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The Hottest Place On Earth

I don't want to give away the punchline with a photo, so.....

It's another hot one, and it seems like we can't fully escape the heat just yet. As a matter of fact, it's almost like it's getting worse. Like, the ground has heated up so much that it radiates the hot air back to us. And even with that hurricane, it feels like I haven't seen rain all summer. Walking in the yard sounds like I'm stepping on potato chips.

All this heat reminds me of a story...

I never knew my grandfather, who passed on when I was about 2 years old. He did retail work, of some sort, I believe, like traveling for sales to big cities across the country. In his pictures, he was always a well dressed man. I think I got that bit of style from him, even though I'm now more a shorts and t-shirt guy, just because it's too hot for a suit.

I think I also got my storytelling ability from him. I'm sure he passed it on to my father. My father always had funny tales to tell, even if he told them over and over. But I did like when he occasionally told stories his father told him. One was about the Hottest Place On Earth. You'll never guess where it is.

So, my grandfather was in New York City on business, and some other men asked him where he was from. He told them he was from a small town in North Carolina, and they were all nice, saying, "Oh yeah, we know a place in North Carolina!" Far from knocking Grandfather for being from small town America, they were engaging, and told this story.

They had been sent to Africa on a sortie to get raw materials, I believe, but somehow they ended up in deep Africa, almost stereotypical in the jungle theme motif. They were in a shanty watering hole bar, one I expect that had a piano player tinkling along to a made up song, and somehow sailors in white caps drinking in black and white, even though it was far inland, because all those bars had two sailors drinking rum at the bar. So they stood there, sweating in their suits, struggling in the everpresent heat, likely waving their hats to try to cool off, but only moving hot air around. As they sweated and complained, they suggested that this was the hottest place on earth. Yes, they agreed mutually, this was indeed the hottest place on earth. Nowhere could be hotter.

"No, this isn't the hottest place on earth," came a call from a darkened corner of the bar.

Out of the shadows, a figure appeared. He was dressed all in white, jacket and pants, with a thin, short wide brimmed hat over him, also white as ivory, all to reflect the heat back. An expatriate, perhaps, an American who had absconded with the church funds, or perhaps a hunter, who came long ago to kill the game he couldn't find in the American prairie, and could now never go back, holding one last bullet in his pocket in remembrance of the lives left in the savannah. He was old, worn from the dust and heat. "No, this isn't the hottest place on earth," he told the two salesmen.

"Well," asked one, as they were perplexed as to where this man had come from and how he came to the knowledge he was about to share, "Where is the hottest place on earth?!"

"Have you men ever heard of... Goldsboro, North Carolina?"

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