Columbus Day of 1996 around 9:00 a.m., my dog and I set out for Corpus
Christi, Texas. I had scheduled job interviews in anticipation of
moving there after closing the sale of my house in Forth Worth. We
were traveling on I-H 35S. I was enjoying the drive until my dog,
Princess, tugged on my arm with her right paw. I exclaimed, "You want
to go out?" She barked.
As I began to slow down and look for a place to pullover, I said,
"In a moving car you want to go out?" She barked again; but by this
time the car was engulfed in smoke and had lost power. A discomforting
feeling hit me because we were now coasting in the middle of no where
with few travelers on the road.
I managed to direct the car off the road onto the grass. After cracking
a window, I took Princess and got out of the car. When I raised the
hood, the heat was unbearable. Fortunately, a gentleman saw my distress
and parked next to my ailing vehicle. He offered to use his cell phone
to call a wrecker. I agreed.
The wait was the beginning of an adventure that would be unforgettable.
Princess and I rode in the wrecker and my car was towed to a salvage
yard in Jerrell, Texas. The owner of the salvage yard made a phone call
and then told me it would cost $895.00 to repair the cracked head.
Damages apparently began a week earlier when someone had stolen the
radiator cap. He recommended replacing the timing belt. Considering
the value of the car, hail damage, and vandalism, I was hesitant to
Frantically I called my brother in Austin but got his answering machine.
I called my son in Arlington but he was at work. In the confusion I must
have left a wrong number because neither were able to reach me.
Neil, the salvage owner, had a ’79 Oldsmobile Cutlass with a T-top. He
had it priced at $600.00 but offered it to me for $400.00. Then he
offered $100.00 for my car, an ’88 Mazda with a moon roof. He promised
to send the money after the title transfer took place and there would
be no towing fee.
I had placed a call to my realtor. She was the only person to reach
me and agreed this offer was the only obvious choice I had for wheels.
She promised to wire $400.00 to me in Corpus Christi. I used my money
for an apartment to pay for this Olds’.
Neil said, "I guarantee you’ll make money off the sale of this car.
Somebody will buy it to make a low-rider." I thought, "Get real! You
gotta be kidding!" "What’s a low rider?"
The T-top didn’t impress me! There was a hole instead of a lock on the
trunk. The radio stuck out; apparently it wasn’t correct for this car
and it didn’t work. The 60/40 front seat had to be hot wired in order
to move the driver’s seat forward so I could reach the gas pedal! To
go in reverse, the gearshift had to be carefully held in place. The
power windows were unreliable so I left them up. Neither the speedometer,
air-conditioning, nor the gas gage worked. Later, I learned the steering
column was from a Monte Carlo. I was to believe I could make a profit
off this car?
Around 9 p.m., Princess and I were on our way again. The drive to San
Marcos was uneventful. However, as we were leaving San Marcos, I
discovered I didn’t have headlights! Until now, the road was well lit
by streetlights and lights from the traffic. I could barely see the
road and certainly not the exits. Anxious, I began crying and singing
praise songs. As I watched in my rearview mirror I cried, "Please,
Lord, may that 18 wheeler see me and pass around me." Fortunately
traffic managed to maneuver around me safely.
As soon as I could see an exit clearly, I pulled in to a service
station. There was a Constable inside who volunteered his help. He
checked the fuses. They were good. Then he told me, "Start the engine
and turn on the lights." I had lights! "Now flip the dimmer." Oops!
The lights went out. Apparently there was a short in the wiring. I
turned the car off and restarted it. With bright lights, Princess and
I were on our journey again.
We arrived at Howard Johnson’s about 1:40 on Tuesday morning, almost
seventeen hours after leaving home. I checked in at the hotel and
went to bed. I had a 10:00 job interview the next morning.
Tuesday morning I received my wake-up call. After the complimentary
breakfast I prepared for my interview and left the hotel. When I got
to the car, the trunk was open. The only thing in the trunk was my
dog carrier. It was still there. The key didn’t unlock the doors!
What to do?
I went back to my room and called a guy who had responded to a
single's personal ad I had placed in the Caller Times. He came to
my rescue and used a clothes hanger to unlock the door. This was
our first time to meet! Our only communications were by mail and
phone calls. Thanks Tom! I now altered all my plans.
The next morning, an apartment locator provided transportation to
view apartment complexes. I acquired a money order to place a
deposit. Apartment secured and a quick lunch, by 1:30 that afternoon,
Princess and I headed back to Fort Worth.
Not trusting the headlights on this Olds’, I planned an overnight
stay in San Marcos. So far, the return trip was uneventful; but we
weren’t disappointed! South of Jarrell (yes again), I heard a roaring
sound. I spoke out loud as I frequently do and asked, "Is that the
road or is it my tire?" Roar roar again! There was road construction.
