Three college classmates who didn’t have two nickels to rub together decided to hitch-hike to B.T. Biggart’s home in Reynoldsburg, OH for the Thanksgiving holiday.
One of the rides was like the one in Steve Shoemaker’s story “Hitch-hiking” posted just minutes ago here on Views from the Edge. The three of us sat in the back seat of the driver’s big 1960 Ford 500 while he and his buddy passed the bottle between them, belted out country music, and swapped stories about women that are un-publishable. Eventually, by the grace of God, they dropped us off on the interstate in downtown Cincinnati.
Soon after we had stuck out our thumbs on the Interstate about 3:00 a.m., a Cincinnati squad car pulled over.
The officer asked for identification.
I had no wallet. My wallet was back at the college.
The officer declared that he could take me in for vagrancy.
“What’s your name, son?”
“Gordon Stewart, Sir,” I answered with my heart pumping faster and my knees about to buckle.
“Where you from, Gordon?”
“Broomall, Pennsylvania, Sir.”
“What’s your father do?”
“He’s a minister.”
“Marple Presbyterian Church in Broomall where I grew up.”
“What kind of church?”
“What’d you say your name was?”
“Did your father serve in World War II?”
“Where did he serve?”
“Saipan, Guam, and Tinian in the South Pacific.”
“What branch of the service was your father in on Guam?”
“Army Air Force, Sir. He was a chaplain.”
“What’s your father’s first name?”
“Kenneth – Kenneth Campbell Stewart.”
“O my!!! After all these years! Red Stewart! Chappy Stewart! Well, I’ll be darned!
“You can go son. Just get a ride out of here as soon as you can. God bless you.”
So the cop who could have taken me in for vagrancy celebrated a vicarious reunion with his old Chaplain while we hitch-hiked to B.T Biggart’s for Thanksgiving – thankful for a serendipitous rescue from the boys in the Ford 500 and from the holding cell for vagrants.
Thanks, Dad! And thanks, Officer Anonymous! I never got his name. Grace abounds…even when you have no money and no identification.