Here is done the stripping for Liberty.

25 Oct

I’ve stopped caring where my tour groups are from ahead of time as much as I once did, not so much because I don’t care, but because it livens the day up to be surprised, a mental exercise if you will, to try and weave their hometown somehow into mine during an eight-hour narrative.

“Oh, you’re from Weatherford, TX! This is where your hometown gal Mary Martin sang ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy!'”

“Why welcome, Indiana. Look at your limestone all over our Empire State Building.”

“Cincinnati you say? We have a Roebling bridge ourselves don’t ya know.”

This morning, I had to meet a group at Liberty State Park, NJ. It is merely across the river and nearly impossible to reach. I woke up in the middle of the night to get there. But I was punch-drunk, eager, and driven by the wondering what would arrive after I did. As the sun crept up over the Verrazano Narrows, a motor coach crawled up to the curb where I stood alone and freezing on the windswept prairie of what passes for a park in New Jersey.

As I leapt on board, my first thought to myself was, “You’ve overplayed your hand, sir. Prep next time.”

Ahead of me sat the bonnets and beards of 55 Amish farmers and here I had chosen black trousers, a black sweater and a black coat for the day. Was I making fun of them, I wondered did they wonder.

“Are you Carl?” one of them asked, head cocked, wary of the Englishman in black.

I love the Amish. I went to school in Amish Country. As a boy, our family vacationed specifically among the Amish for the quiet and bucolia. But I have little doubt a mountain of tension crumbled off my heavy-burdened shoulders when I realized happily no, I was not Carl. 

“I am sure that Carl will be here soon,” I assured them, loudly, emphatically, carefully avoiding contractions now as though I would not register in Pennsylvania Deutsch, and imagining someone was stepping up right behind me wearing exactly what I was wearing.

My motor coach arrived a full twenty minutes later and I was so frozen and furious I couldn’t give a shit where they were from at that point, especially as the Amish were now ahead of us at the security tent. Flustered, I turned to a gentleman in my group and grumbled, “Well, at least this oughta move along. What the hell could the Amish be packing?”


I do not know what Amish women wear, but all I can assume is that it is a German panzer girdle made out of steel pellets and plastic explosives. Every single one of these women was pulled out of the line and patted down by security personnel who seemed utterly oblivious to the charms of the Nineteenth Century. When all was said and done, we had all missed the first ferry to, of all places, Liberty Island.

I want to write the poem of this, but only have the title. My poet friends can take it from here:

Wanding the Amish.

2 Responses to “Here is done the stripping for Liberty.”

  1. Fran July 26, 2015 at 10:23 PM #

    Amazing story…

    • NC Coot July 27, 2015 at 8:26 AM #

      Why thank you gentle reader!

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