Jun 06, 2012Do You Know Pete Best?

It was hot, we were sweaty and walking along a farm road back to the trailhead to finish a three-day backpacking trip at Piney Creek.

A beat-up pickup went past. Nothing unusual in that as there are several houses further along the farm road, enough, it seems, for the road to be blacktop and not graded gravel. Anyway a few minutes later the pickup comes back and pulls up alongside us.

The incongruity of a backpacking Brit in an Ozarks forest giving driving directions to a couple of locals amused me.

In the pickup was a typical Ozarks hillbilly, fifteen or more years older than me, and a woman of indeterminate age. Like the pickup, they looked like they’d had a hard life. The woman had that painfully thin stature and a toothless grin that I’ve learned to associate with meth addicts. There were probably beer cans strewn around the cab, but I can’t remember such details. Let’s assume there were.

“Do you know the way to Shell Knob public beach?” These guys were 10 miles off target, but as it happened I knew exactly where they wanted to go, “Get back to highway 76, turn left. Then take another left when you get to highway 39 and that’ll get you to Shell Knob, in Shell knob veer left before the lake, and look for the signs.”

The incongruity of a backpacking Brit in an Ozarks forest giving driving directions to a couple of locals amused me.

Then came the killer question. “Do you know Pete Best?” Well, you have to be of a certain age and mental agility to make the necessary connections through culture, space and time to understand that question. “No, I don’t, but I do know who he is.” It appears that this guy served on merchant ships in the early sixties, spent some time in Liverpool, and had seen the Beatles in their early days before Ringo Starr joined them, and their drummer then was … you guessed it … Pete Best.

At this point the woman leaned out of the window and drawled, “I’ve never met anyone from England, can I shake your hand?” never being one to be impolite, I did so.

After a short chat they went on their way. I’ve no idea if they ever made it to the beach, and quite likely they enjoyed telling the tale of the day they stopped to ask directions from a couple of backpackers on a quiet Ozarks farm road and discovered a wandering Brit who knew who Pete Best was.   

gary Allman in the Mark Twain National Forest at Piney Creek Wilderness Missouri.
Who knows what they made of the Brit they met on FR2150. Picture by Ginger. Copyright © 2011 Ginger Allman, all rights reserved.

Copyright © 2012 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

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