WEIRD TROUBLE IN TEXAS
At a certain time in my young life I was a sports car enthusiast. I craved owning cars like Alfa Romeos, MG’s, Fiats, or any other type of European performance vehicle that captured my fancy. I loved watching racecars participate in events like Formula 1, the Indy 500, and the 24 hours of Le Mans.
After numerous breakdowns in my VW, I was fed up with owning a vehicle that had little power and wouldn’t go fast on twisting mountain roads. While living in Santa Monica, California during the latter part of the 60s, I was presented with a chance to change that daunting scenario. The German boyfriend of a lady living in my apartment building complex offered me his old 356 A Porsche Coupe for sale and I bought it for $800.
The car was bright red with a deep lustrous finish compliments of a specialist who painted Ferrari’s for a living. It was a 1956 model with a 90 hp engine and had lots of head and leg room for me and my 6’4″ frame. I loved it and did lots of crazy things with it everywhere I went.
New Orleans Or Bust
Not long after I became it’s new owner, I made the ill- fated decision to drive it all the way to New Orleans for Christmas. My mother was living there along with my brother and sister and their families. It turned into the most hair-raising, long distance trip of my life.
On the way there, I had the good fortune to encounter a massive snow storm plowing through New Mexico. While traveling on the I-10 Freeway, I passed big semi’s and cars stranded on the center divider or flipped upside down in ditches bordering the right of way. Slick ice and drifting snow had caused numerous vehicles to slide off the highway and get stuck in mush or simply crash into another unfortunate driver. Since I was inexperienced with these conditions, I almost became one of them.
One mark against me was the fact that I had over sized rear tires on my Porsche with virtually no tread left on them at all. This issue came to roost the moment I engaged a swerving car in front of me and maneuvered to avoid slamming into the rear bumper.
Before I knew it, my car started rotating counterclockwise and spun around and around down the center of the highway. When I came to a stop, I found myself facing oncoming traffic that was bearing down on me at a frightening rate of speed. And this happened at a late hour, while snow fell all around me, on a moonless night, in pitch black darkness!
Well, needless to say, I somehow escaped disaster at that terrifying moment in time and plowed on toward my destination. When I finally reached Texas, I noticed that little attention was given to speed limits in many parts of that state. I would be going 80 to 90 mph and big American cars would still pass me by.
On the flipside, I found that certain jurisdictions treated speeders with disdain. When I was about halfway through the state, I spotted one car going in the opposite direction that flew by like a jet plane. The next moment, I had to hit the brakes when a highway patrol car jumped out of hiding right in front of me to chase that guy down. Both officers inside were sporting big smiles on their faces while whipping their cowboy hats around in pursuit. Kind of like the stunts that defined the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show. That incident really shook me up and thereafter I took note of my speed in locations that had areas where cops could conceal themselves.
So, with those events behind me, I finally made it to the Big Easy with no other issues to speak of. It was a nice Christmas and everyone there was curious about my car. They were not familiar with that type of vehicle and questions were plentiful that I had fun providing answers for.
When I made preparations for the return trip back to California, my mom made me sandwiches and other stuff to eat. She was a really good cook and everything she made was delicious. With that done, I was all set and took my leave of her.
By the time I was back in Texas, everything was smooth running while I cruised along at 90 mph and partook of one of the sandwiches. Life was good as I passed through Beaumont, and was about 60 miles from Houston when disaster struck.
Without warning, I felt the engine bog down. Then it froze up and brought me to sudden screeching halt on the side of the expressway. When I got out and sought the cause for this mishap, I found no oil on the dipstick. Right then and there I determined that traveling at highspeed in an old Porsche causes the oil in the engine to bleed out into the atmosphere through vents in the valve covers. That cursed feature of my car left me stuck in the middle of nowhere.
By the grace of God (even though I was not spiritually inclined back then), a tow truck just happened to see me and stopped. After explaining the nature of my dilemma, he offered me a tow to his service station located in the very small town called Winnie. There wasn’t much there and his operation was surrounded by dirt and tall weeds. Wow!
The Boonie Mechanic
I asked the station owner if I could take my engine apart on his lot. He agreed and lent me a car jack to begin the process. Already being well versed in pulling my former VW engine out, I was able to follow the same procedure on the Porsche. It wasn’t long before I had all the engine parts in the back seat.
While I toiled away, I had the misfortune of witnessing a disturbing occurrence. The owner began screaming at his dog after it killed some of his chickens. The next thing I heard were gunshots as the dog ran yelping around the station. After it disappeared behind the backside of the building, another gunshot was followed by silence and I saw that animal no more. At that point, I wondered if I would be next.
