Fall Frolic Begins Back to Bike Stories // Back to the Weeville Home Page
The Herald Friday, November 24, 1989
Fall frolic becomes adventure.
My last road adventure of the '89 season was designed to be a three day mystery tour. Only the first day's ride to Spartanburg was planned beforehand. I was looking forward to an aimless frolic where big mileage was not a concern.
On a cool Saturday morning I cruised Highway 322 to McConnells. West of McConnells I became very glad my bicycle didn't look anything like a deer. The hunters were out in force, parked along both sides of the road. I counted four tailgated kills before I got to Lockhart. Many of the pick-up trucks had three-wheelers on board, I guess that's the high-tech way to drag a kill out of the woods.
I crossed the Broad River on Highway 9 and made a right turn into the Lockhart neighborhood where Deedy's Diner is nestled beside the post office. Deedy's in an oasis I never miss for the food and some rest.
On this day Deedy's was packed with camouflaged hunters. When I sat down at the counter, two of the hunters were engaged in a discussion over the edibility of a common catfish. One man said, "It's a good-eating fish."
The other hunter snorted loudly, "There's no such thing as a good-eating catfish. It's nothing but a river buzzard."
I laughed out load with my back to the hunters. There's no end to what you might hear people say. The more I thought about it, though, the more I had to agree. I love fried catfish, but the critter is scientifically a buzzard that swims. With this new "insight" into nature, I finished my hamburger plate and rolled away from Deedy's on a course for Spartanburg.
On all of my previous rides, I had bypassed Highway 9 from Lockhart to Spartanburg. My first trip down the road was fun. I rolled through the hills in moderate traffic and gawked at the changing fall colors. From Lockhart to Pacolet it was a dream ride.
North of Pacolet traffic increased and bottlenecked. This made for some tense moments until I found myself rolling into metropolitan Spartanburg on a comfortable four-lane.
As I wandered around town shopping for the right motel I passed the campus of Converse College. On a whim I decided to buy a Converse T-shirt for a souvenir. I rode through the gates and a lady on the grounds directed me to Wilson Hall, where the information office is located.
I parked my bike outside Wilson Hall and walked in. I was totally unprepared for what I saw. Wilson Hall's main lobby is palatial. The ceilings are a mile high and chandeliers provide the light. A room adjacent to the lobby holds a pair of baby grand pianos. The place was stately and silent. I felt like I probably shouldn't be here without some sort of invitation.
The lady at the information office noted that the campus bookstore was closed, and that was the place to get a t-shirt. I gave up on the shirt, but had a nice conversation with the lady. She had recently retired from her service at Penn State University. "My husband and I moved down here, and we love it. At Penn State, you've got thousands of students shoving you around. This is so different, being at a small college. It's great."
No wonder. I have never heard of a Southerner who voluntarily moved north. It always happens the other way around. After all, it's a frozen wasteland north of the Mason-Dixon line.
I picked out a motel in downtown Spartanburg and checked in. The lady at the front desk couldn't find the key to my room. "Somebody didn't bring it back," she muttered as she dug around in a box under the desk.
The lady finally produced a room key. I found the room and when I unlocked the door the phone was ringing. It was the lady at the desk. She asked, "What does that room look like?"
I looked around and answered, "It looks like a motel room. It's all cleaned up and ready to go."
"You don't see anybody else's stuff in there, like they haven't checked out yet?"
"No stuff," I reported. The lady said thanks and never mind the confusion. They must have a problem with the paperwork.
Some time later I went to turn on the television and saw that the On/Off/Volume knob was missing. I looked in my bike bag but I didn't have a tool that would reach through the hole and turn the set on. I called the office to report the problem.
By now the lady who had checked me in had been replaced by a man who would run the night shift. He came right over and gave me the knob off the set in the lobby. He turned the television on and then gave the room a strange look. Hey, where are the paintings?"
Sure enough, the walls were bare with only the mounts for two pictures. I never would have noticed, but the motel guy looks at these rooms every day. "I've got to check into this," he said sternly as he walked off.
Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I called the office. "I don't have the paintings," I said. "I have a hard time stealing paintings on my bicycle."
The man laughed and said, "We know you didn't do it." He had determined almost beyond a doubt that the renter before me had left with the room key, skipped out on a hefty phone bill, made off with the room's paintings and for whatever perverse pleasure, taken the knob off the television set.
As I went to sleep in Spartanburg, the next day's destination was a mystery. An even greater mystery was this burglar. Even if he used an alias when he checked in, he's history. The cops will visit the folks on the burglar's phone bill and they'll easily find out who the burglar is. Maybe he can hang the motel paintings in his jail cell.
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