Sunday, February 1, 2009

An Old Guy's Random Rememberings #11, (Post inspired by a new Friend who is an old friend)


My wife had just finished a mystery by Michael McGarrity set in the Gila wilderness area, a central southwestern portion of New Mexico that we have skirted to the north and to the south, but through which we have never traveled.

“I can’t believe that such bad people can live in a place like that” was her summary comment. I agreed with her.

In the first week of June, 1976, we were on US60, along the northern fringe of that area, in a pickup and travel trailer borrowed from the wife’s dad. We were about halfway through the absolute biggest prairie dog community we had ever seen, when there was a jolt, and I looked back to see the trailer trying to dig itself into the pavement.

We pulled over and found that the extended trailer tongue had folded. We disconnected and drove the pickup about six miles toward Arizona to the next “town”, Red Hill, New Mexico. Red Hill was a combination filling station, café, dance hall, and convenience store surrounded by two or three mobile homes.

I explained our plight to an old fellow named Bill Stroud, who said “you need someone who has one of those portable welding machines, now let me see,....”. He paced around for a minute or two, deep in thought, and said “I know a fella in Quemado (about 25 miles back), and I think I saw one of those machines parked in his yard”. He got on the phone and called the guy (on a Sunday morning), telling him what had happened.

About 45 minutes later, a young man showed up with his son in a pickup, pulling a trailer mounted welder. We bought five gallons of gasoline for his generator, and he followed us back to our broken trailer. After about half ah hour, while our girls and his little boy watched the prairie dogs together, we were whole again.

When we asked how much we owed him, fearing the worst, he said “nuthin’, glad to help out”. My wife handed the little boy a ten and told him to buy his dad and mom a hamburger. We continued our journey to a fine time at the Grand Canyon and then down to Oak Creek and Sedona.

We will never believe that the kind of renegades and murderers described in the mystery novel could live around there.


Mike Gavin said...

Mike Gavin, Houston. I saw your blog in flicker and have been reading some of your stories and have very much enjoyed them. this one reminded me of a trip my wife and i took to Ouray , Co. We were in our 20's and had never driven out of the Houston area so the mountains were something to us. I did not know not to ride the brakes and to drop down in low gear, anyway coming back in Albuquerque our brakes were going out. We spent the night and found a little repair shop the next morning. We had a credit card that we had for emergency use only.
The man in the shop looked at the car and said yes it needed a break job. we told him to do it. and we would walk around while he was working on it. he told us no he would not let us do that, that we could use his truck, and then ask if we had had breakfast yet, when we told him no he told one of his helpers to start the work on the car even though there were several ahead of us. he told us to com with him he knew where you could get the best meal in town and bought our breakfast for us. then went back and gave us the keys to his truck and said to check back in a couple of hours. when we got back the car was ready and the bill was less than what we would have ever paid in Houston.
There are some great folks around out country.

Willie C said...

Thanks a lot, Mike! Ironically, my wife and I, along with our year-old daugther, made our first trip to Albuquerque from Baytown, where I was working my first job after college.

We drive out to visit some relatives of my wifes, and I was immediately taken with the place. Coming from the Houston area, the clear air at Albuquerque was almost unbelievable!

Early in December, the work slowed down, and I was laid off. We considered it a fortunate opportunity!

I didn't find a job in Albuquerque, but found one in Santa Fe, and we celebrated Christmas in Santa Fe, still the best place I can think of to celebrate Christmas!

Our first home in Santa Fe

I was convinced by family back in Texas that I should move back to Austin, but I left my heart in Santa Fe.

Willie C