|A Guitar Ted Productions series|
Once again, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras in use by we tourers in 1995. I will post images where I can, but this tour wasn't well documented in images, so there probably will be very few sprinkled throughout. A modern image will be used only where it depicts things I want to clarify, like where we were in that part of the tour via a map image, or the like.
The "Touring Series" will appear every Sunday until it ends. Look for past entries by scrolling back to a previous Sunday's post, or type in "Touring Series" in the search box to find more. This post is the remainder of an original post which I broke up into two parts. The first part posted last week. This post is also supplemented with new material.
We pick up the story as the tour is stopped in White River, South Dakota where Ryan has asked Guitar Ted to come out of the laundromat for assistance......
I went out through the opening where a door should have been, and here was Ryan with wild, open eyes staring into the face of a Native American who was very close to him, leering over him. The man had long, stringy black hair, he was thin and wiry, and looked disheveled in appearance. The Native American seemed to be pressing him for something. I said, "Hey! What's up?", and the man wheeled around to his surprise to see me standing there. The tone of the conversation on his part suddenly became much more pleasant.
It turned out that he was trying to pan handle us for money, although if I hadn't have come out, he may have just tried taking something from Ryan, who didn't seem to be a match for this man's overbearing countenance. The man seemed to be drunk in my estimation, or under the influence of something, and wasn't too coherent. As I spoke with him I deftly made the correct answers and statements to calm him down. This directed him on down the street without further confrontation, but not before he managed to hurl an insult at a passing girl, which about made her cry. Nice guy!
Well, not wanting to have Ryan have to face that guy if he came back, I took the duty of being the watcher for the remainder of laundry time. As I sat there, I heard the wailing of a woman from across the street, I discerned some of the words she wailed. Apparently, she was pleading with someone to "not go and do it again." Not many seconds later, a stumbling Native American came out and weaved his way to a bar a couple of doors down. The woman's crying could be heard plainly across the street. It was surreal. Like some scene out of a movie, but I was actually seeing this.
After the laundry had been done, we wandered up the street. I noticed something odd- it was a well dressed man approaching us. He seemed shockingly out of place in his slacks, white dress shirt, which was neatly tucked in, and with a nice belt and shiny black shoes. I noticed he had a rather large scar across his forehead. The old wound appeared to have slightly disfigured one of his eyes.
He hailed us and asked the usual, "what are you guys up to" questions. We politely told him what our trip was about, and of course, the lions share of the conversation from our part was relegated to me. So, I engaged this man in some conversation about this strange town. He told me he was a Korean War veteran, and had lived there all his life. That explained the scar, which he had told me was a war wound. He went on to explain that the street had been torn up three years previous to our visit to fix the underlying infrastructure. The city couldn't afford to get the street repaved, so there it was. Dirt!
|SD State 44 near White River, South Dakota. Image courtesy of "Arizona-Gerd"|
We took our leave of him and went to get some groceries, but not until he had given us an idea of where we could spend the evening. He motioned us over toward the way we had come into town where there was an old race track and a large area which was a park of sorts. He said there were pit toilets and to make sure we camped as far away from the road as possible. That way the Native Americans would be less likely to mess with us.
We then headed over to a low, sloped roof wooden structure. It reminded me of a house more than a business building. It was the local grocery store. It was an uneasy place, as the locals, many of them Native Americans, looked askance at us with disdainful looks. I felt very unwanted in this place. We hurriedly picked out some dried food packets, some more oatmeal, and made our way out of there.
After the groceries were purchased, we headed over to the race track/park the man had told us about. We took our spot as far back from the road as we could. Cars were circling through the park on a fairly regular basis, which made us uneasy. While setting up the tent, I decided to check out the bathroom facility there. When I turned the corner in the cinder block building to enter, I stopped short. Glass was busted up everywhere. And to make matters worse, there was excrement smeared all over the walls and floor. Yeah.....great! I ended up squatting along the fence line instead.
The war vet had told us that even as a child the Native Americans and whites were not on the best of terms, but that now it was worse than ever. We went to sleep very uneasily that night. Car lights would make us tense up, and thoughts of violence were on all our minds. My cavalier attitude the day before about not being afraid of the Native Americans was now replaced with an uneasy fear. Morning, and the escape from White River, couldn't come soon enough for us.
White River, South Dakota. A place I shall never forget. That was a really unsettling evening, and I am not sure any one of us slept all that well that night. Thankfully five hard days on the road made it so we could fall asleep despite being afraid......
Next week: Hopes Dashed