Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The (true life) story behind the machete

About fifteen years ago I was the director of a camp program operated by the Episcopal Church in western Virginia.  The way the camp worked was the people, usually youth and adult chaperones, would come and spend a week repairing and renovating the homes of severely impoverished people in Appalachia (for those outside of the US, that's the mountainous region between roughly Pennsylvania and northern Georgia best known for its small, coal mining communities).

At one of these camp sessions a guy drives up in a shiny new SUV and drops off his daughter who was to be a camper that week.  Interestingly enough, she's outfitted with a frame backpack and rather than bringing construction tools (which is pretty normative), she is only wielding this black machete.  A quick conversation with the girl's father, a somewhat older (for a teen parent) gentleman reveals that he thought this was a "backpacking the Appalachian trail" camp, not a work-project camp.  He's not upset, though, in fact he thinks the whole idea is a great one, and asks if there's any available openings for another adult (his daughter, as you might imagine, was less than thrilled to hear dear old dad would be sticking around).

The guy's name was Alexander Bell (no relation).  He had been born in Africa, the children of British colonialists, for lack of a better word, right before World War II.  When the Nazis over-ran the area where his parents lived, his parents fled their home and were taken in by African tribesmen.  They lived with the tribesmen for years, even after the war had ended.  Eventually his parents returned to Great Britain with their son who was put into a British school after having spent most of his life in the African bush.

He must have done well for himself because he ended up getting accepted with a scholarship to UCLA in the United States.  The scholarship just covered his classes, however, not his housing, and with no money to speak of Bell spent the first couple of years at UCLA living on the streets of Los Angeles as a homeless person while still attending classes before finally scraping up enough money for a place to live.
After graduation he got a job working in the automotive industry, finally making his way to being a senior executive before retiring.  "The SUV out there?  I get one every year from the company to drive--whatever the newest model is."

At the end of the camp, Bell gave me the machete and the toolbelt he bought for himself to use that week.  I still have both, now that I've been reunited with the machete.  So my zombie apocalypse weapon, both in real life and ATZ, comes from bad-ass stock.

On an unrelated note, I figured Irene and I were due for a Rep increase despite not having recovered any resources, but not getting OOF on the last day.  A six on my die on and a five on hers means we are both Rep 4 civilians now.

8 comments:

  1. True life stories seem always to be more interesting than any fiction we can come up with.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's a great story, WQ. I'm so glad that Robb and Irene made it to Rep:4. It'll make survival a lot easier for them but always remember, it's far better to run away and live than to fight and die.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I quickly have learned that the "split your dice in close combat" pretty much is the zombie's biggest strength. 4d6 vs. 1d6 and you're in pretty good shape. 2d6 vs. 1d6 twice and now you're playing with fire.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes! I should think life may get a wee bit easier.Nice bit of social history there, thanks for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cool story mate. Nice to hear

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amazing... Actually more than that! What a history this machete has!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very cool story. I love stuff like this. I recently began attending an Episcopal church and I love it. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Ironmonk, I'm an Episcopal priest (note in the first AAR that Robb is leaving a church building when he leaves work). I'm glad you found a good home.

    ReplyDelete