Upon completion of his first Pacific passage, Ron returned to the home of his grandparents in Montana for two restless semesters at the local high school. He attended classes in a white-spired edifice vaguely resembling a rectory. He joined the student newspaper staff of The Nugget, and penned a humor column. He studied piano with an aunt until it was discovered he could not read a single note, but rather excelled as a machine gunner with the 163rd Infantry of the Montana National Guard. He scraped together the purchase price for an old Model T roadster, accompanied a basement band on his well-traveled sax and otherwise attempted to reacclimatize to a small-town existence he had plainly outgrown.
But if China was a fabulous puzzle box, he knew very well he had only examined the first intriguing drawer. And so from these days — or more precisely from aboard the vessel on which he finally escaped provincial life — comes this account of his hurried departure and the start of a second Asian voyage, at the age of seventeen.
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