Thanks to the athletic prowess of the varsity girls’ basketball team of Floyd County High School, I’m able to revisit a part of my past life once a year.
For a fourth straight year, I’m waking up in a hotel room in Richmond while on a newspaper assignment covering the Virginia High School League state championships at the Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The view from the 18th floor of the Marriott Hotel on Broad Street looks over a rainy morning and a gray city that is still undergoing many transformations.
Richmond, 42 years ago, was the locale for my first out-of-town assignment for a newspaper, a gig covering the Virginia General Assembly for The Roanoke Times in 1967. I stayed at The John Marshall Hotel (right), today a vacant, decaying hulk in downtown Richmond. It would be the first of many overnight assignments in many parts of this country and the world.
The view from my room at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem overlooked the old city of that historic area; the view from the Marriott in Hong Kong overlooked a diverse city just as control passed from the British to the Chinese; the view from the President Hotel in Taipei overlooked a teeming city with too much squalor; the view from a hotel in London gave me a view of the Thames. From thousands of hotel rooms over four decades, I have looked out at nations at war, celebrations of freedom and scenes of everyday life. I’ve been lucky enough to both witness and photograph history.
As a young man growing up in Floyd County, I dreamed of a life of travel, adventure and excitement. I found it all…and more but I had no regrets when I left life on the road and moved to the quiet and solitude of my boyhood home.
Still, these annual pilgrimages remind me of a life with no regrets. Most of the memories are good ones and the nightmares have faded with time. The trip to Richmond provides a pleasant, partial, reliving of those days…and that’s enough for me.