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by Mike Masterson | August 15, 2021 at 1:42 a.m.

My late friend Bud Walsh from Harrison, a man whose opinion I respected, once told me after reading a column about a blunder I owned: "You know Mike, I don't believe I'd have told that on myself."

Well, file today's offering in the same category, proving I didn't learn anything from Bud's well-intentioned wisdom.

This time I was packing the car for a trip to spend several days with daughter Anna and grandson Trenton in Bartlett, Tenn. Seems simple enough, right?

To make certain I hadn't forgotten my laptop, which I'd need to file my columns on deadline last week, I set the computer case on the garage steps. There was no way to avoid stepping over it.

Ten minutes later, I'd loaded the trunk and back seat, backing from the driveway at exactly 9:30 a.m.

It was a beautiful morning and I'd driven just over 20 miles through the mountains when I was suddenly struck by a moment of panic. I didn't recall loading the laptop! Oh, but surely I had.

Edging to the side of U.S. 412, I looked in the back seat. Nope. So I popped the truck and peered inside. I saw my two carry bags, but no laptop. Oh no, all I could do was make the trip back home. Talk about a thorough mental self-flagellation for the next 30 minutes!

After I'd turned around and driven a couple of miles, the thought occurred that I should pull over and do one more careful check. That feeling quickly passed as I felt as certain as any male possibly could that I'd seen all there was (and wasn't) the first time. Instead, on I drove back into Harrison, across town and finally back into our driveway.

Raising the garage door, I expected to see the laptop case still sitting where I'd left it. But it wasn't there. So what gives here? Back inside the house to search. Still nothing.

So I returned to the trunk where I lifted the lid and quickly saw the black laptop case stuck to one side just where it had been since I'd originally loaded it along with the bags. I believe I almost began to thrash and weep. Back across town and onto the highway for 25 minutes where I finally passed the place where I'd turned around over an hour before. I didn't bother waving.

Then things became even more frustrating as I dutifully followed the lady's pleasant voice on my GPS until reaching Jonesboro. There, instead of directing me about an hour eastward over to Interstate 55, she inexplicably instructed me to head southward along Arkansas 1, where I felt I was leaving civilization forever.

What's up with that? Road construction? Nonetheless, onward I trustingly drove.

Finally, I ran into Interstate 40 at Forrest City where I was still 48 miles from the restored bridge at Memphis.

Fighting the endless convoy of 18-wheelers for another 45 minutes, I finally crossed the bridge and continued along I-40 to Exit 8. By the time I arrived after 4:30 p.m. at Anna's house, my trip that according to GPS takes about 4½ hours had taken closer to seven.

In retrospect, this day reminded me of the time a few years back when it had taken three hours to find our Orange Beach, Ala., a condo after arriving in Orange Beach. That "enjoyment" took a fourth of the 11-hour drive from Harrison to the Gulf Coast resort.

Jeanetta reminded me that the nagging voice urging me to re-examine my trunk for the laptop before making the 50-mile round trip back to Harrison, and after having already driven those 25 miles, likely had been my higher angels trying their darnedest to advise me.

As a typical male in most respects, I chose to trust my ability to resist reality and suffer the consequences. I equate that with a man who stubbornly refuses to stop for directions.

Please, I implore you, valued readers: Assure me I'm not alone.

Brandon's legacy

We watched the movie "Greater" again the other night. Most of us Razorback fans know the amazing story of All-American Brandon Burlsworth of Harrison and his remarkable football career at Arkansas followed by the tragedy of his April 22, 1999, fatal crash along U.S. 412 near Alpena.

It seems like only last year that this offensive lineman (number 77) passed from life when his car crossed the centerline and struck a westbound truck head-on. Such a tragic loss for the Burlsworth family and our entire state.

Twenty-two years later, I still think of the 22-year-old man who after graduation had been drafted by the Indianapolis Colts and was on the verge of a rewarding career in the NFL each time I pass the scene of his accident at the hamlet of Carrollton.

I've still never learned how the accident happened. Had Brandon become momentarily distracted at the point where a straight stretch turns sharply uphill to the right? Yet the reason is irrelevant.

What matters are the lessons this young man left us about the importance of character, integrity and commitment in all we do over our lifetimes.

Now go out into the world and treat every one you meet exactly how you want them to treat you.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at

Print Headline: Journey to forget


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