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    Entries in Winter (1)

    Friday
    Feb082019

    AN ACT OF KINDNESS

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of the ”Empress of Soul” and I think her powerful rendition of the National Anthem at the recent Super Bowl (LIII) stole the entire show — before the game ever began. Gladys Knight, to me, is a national treasure and seeing her Sunday evening reminded me of an interesting experience I had years ago.

    This is a Weiner King story. Kind of. Sort of. But not really. Jack opened one at an old Burger Chef in Warminster, PA, in the mid-70s or so. I worked with him to set the place up and hire employees. When it opened, I managed it until it was franchised. I’m pretty sure I lived in Sergeantsville, NJ, in those days and was still heavily into my MGB-GT phase. A few years earlier, I had purchased a beautiful red 1971 and totaled it some time later. Fortunately, I was able to keep it at a local body shop, where my father had a front-end alignment business. Eventually, I found a dull-colored, silver-gray, 1969 model that had a tired engine in dire need of a wiring harness. Hey, the price was right and I worked on my own cars back then. With MGs, you had to. In due time, everything came together. I took the perfect engine out of the wreck and put it in the ‘69. I found a harness at a garage that came out of a 1970 model. Unfortunately, those silly British changed their wiring schematic diagram color codes every single year and it took Stew Bacheler and me three days to get the alternator connected correctly. It sat in his garage in Three Bridges until we got it right. Meanwhile, before I did anything at all, that car was my daily driver and, of course, some of the gauges didn’t work. Because of that, I never knew how much gas was in the tank, so I topped it off quite often. Well, most of the time.

    One fateful morning, I cruised over the Delaware River, probably across the Washington Crossing Bridge, which would have been one of my alternate routes, but I’m not sure why. Stockton or Lambertville would have been more convenient, especially the 202 bridge, except it was toll. About a half mile, maybe less, into Bucks County, PA, the car decided to spit, sputter, and roll to a stop directly in front of a mansion-like house. Oh, great, I thought, whoever lives there is going to take one look at my car and tell me to get help somewhere else.

    I remember parking as close to the edge of the road as possible. Trees lined the front yard. There were mounds of snow on the ground from a storm long gone, left in the chilled shadows of those trees. Pockets of dirty snow were scattered everywhere I drove, but I don’t remember it being bitterly cold.

    I walked up the long driveway and knocked on the huge door, not knowing what to expect, other than a person with money. The door swung open and there stood a tall man, whisking eggs in a big bowl.

    “Can I help you with something,” he asked, with a slight look of apprehension.

    “Yes, my car ran out of gas.” I pointed to the car, which was almost unnoticeable between the snow and trees. “Could I please use your phone? I’ll pay you.”

    It took a few seconds. “Ahhh, yes! An MGB-GT.” That broke the ice, so to speak. “I’ve owned one or two. Come on in…” MG owners were part of a club. I followed him to the kitchen. What a beautiful house! “I’m making a vegetable omelet. Would you like some? There’s plenty.”

    I declined. “Thank you, but you eat.” It was nice enough of him to invite me into his home and I certainly didn’t intend to interrupt him. While he prepped, cooked, and ate his breakfast, we made small talk. He asked me about the car. He asked me about my job. I told him about Flemington and Warminster. I asked him if he had ever heard of the Weiner King. I asked him about his job.

    When he finished eating, we got down to business. We went outside and he opened the garage door. There sat a beautiful Jaguar sedan. He put a 5 gallon metal gas can in the trunk, pulled out the car and told me to hop in.

    “There’s a station across the river. I’ll give you a ride there and you can walk back. Just put the can in front of the garage when you’re finished.” I knew he had things to do and I needed to get to work. Halfway across the bridge, he said, “Look, it’s too cold out. I’ll give you a ride back.”

    I filled the can and carefully placed it in the trunk. We got back to his place and off he went. I couldn’t thank him enough. When I finished pouring the gas in the tank, I placed the can in front of the garage door and headed on down the road.

    I never forgot that day, nor the gracious man who helped me, and from that day forward, I developed a stronger appreciation for Gladys Knight and her music. Despite never seeing her in concert, it was on that particular morning that I got to know one of her Pips.