Surely it’s happened to you. You’re waiting in line at the register or maybe the checkout at Dave’s and the person in front of you, or maybe behind you strike up a conversation. …
Surely it’s happened to you. You’re waiting in line at the register or maybe the checkout at Dave’s and the person in front of you, or maybe behind you strike up a conversation. Depending on their disposition, the opening line might be, “do you believe this?” or “finally, we’ve got some summer weather.”
I’m always open to talking to strangers, because invariably they know somebody that you know and there’s more to talk about than the weather or the wait. Fact is, Carol dreads shopping with me because she knows I’ll run into somebody who knows somebody and what would have been five minutes to buy ice cream turns into a half hour expedition.
I understand it in Rhode Island. After all, this is the tiniest state and unless you just stepped into the Ocean State you know somebody.
So, when I visited Jackson Hole, WY, for my granddaughter’s graduation, I thought the only person I might run into from Rhode Island would be Lincoln Chafee. That would have been fun, but to my surprise as far away as Jackson is from the rest of the country – and even with the airport closed – the town was humming. Traffic crawled with those on bikes and e-bikes whizzing by on the adjoining bike path. Horses would have been even faster, but the old West days – actually not all that long ago – are just memories. You’ll find the horses in open meadows, rodeos and dude ranches.
There was no Linc. And not venturing into a super market and thankfully not finding myself in a waiting line other than at all the airports I visited to get there, my connection with the local populace didn’t reach beyond the graduation and the parties that followed.
On the morning of my return flight, Diana and her husband, Scott, suggested we go out for breakfast. I imagined a local joint with bar stools and booths with cracked vinyl upholstered seats and Formica table tops. But no, they had something fancier in mind. It even had a fancy name, Persephone. It is in a line of shops in a condo complex designed with a western motif of rough planking. Persephone stood out as being different and elegant in a land where moose and elk are as common place as raccoons are in Rhode Island and black and grizzly bears can be frequently spotted.
A glass case with a glistening selection of scones, glazed muffins and croissants was just inside the entry. Carafes of coffee lined a wall behind the counter. This was not grits and gravy territory. I inhaled but there a whiff of burning grease or sizzling hash browns. Yogurt, granola and fresh berries were on the menu along with a concession to a conventional breakfast eggs, bacon and whole wheat toast.
We ordered and took our number to a wrought iron table on the porch and the welcome sun.
We had the place to ourselves until two men sat at a nearby table.
“Ray,” Diana said welcoming one. The pair came over and Ray introduced Phil.
Diana talked about the graduation and how she would be driving me to Idaho Falls to catch a flight east. Phil questioned where east and when I told him, he said that’s where he grew up. We quickly narrowed it down to Warwick and then Phil said he had attended Sherman School.
“What’s your last name?” I asked.
When Phil said “Round,” I replied, “I knew you father, Charlie.”
Dr. Charles Round had an office on Warwick Avenue not far from Don’s Pizza. I got to know him as a fellow member of the Warwick Rotary Club and through Kent Hospital. I related a story of a Rotary meeting where Charlie offered a medical explanation for a condition described by the speaker who later it was learned was an actor posing to be someone else. It was all a ruse, although many club members thought it was for real.
Phil is a singer and guitarist. He pointed out the Beacon did a story when he returned to his native Rhode Island to give a concert. He is the owner of the Snake River Music Agency based in Jackson.
What were the odds of having breakfast more than a couple of thousand miles from Warwick and meeting the son of a Rotary Club member I had known for years? Only two weeks later, I told the story to Travis Landry of Bruneau Auctioneers who has appeared on the PBS series, The Antique Road Show. Landry was the speaker at the Rotary Club.
Landry knew exactly who Dr. Charles Round was. Bruneau had handled the sale of some of estate items.
“Only in Rhode Island,” said Landry.
Maybe not, I thought.
The world is smaller than it seems.
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