Once more I asked, "Lord, is that the road or it is my tire?" A small
voice inside me said, "It’s your left rear tire!" Immediately I began
looking for a service station. I pulled in at the first one I saw.
When I checked my tires, I noticed the left rear tire was literally
coming apart! So that still small voice was correct. The station
attendant told me I should be able to get a used tire at the barn
I drove next door and the man had a tire he’d sell for $20.00. As
I walked around the car, I discovered the right rear tire was balding.
I asked if I could buy two tires at which time the man looked in the
trunk. He said, "Lady, you don’t even have a spare! I’ll give you a
rim and put the bald tire on it so you’ll at least have a spare.
Actually, you have three different sizes of tires on this car."
So what else is new? Princess and I were traveling on faith with
no spare! I needed to get away from stalkers and I trusted God to
Thank God the odometer worked! I could at least calculate mileage!
In Salado I stopped to fill the car with gas. Then the car would not
start. The battery was dead. I managed to borrow a set of jumper
cables and asked three guys who pulled up in a Mustang, "Would you
please help a lady in distress?" Reluctantly, one guy got in my car
with my dog. They got my car running again! I said, "Thank you!"
and left. I thought, "Okay, Lord, I should have enough gas to at
least get to Fort Worth where I can call someone if I have problems
again. And please, no more potty stops!
I arrived in my drive-way at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday with no concept
of the time it takes to get from Fort Worth to Corpus Christi or
vice versa. There had been too many delays to calculate accurately.
Friday morning I checked with my neighbors hoping one had jumper
cables. Nobody had cables. My neighbor across the street brought me
to buy jumper cables where I also received a certificate for $5.00
off on my next purchase.
Back at my house, I connected the jumper cables and we got my car
started. As I was backing out of my drive, my neighbor’s son
exclaimed, "You’re not going any where. Your right rear tire is
flat as a pancake!" I pulled back into the drive. Disgusted, I went
in my house and made arrangements with a nearby Texaco Station for
a service call on Saturday morning. The fee for the jump was $20.00.
After Saturday’s service call, I went to the battery store. The
cheapest battery was $35.00. I used the certificate. Thus far I had
$470 invested in this Olds’. The car ran fine with the new battery
but the other problems still existed.
On Monday I called the Star Telegram and placed an ad for this Olds’
to begin in Wednesday’s paper. The first day of the ad I was awakened
by calls for this car! I couldn’t believe the number of calls! One guy
wanted me to bring the car to show to him. He seemed real interested
so I agreed and I took Princess with me because I was going to an
area of town that was not safe for a woman alone.
Arriving at this guy’s place, he met us in his front yard, beer in
hand. He walked around the car asking questions. I was truthful about
the car’s faults, which didn’t bother him. He claimed, "I can work on
this myself." His body language told me he was hot for this car! He
asked, "Would ya mind bringin’ the car to where my brother stays? He’s
gonna buy it for me." I asked where his brother lived and was told near
Uncle Julio’s Restaurant. I knew the apartment complex. It wasn’t far.
He locked the door to his home and got into the front seat of this
Cutlass, his beer in hand and my dog, Princess between us.
I drove to the apartments and he got out and went to get his brother.
As the brother came walking toward the car, I could see he was tall,
over six feet, and husky. His Wendy’s uniform was a little comforting
to me. The brother looked the car over with less enthusiasm. Then his
ride drove up. The potential new owner told his brother’s ride to go
on; we would take him to work. Alright, I agreed. If he had the money,
the drive might be worth it!
Arriving at Wendy’s, the brother wrote a personal check for $600.00.
This guy banked where I did! What a relief! I left the brother there
and drove back to my house where I gave the key to the new owner,
Bobby. After saying my good-byes to Bobby and (chuckle) the Cutlass,
I went inside my house.
Next, I called the bank to be sure the check was good. As soon as I
hung up the phone, me realtor called and asked, "What are you doing?"
What timing! I exclaimed, "I’m getting ready to catch the bus and go
to the bank to cash this check for the car." She was excited that I
sold the car and offered to take me to the bank. By 2:00 p.m., I had
the $600.00 cash in my hands. What a surprise!
My brother had told me, "Somebody will buy it to make a low-rider.
You should at least get your money back." Sound familiar? Amazed,
my brother said, "Only you could that happen to." God turned a mishap
into a profit! This was literally a trip made on a wing and a prayer
with no spare. It was my brother who told me to write the story and
he also gave me the title. I owe him a gratitude of thanks. The story
was published online in the Canine Times Magazine from October of 1998
until March of 2003 when the site was removed. I was published with
my first submission of this story. However, the story does not end here.
Continue reading what happened next on our actual move to Corpus Christi.
FYI: I never saw the title to that car. Neil learned he had to do a title
search. I gave the address of the new owner to Neil, the salvage guy.