Last April, I visited with Victoria and Mel Small of Murphys. The Smalls followed a dream of walking across the United States-at ages 59 and 61, a distance of 1,500 miles. That was in 1983. I was so inspired by them, I wanted to write a book on their marvelous trip across the United States. At the time I was a feature writer for a local paper and did a couple of local stories on them. With their approval, I wrote three chapters of a book and a synopsis and sent it off to publishers. In those days, it was considered the death of your proposal if you sent to more than one publisher at a time. So, it was a long process over a period of months, send and wait, send and wait for an answer. The noes came in, “we’ve done that before…” “what is different about this trip…” “that’s already been done..” “we don’t have room for a true life adventure this year…” etc. etc.
Victoria is now 90, and Mel is 88. They were still running 4 miles a day at ages 84 and 82. Than they gave in to walking around the neighborhood. More importantly, they’ve decided to put their many walking and running adventures into a book. Last April, I suggested they get the journals typed, and yesterday, I edited their first manuscript. They insisted that my name should be on the cover and my three chapters included because I inspired THEM.
As I re-read their amazing trip across the United States, and I must tell you, not all things turn out as planned, I was moved to laughter and tears once again.
Tears as Victoria, who was a 95 pound wisp of a woman, ran a marathon with a stone bruise on her foot and won in her age category. And rollicking laughter as Mel, who always trailed pace setter Victoria, picked up a pair of kids handcuffs he had found and put them on. Then, he couldn’t get out of them and tried to hide it from her. What a hoot!
One really fun thing about the journals, besides little drawings and maps of Mel’s, he kept statistics, and a potpourri page at the end of a specific goal with listings of how many pennies, dimes, quarters, etc. they found; any other oddment they picked up, how many truckers blew their horn, how many waved, how many offers they got for a ride and so on. But, the funniest category was how many cars were left running and unattended? A good thief could have been rich.
I was enriched once more by my time spent with an amazing couple who can continue to inspire me and others with their book.