The Road to Heber
I saw a clip on the toob Tuesday featuring Willard Romney in a campaign swing through Colorado. Relax, this isn't going to be political. The scene was in downtown Craig, Colorado. Memories came flooding into my mind and I was transported back sixty years in a flash.
Craig is in the northwestern corner of the state.
I had finished my first year of college, and I wanted to go home to Colorado Springs. Funds were limited, of course, and I was calculating the least costly and most likely way to get there. Hitchhiking was seriously frowned on in Washington State, and I had been told that a trooper was more than likely to run one in if he was caught thumbing it. Worse, the same was said to be true in Oregon.
I had a friend who was driving from Seattle to Eugene. He said he would drop me off in Portland if I chose to go that far with him. I did, and he took me to Union Station where I bought a ticket to Boise. (I have a couple of totally other stories involving Union Station in Portland. But I digress.)
Once in Boise, I removed myself on foot from the train depot to the highway at the east edge of town. Here I lofted my thumb and waved in a friendly manner to the passing motorists, "passing" being the operative term. But no! Ere long a gentleman in a nice shiny steel-grey 1952 Plymouth stopped and picked me up. Our trip to Pocatello was uneventful and the conversation revealed that my benefactor was a traveling salesman making a few calls in southern Idaho cities. When we arrived at the point of his next appointment, Mr. Gould, you will allow me to call him Mr. Gould? parked the car and told me to mosey toward the south edge of town and if I was still there when he came by in an hour or so, he could haul me to Salt Lake City. At least this part of the journey was down-hill. As I stepped out of the car and turned back to thank him, I saw him take a revolver from the side of the seat on his left and place it in the glovebox.
In a bit less than an hour, along came the Plymouth. Mr. G stopped the car, I threw my suitcase in the back seat and we were soon on our way south. It was dark when my transportation came to an abrupt end. I was dropped at a junction and pointed toward Colorado. Memory does not allow me to tell you how long I waited, but eventually a man in a somewhat battered '46 Chrevolet pickup truck stopped. The truck may have been blue, but so much of Utah was spattered all over it that one could not be sure of that. The driver told me he could carry me as far as Heber City. I had no more than settled into the passenger side, suitcase on my lap, when I noticed as he turned rather too far to his right to look at me as he talked that he had only the left eye. The right one, I suppose, once occupied the empty socket on the right side of his nose.
Left hand only was on the steering wheel since his right one was busy holding the bottle. The bottle obviously held not cola. Congenially he extended the bottle toward me and offered me a drink. I declined, hoping that he would not take that as an insult. "Suit yerself," said Cyclops, as he whipped the shift lever into top gear and jammed the accelerator pedal pretty close to the floor. Most of you have probably never driven the road to Heber, but suffice it to say that it is very mountainous country and the road, at least in 1953, was very crookedy. And I was soon quite terrified. Nevertheless, this hill jack knew no fear, and probably knew very little else. But he knew the way to Heber.
(To be continued.)
Image of Heber City: Wikipedia