Murfreesboro, Tennessee —
On Friday, October 14th, we were enroute from the dusty, fire-scarred area of Bastrop & Elgin in mid-state Texas, to our reserved hotel room in Louisiana. Our usual mid-afternoon break had put us at the DQ across from your football field. We took our ice-cream outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, and were captured by the sound of Indian chants and drum beats. When we asked about it, we were told it was the football team practicing for that night's homecoming game. That trumped anything on our agenda; we decided to stay in Jacksonville for the game.
Back from getting a motel in town, we were guided to a legal parking place by a very friendly and helpful policeman at DQ. We saw him later at the game with another officer who both watched the crowd intently looking for signs of discontent before they had a chance to bloom into trouble. We applaud the manner in which they operated to ensure safety at such a crowded facility. They, and other adults at the stadium, were geniuses at crowd control!
My husband and I were greeted by friendly ticket agents and a helpful lady collecting the tickets who informed us where general admissions could and could not sit. But our choice of seats meant that the best was yet to come.
We happened to sit on the same bleacher with Catherine. This young lady, a sixth grader, bubbling with personality, adopted us. She introduced us to her father, and then to her brother who was all loyally decked out with spiked, blue-painted hair. Catherine took me to the top of the bleachers to show me where the restrooms and concessions were located. She bounded up three or four stairs and then doubled back to walk with me. Though I could tell that she knew myriads of people, she stayed only a short time with them so she could assist me. She told me about the beautiful, unique, floor-length ribbons that the girls wore. She introduced me to the "pickle pop" and offered to share her dip and chips. We talked some about what she wants to do when she grows up. I know she will be a success at whatever field she enters. Catherine was a Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce representative and public relations guru all in one happy 11 year old.
Thank you, Jacksonville, and your fine citizens. You all made a great impression on two travelers and "former" strangers.
Diana & Jim Johnson
P.S. If anyone reading this knows Catherine, we would love to have contact information for her and her family. The chill of the night air became more than her family could take and they left abruptly before I could get their address.