Soon afterwards, though, things settled down and he invited me to have breakfast with his family. They must have been true Southerners, I supposed, what with the fried eggs, grits, and bacon being served. I was pleased to see him mix his eggs in with the grits, just like we did back home. Sort of like Southern comfort, Texas style.
A Big Helping Hand
As darkness approached, I was faced with a big decision. Do I stay in Winnie or try to get to Houston. That’s where the repair parts were located and I would need to find my way there eventually. This is where the Lord stepped in once again with a measure of Divine Providence and gave me a hand.
As fate would have it, another chap had been driving west on the interstate nearby when his headlights started to fail. Unable to have the repair made after dark, he made a request for the station owner to give him a lift to Houston for the night. That guy not only offered to pay the fee to tow my vehicle in, but also allowed me to spend the night at his house.
When his wife found out, she was not too happy having a stranger stay with them, but eventually conceded and let me sleep in the baby’s room. The little boy wound up crying half the night, but I was okay with that. I had been afforded another big dose of Texas hospitality and was extremely grateful for it.
New Years Eve Conundrum
Since the tow truck had dropped my car off at the Porsche/VW car dealership when we first hit town, I was given a ride there the next morning and planned my next move. Needless to say, it was the craziest idea on my agenda because I started to work on my car right there on the dealer’s lot. Kind of unbelievable, now that I think about it.
It wasn’t long before the service manager came out and shut me down. So I put all my tools and parts back in the car and was given the option to have repairs done in their shop. The cost was $200 for a new crankshaft (I was glad they even had it in stock), and another $200 to reassemble the engine. That was a $400 tab I didn’t have on my person.
On top of that, New Year’s Eve was approaching and I was told I could no longer stay at the couple’s house. They were going out for a celebration and had acquired the services of a babysitter. Not wanting me there alone with her, they suggested a stay at the local youth center which charged a reasonable fee of $12 for the night. Still, my cash had gotten really low by then.
Mom To The Rescue
Earlier in the day, I had contacted my mom and asked her if she could lend me the necessary funds to do the repair. She agreed and said she would wire said monies via Western Union.
The repair shop had finished the engine rebuild around 5 pm on that New Year’s Eve and just needed my payment for the repairs. I now faced the impossible task of reaching the Western Union Office and returning with the funds she sent me before the dealership closed. It was raining outside and no cabs were available when I called for one. The manager obviously refused to help my cause by letting me take the car out for that task before paying the repair bill, so I started feeling desperate. As a panic attack threatened my sanity, I had no other choice but to rack my brain for a last minute solution and finally came up with one that was way outside the box.
Grabbing hold of a big dose of moxie, I did the unthinkable! I let my devious brain raise the ante and force me into a mindset that had me thinking like a criminal or disreputable politician. I devised a plot that involved me sneaking the car out of the dealership without being noticed. Since the car was readily accessible outside the gate and I had an extra key in my wallet, I went for it. I walked out to the car without drawing attention, started it up, and then managed to make it off the lot without being stopped by car lot personnel or having the police track me down on the way to my destination.
So, I plowed through driving rain on slick city streets and made it to the Western Union Office, got the money, then left. Returning to the dealership, I anticipated a gathering of patrol cars full of officers waiting to arrest me. When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I gingerly pulled in, got out of the car, and gleefully ran up to the pay window. When the cashier went ahead and processed my payment without sounding an alarm, I breathed a sigh of relief and left. As I hit the I-10 expressway, I was blessed with a smooth sailing jaunt the rest of the way home and no more incidents to stifle my journey. Amazed by the fortuitous outcome, I surmised that my having all the dominoes fall into place at just the right moments just couldn’t have been blind luck, as the saying goes. I knew back then that I had received a helping hand from above.
Sometimes in our lives, quite often in mine, you need and get help from above. With that said, I must admit that I had no personal relationship with God at that stage in my life. My demeanor was such that I always made a mockery of church services and jimmied-up my prayers while confessing my sins or making alms. All of my required spiritual encounters were rushed through to get them over with as quick as possible. Sort of like going through the motions, so to speak.
Later on in life, that all changed. It began to sink into my feeble brain that God helps whomever He wants to, even while being rejected by that person or when given the shaft via the mantra of outright disbelief. After surviving some near death events and other potentially catastrophic situations, I eventually realized that the Lord really did care about me. He lent his helping hand whenever I needed it most and got my attention in the process.
As this story played out, I thought that one day I might like to tell others what I went through in written format, along with all the other convoluted tales that became an indomitable part of my life. Why so many strange events happened to me during existence here on planet earth, and why I am still alive to give an account of them, I will never know. If you are wondering if I have made these stories up, I can assure you they really are true events. My hope is are that the Lord will let me finish telling them all before my time is up and He is finished with me.
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!