The seventh of seven blogs
HERE COME RALEIGH
Raleigh also likes to tell of his trips up the Amazon River when in the Merchant Marines. To young ears, listening to his fish tales was convincing enough to believe that he was surely one of the world’s great fishermen. In retrospect, that might have been an exaggerated conclusion.
.Consider this story!
While traveling up the Amazon River, he baited a large hook with a chunk of meat, tied a rope to it, and threw it overboard. It caught a fish so large that it broke the rope when he tried to get it on board. I realize that there are big fish in the Amazon and he didn’t elaborate on the rope size so I guess that I have no reason to question the accuracy of this tale. However…
Raleigh was single during this time. Ruby, whom he later married, contends that Raleigh made enough trips up the Amazon that he reportedly became mighty friendly with some of the natives, of the female gender-no evidence reported that he left behind any little Raleigh’s. This tidbit might carry the same amount of weight as does the accuracy of his fish tales. Nevertheless, it made for entertaining evenings while sitting around a campfire.
Raleigh had a special place in his heart for youngsters. He would not knowingly allow a young person to be abused or bullied. He told the story of being on a ship with a young deck hand that was bullied and mistreated by an older sailor. The boy tired of it and so did Raleigh. He cautioned that if the bulling continued that he would put a stop to it. When this was ignored and the mistreatment continued, he poured a jar of pepper sauce over the bully’s head which put an end to the harassment. His eyes were filled with pepper sauce which caused considerable discomfort. Raleigh recalls that the last time he saw the sailor he, when they reached port, was being escorted from the ship by medical personnel.
Reminiscences can continue indefinitely but one thought leads to another and space is limited. Raleigh is certainly worthy of having his name associated with the access area on the river which he crossed countless times as he operated the ferry over the Tombigbee.
Incidentally, after growing up, I left the house on the dead end road and ventured all the way to Searcy, Arkansas, where I graduated from Harding (College) University. After seven years in Arkansas, in 1965, I moved back to Walker County, Alabama, and held an office in the county courthouse, where I was the officer in charge for the Alabama State Board of Pardons and Parole, until my retirement in 1998.
I have been privileged to have traveled to many countries in different parts of the world. I have seen places that I, as a country boy, never expected to see. The adventures that Raleigh mesmerized us youngsters with have taken on a new meaning. There is a big world out there which country boys like myself could never have imagined while growing up at the end of the road in Big Ridge Alabama.
I can now better understand the motivation behind Raleigh’s wandering lifestyle. In my travels, however, I have yet to find that message, “Raleigh was here,” scrawled on a wall in a foreign city, maybe Kilroy erased some in order to make his own announcement. I am aware that the chances are good that Raleigh got there first. Maybe there were those at that time, in the Amazon or elsewhere, who would proclaim “Here comes Raleigh”!