The Adventures of Me & My Shadow #19 in TX, OK, KS, NE 7/30/98
From Coleridge, NE, Hi Everyone! After the last letter was sent, I did some more exploring on the air station and found the aircraft hangar where I had worked and a lot of sidewalks and a few streets that go nowhere today but I am sure they were in use 44 years ago when NAS Corpus Christi was my world. This started me reminiscing and I have to tell you about the lizards. I first got to know lizards in 1943 on an island in the South Pacific, I find they make good pets and they are good at controlling insects. When I first arrived at NAS Corpus Christi I was married to Sarah, we had a three year old, David, and not much money. I applied for Navy housing on the base but had to wait for a house so we rented a garage apartment in someone's backyard, it was cheap, it was full of cockroaches and they were everywhere. At work one day I was out on the flight line waiting for the planes to come back. I watched a lot of lizards in the grass catching insects and the thought crossed my mind that these lizards were just what we needed to get rid of the cockroaches. I went to the Navy Exchange and found a shoe box, caught a half dozen lizards about 4 or 5 inches long. When I got home I left the box on the front seat, figuring on telling Sara of my plans for the lizards before bringing them into the apartment. I got to watching TV and she decided to go somewhere. When she got in the car she saw the box and couldn't resist opening it to see what was in it. That was when I heard the terrible scream, I ran out and saw her jumping around waving her arms like she was fighting a monster. Once I got her calmed down and told her of my plans she was all for it but by now all but one lizard had decided to vacate the premises. The one remaining lizard was setting on the back of the front seat looking for something to do so I caught him and took him into the apartment. He went right to work and I wanted to treat him right so I put a glass of water on a widow sill so he could get a drink if he needed to. (thought about it later and it was a stupid thing to do, lizards can go without water for a long time) Well one morning I found him in the glass dead, I guess he jumped in to commit suicide. That was the end of my cockroach control. We moved onto the base and left the cockroaches behind.
This trip started in late evening on 7/26/89 after the Iron Angels banquet in Corpus Christi. After the meal, the raffle, the last pictures were taken and the good bye's were said (about 10:00 PM, I find night driving to be a good option in hot weather). I went out and woke Gus up and told him he was in charge and told him to take us the shortest way to Lincoln, NE for a short visit with aunt Ethel. It has been a few years since I last visited her. In 1946 I leaned pretty hard on her and uncle Eugene, I stayed with them for a while when I was attending an aviation school in Lincoln to get my license to work on civilian aircraft. Uncle Eugene passed away several years ago, I had a great time while staying with them and their two boys Dick & Bob. From Lincoln it will be on to Coleridge NE.
It was just too far out of the way to go the fastest way, it would have taken us on interstates most of the way. I had filled the tanks with $.89 gas on the base, got some for $.99 before leaving Texas then saw some for $.89 in Oklahoma after I had filled up. I think my days of cheap gas are over for awhile.
The sun was up before I got to Fort Worth ( I had stopped once for a short nap) I stopped for gas, ate breakfast and did my morning chores so I was feeling good when I headed through Fort Worth in heavy rush hour traffic. I guess everyone else was feeling good also and I actually enjoyed it. The traffic was moving at just under the speed limit and as I looked ahead a turn signal would come on and right away he could move over. It happened all the time, no horn honking or speeding up. One time up ahead at an exit, I see this car slowing down trying to make up his mind if he wanted to exit, he was in that big V that splits the traffic, the cars on either side of him slowed down also, leaving both options open. He finally made the exit, I suppose that both of the drivers behind him at some time had been there and done that, I know I have, more than once, so they were patient with him. What a wonderful way to start a new day!
In Oklahoma I found the same drought conditions as in Texas and the same over 100 degrees temps. The grass alongside the road had turned brown and in several places there had been grass fires and it was black.
It was in this environment that I came upon a hitchhiker, he looked like he needed me, so I pulled over and he came aboard. He was thirsty and asked if I had any cold sodas in the refrigerator he could buy? I said "no but there was cold water there if he wanted some". He preferred soda so I told him I would soon have to stop for fuel and he could get a soda.
Remember I told you all that I learn a lot from listening to what people say. His name was Andy and I learned a lot in a short time from Andy. He was from Mississippi, had been working there installing insolation, he was 28 years old and had to quit his job as it was affecting his health. In the past month his father had been killed in a car wreck, he had been diagnosed as having leukemia in it's late stage and was on his way to Great Falls, MT where his sister lived to find out if she had a bone marrow match. The doctors had told him that even with a bone marrow transplant his chances were not good to be alive in 1999. If he took surgery as an option he would lose both legs, 3 ribs and three vertebra from his back. He had been on the road for one week and I was the first driver to pick him up who was not drunk. I almost decided to take him all the way to Great Falls but he said if I would drop him off on I 70 in Kansas he would try to get to Denver and take I 25 north. He told me a lot about leukemia and how he had lived with it, not knowing was it was. He was in pain, I could see it in his eyes.
We were almost to Kansas when I stopped for fuel, Andy got a soda and some crackers to eat. It was then that my troubles began. I tuned the key to start the engine and nothing happened, this had occurred before and it took me a long time to figure out that the starter solenoid must be the problem. I will get one while I am here in Coleridge and put it on. This starting problem had happened before, in real hot weather after driving slow for a while. At first I thought it was the solenoid that I had installed to lock the starter out so the engine could not be started while I was plugged into shore power. After messing with it for a while it would start and I would go on. This was the first time it had failed to start after high speed driving. I told Andy I thought it would start after cooling off. We waited for awhile and it still would not start so I told Andy that I was calling my emergency road service to have them tow it and have the starter solenoid replaced. I recommended he should get back out on the highway to find another ride. As I was waiting for the tow truck to arrive I got it started but had to wait for the tow truck to sign his ticket so he could collect some money for his trip to my location. I sent the tow truck back and headed north again, Andy must have gotten a ride, I never saw him again. When you think you have problems just think of Andy and your problems will disappear. After talking to him I again counted my blessings, I wish him well.
The day after I arrived in Coleridge it rained, I of course took credit for bringing the rain, the farmers needed it, I did not. The crops in Kansas & Nebraska look very good after seeing Texas & Oklahoma. The farmers here say they expect a good harvest but the market is very low and looks like it will stay that way, they can't win. If I tell them about Andy they should feel better.
Till next time, Dallas or Dad if it fits. 7/30/98

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