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WAYFARERS PASSAGE, EPISODE ONE
Tommy Michel from New Orleans

The Journey to Katahdin Go Down Go Up
THE JOURNEY TO KATAHDIN, written by Tommy Michel, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, was second of eight.
When I was not yet one year old and still nursing, my parents, with me and my older brother Fred, left our family, friends and home to move to another state.
My father has recently graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans and after applying for work, received his first full time job in the northern panhandle of the state located directly west of Louisiana. He packed up his family of four and began his journey west to the small town of Borger, Texas.
  The Wayƒarers
I don′t remember anything about our first home in Borger, in fact, my memories do not begin until the time in our next home after my dad′s company offered him a better position if he would take the opening at the Pasadena, Texas refinery. However, memories of life in that home on Garner street are few, as I was still very young. Instead, it was after we moved again, this time to Roper street when I began going to a colloquial school, where I have much recollection. —Tommy Michel
For more from Tommy Michel, click on the Episode One link

The Family History Go Down Go Up
TOMMY MICHEL was born during the fall of 1950, two miles north of the Mississippi River within the Crescent City, at the Baptist hospital in Jefferson parish.
His parents come from French ancestry and have been living within eyesight of the Mississippi River for as far back as the late 1700′s. Originally both from France, however, his mother′s ancestors were among the original seventy-nine colonist to move to the first French colony in the new world. These colonist, aboard Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons′ vessel, sailed into Baie Française, (Bay of Fundy) during June of 1604 and settled Île Sainte-Croix. 1
However, that first winter proved this island to be uninhabitable for a settlement because winter conditions on the island were so severe that thirty-five colonists lost their lives including some of Michel′s family.
  Tommy Michel
The next spring, when warming weather allows canoes to cross to the island, some Passamaquoddy natives living on the mainland came bearing food, water and firewood. This kindness saved many who were near death from joining those already buried. Gravestones still mark family graves on this island, located in the middle of the Saint Croix River, four miles up the west arm of Passamaquoddy Bay.
The Burden Passage
(Photo credit: National Park Service) Saint Croix Island, Maine
Shaken, but undeterred, the colonists moved in June of 1605, across to the southern shore of the Baie Française to establish a new colony calling it Port Royal, which became the first permanent French settlement in North America.
Here, the settlers could farm, fish and gather from the abundant sources of water and wood. These people prospered in the new world, spreading out along the coastal areas of what they called L′Acadie. (Present day Nova Scotia) 2 This prosperity lasted until the Great Expulsion began in 1755, which was the forced removal by the British of ten (to eighteen) thousand Acadien people from their homes in L′Acadie. Thousands died of typhoid, smallpox, yellow fever or starvation in the squalid conditions on board the British ships, others from drowning, deprivation, and mistreatment after being dumped ashore in the English colonies with a final casualty count of, as many believe, over fifty percent. Although thousands died, many more survived the Great Expulsion, and subsequently moved their families south to settle along the lower Mississippi River because they had heard that the French still raised it′s chevron in Louisiana.
The family of Tommy′s mother made it through the Great Expulsion and settled in the lower Mississippi River delta where one is never far from water. Many of his family felt that this water environment reminded them of how Venice, Italy would have looked and soon, their village bore the name of Venice, New France.
Although the climate was very different from L′Acadie, these stout Frenchmen took up farming and fishing much like was done in L′Acadie and soon, prosperity followed in their new homes. One particular catch in these new waters was quite a surprise to them but they soon found ways to use every bit of the alligators that they caught, from the meet and skin to the teeth which they used as ornaments.
His father′s family were descendants of Pierre Michel who crossed the Atlantic on the Le Saint-Remi, one of the seven ships of 1785 which brought Acadian refugees from France to Louisiana. Pierre Michel settled in the Bayou Lafourche. Many years later, both of his parents families move to New Orleans and it was not long before his parents, Aubrey and Maybelle were to meet.

The Early Life Go Down Go Up
WHEN AUBREY was in the navy, he met, married Maybelle and soon after they had their first child Frederick, named for his grandfather.
After Aubrey′s navy tour ended, he used his military benefits to begin attending Tulane University in New Oleans, from which he received a degree in chemical engineering. During his last year of school, their second child, Tommy was born, named after his great uncle.
When Tommy was not yet one year old, his parents left New Orleans, taking both of their young children away from family, friends and their familiar home to move to another state. Aubrey had graduated from Tulane University and after applying for work, he received his first full time engineering position in the state of Texas, in the small north panhandle town of Borger.
  Tommy Michel
First bicycle, age 5
Sketch by Thom
After transferring to the Pasadena refinery, southeast of Houston, and as his family grew in number, they would move to progressively larger homes. Finally, they settled in a four bedroom brick home in Deer Park, Texas near the refinery where Aubrey′s job was. Maybelle kept the home going, seeing that the family was kept clean, feed and cared for, as the children increased in number to eight. Also, Maybelle was very religious and reared her children in the Catholic church.
Although Tommy never really came to love the church as did his mother, he did develop deep respect for God and his Word, the Bible. Later, he began reading the Bible in earnest and read completely through a couple modern English versions.

