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Hospitality Plus
by Walter Redden

Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, or bust!

Where’s Ft. Mitchell? To zero in, get a city map of Cincinnati, Ohio. Go straight south across the Ohio River five or six miles. There you are -- Ft. Mitchell, where our company retirees, “Scott Free,” were having an annual get-together at the Drawbridge Resort.

My wife Annette and I headed for Ft. Mitchell, starting out from our home in Jackson, Mississippi, going north on I-55. Since we got a late start, we stopped overnight in Memphis.

Up early the next day, we left for Nashville on I-40. We were traveling in our two-door V-8 Olds with only 20,000 miles on the odometer, making good time.

Suddenly at rush hour, in Nashville, our car came to a complete stop. Cars and trucks were flying by, and it was the last weekend in August with temperatures at 100 degrees F. Now What? We felt embarrassed and lost. We also had the feeling if we got out of the car we might be killed. A lot of thoughts ran through my mind, and they were not neccessarily good thoughts.

Annette, who was searching the landscape, said, “There is an auto repair shop.” So our next project then was to move the car off the Interstate and get to the auto repair shop before it closed for the day.

We were lucky and dodged the traffic, left our car, and walked down the embankment to the auto shop. The owner was in the process of closing, but was nice enough to wait in order to check us into his shop when the AAA truck arrived.

Our next question was, “Where is the closest motel?” The answer was, “About a mile down the road.”

We retrieved our overnight bags and started walking to the nearest city bus stop, not knowing really where we were going. But at this point, another lucky thing happened. We spotted the golden arches, picked up our step, and headed for McDonald’s just two blocks away. Home away from home!

As I was ordering from the counter, Annette was engaged in conversation with a lady who was drinking coffee. The lady was also grading papers. We joined her and became quick friends. She was a teacher, and since we were teachers, we had a lot in common.

This kind lady, whose name we learned is Betty, offered to take us to the motel. That’s not all. She also came the next morning and joined us for breakfast, then took us back to the auto repair shop. A good Samaritan is hard to find, but we found one.

My question is: Would you have taken two strangers in your car to a local motel? I doubt it.

The auto repairman diagnosed our problem -- the Olds had a faulty exhaust pipe and muffler. So we said, “Fix it.” This diagnosis didn’t seem correct, but what could I do? (And the man had “Jesus loves you” on the wall.)

By mid-morning we were off to Ft. Mitchell.

We were breezing along the Interstate, enjoying the traffic and sights, when suddenly the Olds began to jump and sputter. This went on for several miles, then the car came to a complete stop. We started up once again and took the first exit (Bowling Green, Kentucky), nursing the irritable thing till we could find an auto dealership.

A tech rep poked around, then told us: “You have a sock in your gas tank.”

Wow! I now realized we were about to be had again. What could I do?

The mechanic quickly said, “I know your problem. I can fix it in a jiffy.” (Oh, how I wished I were back home in Jackson.)

He walked to the rear of the car, took the gas cap off, blew into the gas nozzle, and said, “You’re ready.”

Seems when he blew air into the system, the filter dropped. This really was the problem, and he didn’t charge us a cent. He wished us a happy, super trip to Ft. Mitchell, and we were on our way. Yes, Ft. Mitchell or bust!


Now retired from teaching and the book business, Walter Redden enjoys volunteer work for his church and other civic organizations. He’s a native of the Mississippi Delta.


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