On Monday morning, just before 7 o’clock, Buddy’s Dad gave him a ride to the bus stop on King Street. Mable stayed at home. She just couldn’t bear to see him leave. “We never say goodbye in this family. It’s always…see-you-later.”
The bus stop in Strasburg was nothing more than a curb and a sign in front of the drugstore. Buddy sat on his suitcase and held a shoebox in his lap in which his mother had packed food for the 3-hour journey to Richmond. From his location, looking to the west, he could see the Virginia Restaurant, the scene of many happy memories from his teen years. And to the East, the Fire Station that also housed City Hall, which was nothing more than a tiny office where Ethel Puster processed water bill payments. Beside the Fire Station was an alley that led to a parking lot upon which the annual Lions Carnival was staged. And across the parking lot where it adjoined Washington Street was an old log cabin, home of Boy Scout Troop 57, where Buddy advanced through the ranks to Eagle Scout.
As he viewed his surroundings, he considered that leaving just might be a mistake. After all, that little town, population 2,000, was like comfort food for the soul. Everybody knew everybody, neighbors never locked their doors, and there was so little crime that some of the locals wondered if it was worth the expenditure of tax revenue to employ the one and only part-time town policeman. But how could he earn a living there? Grocery store clerk? Pump gas at Fritz’s Filling Station? He made up his mind long ago that employment at the apple processing plant in Winchester or the American Viscose textile operation in Front Royal were not appealing options.
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