“[My arrival in Robbinsville] became a news flash, received about the way a raiding party from outer space would be.
“Most perplexing was the number of people I tried to tell about my walk across America who wouldn’t believe me. Most thought it was a clever city-boy trick to cover up drug dealing…. Now I understood how people felt in Russia. Around every corner and behind every window, I was being watched.
“I should have stopped looking for a job and moved on. But I decided to be stubborn.”
— From “A Walk Across America” by Peter Jenkins (1979)
Jenkins’ resolve soon succumbed to the threat of lynching: “I was guilty for the crime of being a stranger,” he said later. “A couple of law enforcement officers informed me that I needed to get out town by sundown or I would find myself hanging from a pine tree…. I got out of town.” (Jenkins had a better experience — much better — in Murphy, where he enjoyed a months-long stay with a black family who saw his arrival as God’s way of testing their hospitality.)