Tale #7 — “Night Rescue”

GRANDPAS TALL (TRUE) TALES

Tale #7– “Night Rescue”

Ken and Lois had married a few months before. They were trying to decide what the Lord wanted them to do. Ken had completed one year at Baptist Bible College (BBC) in Springfield, Missouri. He and Lois planned ministry but the details of education and future place of service were still unknown to them.

Finally, late in the summer that year, they decided to move to Springfield to begin another year of ministry training. Living in Cedarville, Ohio, where they had originally thought of training, brought work but no clear path to school. BBC seemed like the right choice now. They packed up their things.

At this point Ken and Lois had two cars, the 72 VW “Bug” Ken had received for a graduation gift and the 68 Plymouth Duster, a gift from Grandpa and Grandma Pierpont that was passed down to them. All their belongings somehow “fit” into the two cars along with the large U-Haul trailer that the Plymouth pulled along behind.

Our family domicile at the time was at Pleasant Hill, Ohio from which both Jane and I taught school and pastored in Winsor, Indiana, some fifty-seven miles away. Kevin and Nathan attended school at Tabernacle Christian School in nearby Bradford, where Jane taught. My teaching position was at Troy Schools where I taught just down the road from our home in “P Hill.”

The final morning the kids were with us they brought their “rig”, loaded to the gills, by our house to say good-bye. The “Bug” was full with just enough room for Lois to squeeze behind the wheel. The Duster, complete with fully loaded trailer, looked like an accident going somewhere to happen. Prayers and good-bye kisses behind them, they took off!

About four-thirty, that summer afternoon in August, the phone rang: “Dad, this is Ken. Were stuck! The transmission went out of the Duster just as we crossed into Illinois. What should we do?”

“Well, can you get off the highway?”

“Yes, we went to the next I-70 exit in the V-Dub and had a wrecker haul the car and trailer to this motel where everything is side-by-side in the parking lot. We are renting a motel room to have a place to stay tonight.”

“Okay, get some sleep and we’ll organize a rescue party and be out after you. Where are you?”

“Were at the first exit west of the Indiana line in Effingham, Illinois.”

With that he was gone. I stood holding the phone for a few seconds. What to do? Jane and I talked it over. I buzzed into town and got some cash to use for the trip.

“Are you going to take anyone with you?” Jane asked with some clear concern in her voice.

I turned to Kevin who was nine at the time. “Did you want to come along? I need a rescue team partner.”

Kevin was eager to come and hurried to get some things together. I wondered how it would all come out but went about getting tools and supplies together without saying much. Nathan would stay behind with Mom who began preparing lunches the moment we knew the trip was on.

It was about dark by the time we were cruising through eastern Indiana some fifty or sixty miles from our house. We were driving our 69 Plymouth Fury that we had owned for several years now. It was in good shape and had the 318 V-8 engine with the Chrysler Torque-Flight transmission. I made up the rescue plan in my head as we drove.

About an hour into the darkness, Kevin and I were surprised by a big brown object standing in our lane of I-70. As the headlights fell on it, “the object,” a big buck deer, slowly ambled off the highway into the median. “Wow,” I said to Kevin, “We would have needed a rescue if we’d hit that thing.” In his customary silence Kev nodded.

Without further event we passed by “Big Indie,” as we referred to Indianapolis, and moved on west, using most of the 70 MPH speed limit. In the trunk were our “tools of the trade.” We had wrenches and other hand tools, flashlight, jumper cables, tie-downs, sleeping bags and my dads heavy log-chain. I wondered if it would be enough.

By now we were munching some of the sandwiches Jane had prepared and belting them down from the Thermis of coffee. Kevin said little but strained against the seat belt as we motored west. It was a reassurance to have him along. I never considered any of my boys “just a kid.”

“Dad, were coming up on the Illinois line,” my partner reported. The time was just before midnight. We had about three miles to go. I checked the gas gauge–enough and to spare but we’d have to take on fuel in the morning for the return trip. I wondered how much the VW had.

When we pulled off the highway the truck stop/motel was in plain sight. So were the loaded-down rigs. The trailer was still attached to the disabled Duster and the “Dub” was sitting beside them. Nobody around.

Checking inside, we got the kids room number and “motored” up the steps and knocked on their door. They came to the door, expressing shock: “You’re here already?”

“Right,” I replied, “but we are tired.” We pulled out the sleeping bags from under our arms and crashed on the floor after a few minutes of conversation and around a few “goodies” Ken and Lois had.

Morning came and about seven o’clock we went down into the parking lot and stood by the vehicles. We gathered round to try to decide what to do.

“I-57 is right over there. If you want to go back to Moody, Ken, take the Dub and we’ll bring your things later. If you want to head on west, there’s I-70 and we can bring your things to Springfield. If you want to come back and stay with us or take your apartment back, that’s okay too.” I waited for their answer. It was obvious we had all prayed and wanted the Lord’s direction. Kevin and I stood by as they talked it over.

