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A Raz Autry Story A Road Trip
raz,corbett,wallace at farm
from left: Wallace, Raz, Corbett at peach orchard

Last March, I stayed a few days with Raz at his rehabilitation and nursing home, Open Arms. About the second day I was there he rallied, so all the brothers and my niece Donna came down to Raeford for a visit. We all went to the fine dining establishment, The Waffle House. Raz really ate heartily: country ham, grits, eggs etc. We laughed and told the same stories we always do. A great time.

Later in the day, after a nap, Kathy, Raz, and I decided to take a drive. I put Raz in his wheelchair, brought the car around, got him in the car and drove away. But we forgot to sign him out and consequently the staff was looking for him and us. They probably thought I had kidnapped him. They had seen me around for a couple of days.

We decided to go for Smithfield Barbecue and I think I am on the way to Fayetteville, but I made the mistake of asking Kathy(who has no sense of direction) for help and she takes us in the opposite direction. We wander around for awhile-a long while-through Hoke County, laughing all the time about "touring the countryside" while looking for a barbecue sandwich.

With something akin to a miracle, we see a sign for highway 401. We head in that direction. Finally, after about what seems like hours,(around 45 minutes) we end up at the Cultural Center of Hoke and Cumberland County, the Walmart Shopping Center. Low and behold, there is Smithfield Barbecue. We pull in and get a barbecue sandwich with all the cholesterol clogging properties .

We have a feast and Raz eats it all. We jump on highway 401 and head back to Raeford, still not knowing we are fugitives. Just inside what I guess are the City Limits, a policeman pulls us over. He looks in the car. Kathy is in panic mode.

I'm thinking, "Give me the ticket so I can get Raz on back to his present abode, Open Arms, the nice skilled nursing facility. The policeman takes my license. Goes back to his car and I guess checks it, comes back and says something like, "I don't know how you do it in California but here in North Carolina, we obey the law." I figure at this point the better course of valor is to say nothing.

Finally the policeman says, "You be careful and watch your speed." "I will. Thank you very much." (In fact, as an aside, having spent a night at the Days Inn where I heard sirens all night. My thought: Brooklyn doesn't have that much police activity).

Finally, we get back to Open Arms and the staff run out to greet us in a panic. They have been looking everywhere for us, have called his son, Skip, and are within milliseconds of calling the police. Well, we had temporarily sprung Raz. We thought it was funny. But nobody else was laughing.

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