The First Journeys Go Down Go Up
AT THIRTEEN, he joins the Boy Scouts and comes to love camping, especially in the east Texas woodlands. As a youth, during the summer, Tommy has ample opportunity to play ball, go camping, ride his bike and hike. He would hike to the Lynchburg ferry on the San Jacinto river and go camping with the Scouts at Double Lake, Camp Strake, El Rancho Cima and other places.
He does well in drafting classes in high school, receiving top awards at regional and state competition in architecture, so he decides to pursue architecture as a career. After graduating from Deer Park High School in 1968, he studies rchitecture at the university. However, after the first year, he is done with the schooling, leaves the university, finds work with in construction and begin learning the trade of, as he calls it, throwing a hammer.
  Tommy Michel
Soon after he meets and marries Becky who becomes the focus of his life. However, this was a time of national unrest with war was raging in southeast Asia and the nation began drafting it combatants from citizens born from 1944 to 1950.
Tommy′s draft lottery number was 151 and by March of 1970, the draft had reached the number 125, so he decided to enlist so that he could assure that he would not be drafted into a combat battalion. He was successful in this attempt and his first assignment was in an air wing of the Marine Corps where he worked as a repairman for navigation and communications equipment at the base in southern California. Thus, Tommy became a Vietnam War veteran from his military tour.
The last lottery number called was 195, far past Tommy′s number and he realizes that what he did just might of saved his life. Later, he also learned that most of his high school mates that were drafted died in that war.
To read more of Tommy′s First Journeys, click on the blue link above.

The Wayƒaring Begins Go Down Go Up
THERE ON THE RACK, he could not stop looking at and wondering about the title of one particular book, Appalachian Hiker Adventure of a Lifetime. 3 He picks it up, flips through the inside pages and it does not take long before the book is in a bag sitting on the passenger seat of his car as he drives home.
With only half of the book read, he fully embraces the idea for himself of a journey on a long trail. He begins discerning what it would take to attempt this, how long it would take, how much it would cost, what would he do with his things, the list of thoughts is endless but he can′t stop thinking about it.
He begins to realize that to pull this off, he must needs save money before leaving work. Then he will also have to move out of his home, leave behind his family, his friends, even his life as he has come to know it by getting rid of everything he owns.
  Tommy Michel
As he continues to read the Adventure of a Lifetime he contemplates deeply if this long hike is it even possible for him to do. Could he do this, would he do this, he can not keep from thinking about what he is to do about his desire to walk a long trail. Soon, nothing else matters to him as much as this challenge that has been presented to him in the form of a long distance backpacking journey.
Finally, he says to himself out loud, "I accept!" and he begins the preparation for his journey.
Shortly before Tommy is ready to leave on this journey, he decides to purchase a smaller, light weight copy of the Bible for the trail and when his mother learns of this, she insists on purchasing it for him as a gift. She obtained a three inch by five inch copy of the King James Version and presented to him before he leaves for his journey. He keeps his Bible in his top pouch and even sews a leather cover for it.
He reads through the entire Bible while hiking and gains much comfort and direction from many verses, even striving to change his once bad ways so he would be better able to please God. Too, it becomes his long standing desire to know more about many of the verses that are either to deep or to symbolic for him.

Come Join the Journey Go Down Go Up
Come Join the Journey
To read more of Tommy Michel′s story, his search for meaning in life, please download the book The Wayfarers Journal, Journey to Katahdin, now available free only on this website at: The Wayfarers Store (donations accepted)

1  
Saint Croix Island on the Saint Croix River, now a US national monument in Maine, was in fact the first French settlement in the new world, even before the English settlement in Jamestown which was not founded until May 14, 1607.
2  
Acadia (French: Acadie) was a colony of New France in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine to the Kennebec River. (William Williamson. The history of the state of Maine. Vol. 2. 1832. p. 27; p. 266; p. 293) The expression L′Acadie is believed to be translated The Paradise.
3  
by Edward Garvey. Published by Appalachian Books, Oakton, Virginia. 1971. At the time he read this book, less than eight hundred had walked the entire 2000 mile Appalachian Trail.

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