“Dad, I think we should go back.”

“Okay,” I replied. We can ask the Lord for a church for you. Thats a possibility you may want to consider.”

“Well, how do we get back, Dad?”

“We came to bring you,” I replied. Let’s get started.”

I jumped into our bronze-colored Plymouth Fury and backed it up to the front of the disabled Duster. As I did everyone expressed surprise. The boys and I got the log chain out and hooked it to the Dusters front frame and to the back axle of the bigger car. Lois looked on wide-eyed. I think she was gathering in what we were attempting but didn’t especially want to think about it.

When we finished “harnessing” the cars together we stood back and surveyed the scene. The big U-Haul trailer was still hitched to the back of the disabled Duster. That would mean the brakes on the Duster would have to do all the stopping: the big Plymouth, the trailer and itself! Of course the big Plymouth Fury would have to provide all the power. If either driver lost his concentration there could be a big mishap.

We shifted the load around so Kevin could “ride shotgun” with Lois in the VW. Ken would be “all the brakes” in the Duster and I would be “all the power” in our car. Flashing lights from any vehicle would be an indication that we needed to make a stop. The log chain was long enough to allow about an eight-foot space between the cars. It made quite an unbelievable sight as we slowly eased away from the motel parking lot: brown Plymouth with green Duster in tow followed by the lumbering trailer and finally the little blue “Bug” with wide-eyed Kevin on the front seat beside Ken’s very scared young wife at the wheel.

We had planned a breakfast stop at the first fast food restaurant we came to. It showed up just back inside the Indiana line. They had gasoline too. To get into its parking lot we had to run down an exit ramp, negotiate a traffic light and make a broad sweeping turn to the left and then center ourselves up in the large lot.

Down the ramp we went, as I draped my arm out the window and gave the “slow down” signal to Ken. We did all right at that stop. Now we had to make a full stop at the traffic light. I signaled Ken again. We rolled slowly on. I signaled again. Still we slowly rolled on. Finally Ken brought us all to a stop but I was well out into the intersection. Mercifully, motorists seemed to understand. We got no angry blasts from any horns. Now we eased into the parking lot.

Ken remembered to keep the chain taut as we slowed to a halt. A slack log chain could be stolen while we ate and our “operation” would be disabled. As we stopped and disembarked, heading for breakfast, it occurred to me that we had finished the first three miles safely. Just another two hundred or so to go! I tried not to think of how we were going to get through busy Indianapolis.

Our family comradery across the breakfast table included some talk about how to improve the coordination of both our acceleration and our stopping. If you have ever seen a car under tow by another at which practice neither driver is very good, it is funny only if you are not personally involved!

We decided to drive “up to speed” so as not to attract too much attention. That meant hurtling down the highway at about sixty miles an hour, with an overall length too frightening to dwell upon. Before we began and at every stop we gave God thanks as we implored His protection of safety.

Somehow it ended up being the middle of afternoon rush hour as we careened down the interstate through the middle of Indianapolis. Kevin had taken turn about riding both with Lois and me. As we hurtled through “Big Indie” Kevin, watching out the back for Lois bringing up the rear, remarked about the heavy traffic all about us. “Dad, is what we are doing legal?” I glanced around, not too sure myself. Then I tried to answer him: “I don’t know son, but if it is, it shouldn’t be!

Since that day, so many years ago, I have thought about our “night rescue” and all that it entailed. No police officer encountering us asked us to stop. By God’s mercy, we had no mishap. About supper time we pulled the rig safely back into our big circular driveway. Lois bounced in behind us still dutifully following along. We were all tired but we were all safe and we had caused no danger to anyone else that we knew about.

The end result of our “night rescue” led directly to Ken’s call to a nice country church just a few weeks later. And he was able to continue ministry training. Be sure to watch for God’s way out the next time you are involved in the middle of a bumpy ride!

Comments

  1. I can testify this did indeed happen. I love you Dad. I can’t believe Nate did not get to get in on this…. God has been so good. Those were such difficult times, but you were always at your best in a crisis. Thank you so much. I don’t know where I would have turned without you. Thank you so much, Dad.

  2. I’m a friend from Evangel. I love you guy’s stories. They continue to remind me of times where God has taken care of us.
    One of our stories were an Edsel heading North to Michigan again. Brakes went out and we stayed in OH for awhile. God ended up leading us to back to Michigan later to Evangel. Praise God!

  3. Hi Dad,
    I just love the way you tell stories. It makes it seem like an adventure rather than a trial. 🙂
    Keep it up.

Trackbacks

  1. […] My Dad tells a great story of a time I often remember. It still kind of blows my mind we actually did this. Thanks for the great memories Dad. Just envision two large cars, a full U-Haul trailer and a log chain and then go read “Night Rescue“. […]

Speak Your Mind

*