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Henry Custer

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   Recent stories by Henry Custer
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Good Folks, They're Everywhere!      Download this Full Story
By Henry Custer
Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Good Folks are all around us. Nationality, language and color of skin have no real meaning in the grand scheme of things.


    In the winter of 1982-83 my wife, Jody, and I were on a camping trip in Mexico. We had entered the country near McAllen, Texas, traveling light with our four wheel drive pickup, sleeping bags and a box of groceries. We traveled southwest through Monterey, Durango, Mazatlan, then back north up the east coast of the Sea of Cortez to Guymas. There we took the ferry west to the Baha.
   The first day in Baha South we met three bikers on the beach, whale watching. They were from Germany, attending the flight school in Phoenix, Arizona. Having rented two motorcycles they had ridden down the Baha for the weekend. That night when we met them again, we were all camping at a gas station. There was no petrol and the attendant had gone home. We learned that the delivery truck would be there in a day or two. There was no telephone service, so they really had no idea when the truck would arrive.
   Meanwhile, we shared our last gallon of drinking water with the three young German students. Only one spoke English with any degree of understanding.
 
   The next morning we learned, from other travelers, that there was no petrol for a long distance up the road. We had about four gallons in the truck, not enough to make it to the next available gas. Upon learning of a private airfield just up the road a few miles, we siphoned a couple of gallons of gas from our vehicle so the boys could get there and possibly scrounge some fuel for the next leg of the trip towards Phoenix. They were getting pretty concerned as they had to be back for Monday morning classes. When they were saying goodbye, the one who spoke English was very appreciative. Then he happened to mention that in Germany we would probably not receive such help from the locals if we were in their situation. I actually relished telling them my story.
 
   In 1952, I was alone, late at night on a country road just south of Wiesbaden, Germany. I was riding a 1929 NSU, coming back to the air base after a few beers at a country bierstube. All of a sudden the lights went out, the engine died and I rolled to a safe stop in complete darkness. I was concerned, but my concern turned to near panic as I heard a group of men walking my way. You must understand, this was just seven short years since Germans and Americans were killing each other on sight, no questions asked. And these guys, turned out there were four of them, were about as drunk as I. And I didn't understand the language. It was a tense few minutes as we tried to converse in the dark. Finally, one on them lit a cigarette lighter while another proceeded to remove the front of my headlight with his knife blade. Most all of the lighting and ignition wiring terminated in the headlight housing, with the ignition switch on top of the headlight. After several minutes they had found the trouble. Much of the wiring, being 25 years old, had the insulation worn or rotted in places. It had shorted out, burning the wires pretty bad in places.


   Before we ran out of lighters and matches, they had managed to separate the wires keeping them apart with wads of a newspaper they happened to have. There was a blown fuse which we wrapped with tinfoil from a cigarette package. There was no battery, the lights and ignition being powered directly from the magneto. When I kicked it over I think we were all surprised when it started. I couldn't understand much of anything that was said, but I did gather that I was being warned to get it properly repaired as soon as possible, but this should get me home, (although the headlight bulb was burned out). I expressed my gratitude and we all went on our merry way, a little more sober and a lot more understanding of each other. I made it the last few miles without the benefit of a headlight.
 
   Back in the Baha, after the boys left, we camped at the station for another day and night, with only a small amount of water and food we panhandled from southbound Americans. When the delivery truck still had not arrived, we struck a deal with a southbound car. They had almost a full tank of gas, but a blown head gasket. We towed them over three hundred miles back to San Diego for their tank of gas, which got us to the next town for fuel. They both spoke Spanish so we ate better those next two days than we had during the whole Mexican adventure. Although we never saw them again, the couple we towed in the car invited us to their wedding about a year later, then we received a birth announcement the next year.
 
   The German students sent us a card from Phoenix a week or so later. They arrived barely in time for class that Monday morning. He again mentioned that if we were in the same trouble in Germany, we would not likely get the kind of help they received from us.
 
   I don't believe that for a minute. I've learned that people are people, and they are mostly good folks, nationality, language and color be damned.
 
   If you want adventure, get out among them!

Copyright © 2001 by William H. Custer. All rights reserved.

  

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Reviewed by Jackie Brooks 5/26/2003
Definitely a case of 'Do as you would be done by!'
Reviewed by Sid 4/27/2002
This is certainly the writings of a person who receives ‘good’ because he is ‘good’.


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