Traveling Man

        When we travel, we like the back roads. They wander through miles of national forest trees or by family farms with silos and a bunch of cows. We like motels recommended by friends where there’s a small neon sign that says “Office,” and a letter or two is burned out. The room key is real metal key attached to a plastic diamond-shaped ad that encourages you to drop it in the nearest post office box if you forget to return it. The assistant manager works weekends as a sound man and knows all the regional musicians.

        He spots my case. “Whatcha carrying?”

        “Gibson, Montana era. Weber signed.”

        “Cool. You know Frank Wakefield?”

        “New Camptown Races?”

        “Yep. We grew up together.”

        “He’s a player.”

        “Toured with all of ’em, even the Dead,” he said.


        We like old museums and historical sites. When you see a Shaker settlement historical site struggle to survive that borders on disrepair from lack of funds, it’s a little sad. It’s right across the street from a busy airport and two blocks from the Interstate where cars whir by oblivious to local heritage. Mother Ann Lee lies in a tiny graveyard. She came from Manchester as a young girl to escape abuse and exploitation, and didn’t fare much better here. I wonder if we’ve learned much.  

        We like to poke around in downtown book stores where an old doctor with a mandolin and a million stories is welcome to have a cup of coffee and sit a spell. We’ll stay in a rental trailer just backstage at a small bluegrass festival and campground called Strawberry Park. Ted pulled some strings to get us a prime spot. A night on the town is roasted ears of corn over an outdoor grill or a late night jam session at the ball field.

         I guess we’ll never be world travelers. Our only reason to go anywhere is to meet people like us. They’re still around if you know where to look for them.

Dr. B

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8 Comments on “Traveling Man”

  1. Felix Miller Says:

    Doctor B.,
    Have you ever encountered a book titled “Blue Highways:A Journey Into America”? By a fella named William Least-Heat Moon.

    The blue highways referred to winding little roads which were printed in blue in Rand-McNally road maps. Moon took his time following these little roads and saw things not visible from freeways.

    Don’t know if he was Bluegrass, as you say, but he sounds as though he could be. It’s been a long time since I read this book – it’s been a long time since I did so many things – but then I am old.

    Waiting eagerly for your book to be out, down here in Chattanooga.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I have heard of this but haven’t read it. I need to; he sure sounds like a bluegrass kinda traveler.

      My agent called today. He has seen the prototype and is gonna send me a copy. Once we have looked it over and given the okay he’ll tell ’em to let the press roll.

      I gotta admit it makes me nervous, but I have done my best to show what it is like to be a country doctor. A professional writer might be able to write better prose, but I don’t think there is any way they could do enough research to be as authentic.

      Dr. B

  2. Lua Says:

    We travel for the same reasons Dr.B, to meet people like you and listen to their stories! They never fail to inspire me… 🙂

    • drtombibey Says:


      Somewhere down the bluegrass road y’all bring a guitar and a song. I’ll play mandolin, and my wife’ll cover the bass. We’ll sit around a campfire and jam and tell all kinda tall tales.

      Dr. B

  3. Levonne Says:

    I like your dialog.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Early on my agent said that part of my writing always seemed to work. After thirty years of talking with patients I guess it just comes natural.

      Dr. B

  4. Billy Says:

    I hope to see some photos on Ted’s web site showing a photo of a real copy of The Mandolin Case SOON or I am going to start to say it is a figmint of somebody’s creative mind. You are not having those things printed in China are you?

  5. drtombibey Says:


    The publisher is in Tennessee. It is fitting ’cause that’s prime bluegrass country. However some fine mandolins are made in China these days. Music brings the world together.

    I expect to get the proof copy today and I will get Ted to post a pic. It is for real and will be for sale soon.

    Dr. B

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