Late on a crisp fall evening back in the 1960's Allen and two buddies, Bob and Ed, were headed home along Highway 395 in California's eastern High Sierra. The three friends had spent a long and satisfying weekend fly fishing the June Lake loop but the next day, Monday, was a work day for all three and as much as they hated the thought they had to get home. Bob was driving his cabover camper with Ed in the passenger seat. Allen had elected to crawl in the back and take a snooze until it was his turn to take the wheel. He took off his shoes and shirt, laid his billfold and pocketknife on a shelf next to him, snuggled under a blanket and was instantly asleep.

When they pulled into a gas station in Big Pine, one of the string of small towns that line the Owens Valley, Allen awoke with an urgent need to relieve himself. Unbeknownst to the others who were busy filling the pickup's tank with gasoline and the thermos with coffee, Allen, groggy with asleep, slipped out of the back of the camper and in stocking feet gingerly made his way to the men's room. The tank full, his two friends got back in the truck and headed south.

One can surely understand Allen's consternation when he was finished with nature's call: No truck, no shirt, no shoes, no money, no identification. Just a bitterly cold wind that had his teeth chattering in seconds.

As luck would have it—and Allen seemed always to be blessed that way—right then a car pulled in for gas. The driver, seeing him forlornly standing by the highway shivering, asked: "Hey, man, aren't you cold?" After Allen had explained his predicament, the fellow volunteered that he was headed for Los Angeles and Allen was welcome to come along. Some four and a half-hours later his benefactor generously dropped Allen at his home in Long Beach.

When a half our later Bob and Ed finally drove up one can only imagine their shock to see Allan there at his front door to greet them.

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Copyright 2000, John F. McKim