TexasEscapes.comWe Take Texas Personally
A Texas Travel, History & Architecture Magazine
Towns by Region
Ghost Towns
State Parks
Historic Trees
Gas Stations
Water Towers
Post Offices
Old Neon
TE Site
Site Information
Recommend Us
About Us
Contact TE
 Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
Tow Trucks
and Snugglers and Snuff, Oh My!

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
There are all kinds of people in this world. Some days I think that most of them are good and some days I think that most of them, or anyway many of them, are not so good. The truth, obviously, is that the world is filled with people who can be both good and bad and that there are a few very good people and a few very bad people scattered about just to keep things hopping.

There is, for example, my father. My Dad has always been a great one for helping people. One time he picked up a whole family of hitchhikers – a mother, a father and two little children – and brought them home. He fed them dinner, made them "cowboy beds" in the den, fed them breakfast and gave them some money "for milk," and then took them back out to the highway to continue on their way.

A few days later one of us children discovered that all our piggy banks were empty. After accusing each other for a bit we realized that the hitchhiking family must have taken it all – probably a big fat ten bucks altogether – and were we ever mad! Our Daddy had brought them home, made sure they were fed and warm and gave them some money – who knows how much, but for sure a bunch of money -- and drove them back out to the highway in the morning. And they stole our money from our piggy banks.

What, my father asked, had we been planning to do with it? Well! We were saving it. For something. It was ours! What, my father asked, did we imagine they were going to use that money for? Hmm? Food, maybe? For their little children? Granted, it wasn’t very nice to take it, but it was understandable. And since we had no specific plans for that money, what difference did it make to us? We knew that piggy bank money or not, we were bound to get supper every single night and had clean, warm beds to sleep in and a place to live. Why, it might have been pretty nice if it had occurred to any of us to offer them our money. Any other questions? Nope? Okay then.

I am not saying that my father is one of the people in this world who are good through and through. That doesn’t run in our family. But he, like most people I think, does have a pretty wide streak of good running right through the middle of him, a fact of which we are all very proud. When he would help somebody he would always point out that he had been helped in the past with one or two things and that he expected he might need some help again in the future. As if he had a good deed savings account into which he made deposits against future rainy days. Now that I’m grown up this makes good sense to me, and I try to deposit into my own account when I can. I know that I have made withdrawals. As a matter of fact, there was one three day period in my life when I drew rather heavily from that account.

A long, long time ago I was leaving an unhappy marriage, driving with my three babies from eastern Pennsylvania to Oklahoma, all by myself, confused and heartbroken and probably a little in shock. When I was young there wasn’t anything I didn’t think I could do. Although "think" might not be the right word. I mostly ran on gut instinct and I’d had pretty good luck with that method of operating right up until I used it for choosing a spouse.

If I had been thinking it might have occurred to me that it was going to be a very long drive home in a not very good car. It might have occurred to me that there wasn’t only me to consider, but that I might give a little consideration to the children as well. If I had been thinking I might have figured out a way for us to fly home to Oklahoma. But I was worn out, fed-up, and confused. All I knew was that it was time for us to go home. So I loaded the car with suitcases and stuffed animals and coloring books and we went. Which was fine for 500 miles or so. Then, somewhere in Virginia, our not very good car decided that enough was too much.

We had enough momentum to roll up the exit ramp to the outskirts of a town. We slowed to a stop, got out of the car and started walking through dust and grasshoppers in the direction I hoped would bring us to a telephone. Don’t remember who I thought I might call. It was August and hot, hot, hot. I had an eighteen month old on one hip, a three year old on the other hip, and a five year old holding onto my belt loop, trudging along bravely beside me. I began to think for the first time that we might have been better served if there had been a little planning involved in this whole venture. But we were there on the shoulder of that Virginia road and there wasn’t anything to do but put one foot in front of the other and see what happened next.

What happened next was that a car pulled up beside us. It might have been a car full of bad guys, kidnappers, or murderers, but to our great good fortune it was a lady with her mother. This lady took us under her wing in the best possible way. She expressed interest in our situation without being judgmental, without pointing out to me that I was a fool (at best) for putting my children in such a situation. I remember she asked if my family knew what I was doing and I broke a sweat and lied through my teeth, "Oh sure, we do this all the time."

She took us to a motel, asking politely if I thought this one would be all right. I realize now that she was asking if I had the money for it, which I did. She pointed out the nearby restaurant and convenience store and arranged for her mechanic to tow and repair our car. She even stopped by that evening to make sure we were fed and clean and safe and had milk. In the morning she came back to drive us to the garage. She brought each of my pretty children a pair of sunglasses which they thought were very wonderful. At the time, I was grateful and relieved and if I thought much of anything in my bewildered state it was, "See, things work out."

Now I am well and truly grown-up and fully recovered and I shudder to think about the fool that I was and the way I stumbled blindly through that whole ordeal. Now I know that it wasn’t Chance that Mrs. B. saw us and stopped and helped us when we needed it. It wasn’t something I should have taken for granted. It was her conscious decision, born of a giving and generous spirit. She stopped what she was doing, disrupted her schedule on our behalf, asked a favor of her mechanic. Mrs. B. rescued us, tucked us in safe and snug and made my confused, wide-eyed children smile and laugh. These were the first things that Mrs. B. did to help us. She did the kinds of things for us that my father had been doing for his strangers all those years. Later on that day there would be bad guys and state troopers and a little more adventure. And she would help us again.

Part II: Broken Down in Tennessee next page
© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" - February 1, 2005 Column

Shop at Amazon.com!
Privacy Statement | Disclaimer
Website Content Copyright ©1998-2004. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: February 1, 2005