Escapees in Livingston, TX

We took a detour on our way to Ben Wheeler, TX and decided to stop by Livingston, TX and pick-up our mail. Livingston, TX, has a large RV park, under the aegis of the Escapees, a nationwide RV organization serving every need of the full-time or part-time vagabond. It provides an address and P.O.# to members, where they can have their mail forwarded, and then passed on to another address when their travels stop long enough somewhere. There is also Escapees Care, a halfway facility for members who need some medical recovery care after hospitalization, before returning to life in a rig.

We booked a one-night stopover, for mail and to satisfy our curiosity. The park was a mix of long-established neighborhoods with deeded lots and regular spots for shorter term visits. Bruce told me that there was a social hour at 4:00, and despite the humid heat, I changed into a dry shirt before heading over. (Escapees have a long tradition of hugs.) People were already seated at the rows of tables, with coffee or decaf from two urns over at the side. A man in a yellow shirt, Vagabond Tom, who does the rounds of Escapee parks, adjusted the mike and began speaking about how the Escapee traditions and social hours were declining. My thoughts were: ‘I came for a hug, not an exhortation, and your lecture isn’t helping first impressions.’

As others got up to speak of potlucks, charity events, adopted highway cleanups, and other things, I realized that this was a real community, albeit a bit, well, staid. After that, still others got up to thank for support while they were in Care, and the social director gently pointed out to Tom that THIS park was very vital and engaged. After the formal part of the meeting, we got to discover this vitality, as warm and interesting people came and talked with us. One beautiful senior lady had caught my eye when she got up for more coffee, and came to join Frank, a 91-year-old full-timer of tremendous energy and enthusiasm who was talking to us about the Escapees traditions. What a great couple! They offered to pose for an ‘American Gothic’ shot, and I will keep it for inspiration.

Vagabond Tom turned out to be an inspiration too. He’s an ex-president of Doves, an Escapees group affiliated with the Red Cross, which is made up of RVers trained to respond and help in disaster areas. We’re very interested in this and he gave us a wealth of names and information to pursue.

Sometimes it’s good to ignore first impressions.

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