachian Mountain South—another world—she has a different take on Delta Dixie.

We pressed on, but I finally talked her into stopping in Meridian, just before we left the state. The city has a well-kept look to it, a busy main street, a Meridian Museum of Art, and the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum. We stepped inside Weidmann’s, the “oldest family restaurant in Mississippi,” an upscale place reportedly famous for its Southern comfort food, including peanut butter crocks.


Meridian is about 40 miles from Philadelphia, notorious for the 1964 murders of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney, a native of Meridian. Four Klan members were tried and convicted of the killings at the federal courthouse in Meridian; three others were acquitted. In 2005, for the first time, the state charged and convicted a Klan member in the killings. The city named part of 49th Avenue after Chaney, and honors him in an annual memorial service.  

Showing my music ignorance, I didn’t know about Mississippi’s claim to be home to American music. Meridian boasts of being the birthplace of Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) an itinerant blues and country singer. Meridian’s 22nd Avenue is lined with gold stars embedded in the sidewalk concrete recognizing famous Mississippians, including Rodgers, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Hartley Peavey, a Meridian native who founded Peavey Electronics, which makes musical equipment.   

I wanted to stay longer to wander Meridian and learn more of its rich history, but the afternoon was fading. We passed on a leisurely lunch at Weidmann’s, grabbed a Subway instead, and headed to Alabama.