Member Musings: Iris Shur

Member Musings features the reflections and thoughts of an NPC member. 

Iris Shur

The Young are Fearless

A neighborhood gathering ended with conversation about our years as teenagers and young adults and some of the crazy things we did! Everyone had a story.

Now, you have to picture a gaggle of ten women in their 60s and 70s sitting around with their eyes lit up remembering their wild days. We were all transported back several decades.

At first the stories came out in fits and starts. But then as one outrageous trip or prank was revealed, we vied for the “microphone” to tell our tale. Pretty soon we each tried to top the other. “Well, you think that was something. You won’t believe what I did.”

One woman was at a university near Kent State in 1970 and, because of student uprisings, they canceled classes a week before regular Spring Break. With time on their hands, she and a girlfriend decided to travel to Washington DC and New York City because they had never been there. They told their parents they were staying at each other’s house. Then they hitchhiked from Ohio. The first person who picked them up asked: “Where are you going?”

“Either Washington, DC or New York,” they answered. He was going to Washington, so off they went with nary a plan and very little money. The tale was peppered with lots of fun and excitement. I felt that my neighbor would have loved to do it again.

The rest of us said, “Wow, were you lucky that nothing bad happened to you,” and we conjured up all kinds of mishaps that could have befallen her but, of course, did not.

Another neighbor recounted the time when she was driving alone at night along a difficult coast road in California. She was nervous about driving in the dark, but all the hotels in that resort area were beyond her budget. When she became extremely tired, she pulled over to the side of the road, got out and sat on a bench. A gentleman came walking along and sat next to her. She told him her predicament. He said he lived in a trailer nearby and she was welcome to come and stay with him overnight. She took him up on his offer and was adamant that he acted like a gentleman and that they had separate sleeping accommodations. A few weeks later she drove back to where his trailer was, but it was gone. She had wanted to thank him for his hospitality and had brought him a gift. No one in the area ever heard of him. “He was my guardian angel,” she told us.

We all were amazed at her luck in being in one piece. “We wouldn’t have gone with him,” we all said. “Scary.”

The stories were now coming fast and furious. It was all we could do to get heard. The topic seemed to be one that stimulated us all. Then I told mine.

In my early 20s I traveled alone to Lima, Peru. While there, I heard about Machu Picchu and decided to go. First I flew to Cuzco, where I stayed overnight. The next day I got on the train to Machu Picchu, planning to purchase a ticket on board. Apparently, they didn’t allow that, so I spent the trip trying to avoid the conductor.

Once at Machu Picchu I discovered that there was only one place to eat and you had to have reservations. Of course I didn’t have one, but I went anyway. People gave me food off their plates. I didn’t actually have any idea why this Machu Picchu was important or even what it was. Then I found out that everyone was there on a tour with a guide. I had to sneak around to follow an English-speaking tour, looking as if I belonged.

Can you believe that now I won’t even travel alone to the next state? How did I possibly do what I did then?

When we had run out of stories we could safely share, we all sighed and said, “I would never have let my kids do any of that!”

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