Uncommon compassion in Silverton, CO Part II

Since our 1991 pickup wouldn’t start, we left it at Cunningham Gulch and bumped down the road to Silverton in Ron Blackburn’s truck. Strangely, we soon spotted a tow truck coming toward us with lights flashing. Ron slowed. “Do you want to talk to him?”

“Sure,” Ted said. “What are the chances of seeing a tow truck on this road?”

Ron stopped and rolled down his window, and when the driver pulled alongside, explained our situation.

“We get lots of marmot damage up here,” the driver said. “We’re on our way now to pick up a car with that kind of damage in the lower parking area.

“We’ll get it taken care of, and then we’ll look at yours.” He handed us his business card which said: “Don Curnow’s Towing Service: We specialize in over-the-edge recoveries.”

After the wrecker pulled forward, Ron turned his pickup around and followed its flashing lights up the mountain, but for some reason, Don didn’t pull into the first parking area.

As we passed it, a man ran out and flagged us down. “That wrecker’s for us,” he said.

Ted assured him we’d let the driver know, and Ron inched forward, trailing the tow truck all the way to our own pickup. Don and his employee jumped out of the truck and came back to talk to us.

“Since we’re already here,” Don said, “we’ll just look things over on your vehicle.”

He slid under the truck, examined its underbelly, and scooted back out. “No sign of any hoses or lines chewed. Might be the fuel pump.”

“I put in a new one about a month ago,” Ted said.

“Maybe it’s the fuel filter then.” Don shrugged. “Anyway, we charge three hundred dollars an hour, plus $75 an hour for my assistant. Since we’re on your time now, we’ll take your vehicle to town and come back later for the other car.”

I heard my hubby take a deep breath at the price, but we knew we needed to get our pickup off the mountain. He nodded, and we watched as Don and his helper hooked up the truck, grunting at its solid weight.

As we followed the wrecker, Ted called the Canyon View Motel owner, Joe Jeppson, who said we could leave our truck parked in his lot, but he didn’t have any rooms available for the night. With our faithful truck being pulled down the mountain in front of us, we decided to focus on the room situation later.

The trip to Silverton proved uneventful, and after they unloaded our GMC at the motel, Don presented us with a bill for eight hundred dollars.

Hoping our insurance company would later reimburse us, I wrote out a check, and Ron again offered us money because, he said, “helping others is what life’s all about.”

After we thanked him for all his help, Ted finally convinced him we’d be okay now that we were in town, so our Mississippi angel left for his own lodgings and a well-deserved rest. Like most angels, we never saw him again.

Fortunately, the motel across the street accepted pets and had an available room. We did laundry, ate dinner, and went to bed, hoping against hope our truck would start the next day.

When Sunday morning dawned, we headed across the street. This time the engine didn’t even sputter. After trying to start it five or six times, Ted suggested we call our friends Taylor and Jenice to pick us up.

Honestly, I would almost rather have a root canal than put someone out, but when I called, Jenice said, “No problem, girl. We’ll be there as soon as we can.”

When they arrived, we chucked our suitcase in their trunk, hopped into the backseat with Oggie and headed home, chatting all the way. The round trip to Silverton was 320 miles, but they refused any gas money. They were another answer to our prayer.

On Monday, Ted ordered a fuel filter which arrived in a few days, so on Saturday we headed back to Silverton in our car.

While he was installing it, I stood nearby in case he needed assistance, but soon the motel owner came out to help.

Joe was about our age and sported a long, graying ponytail. He spent hours working on the truck with Ted, but after Ted finished putting in the filter, the truck still wouldn’t start.

Finally, Joe said, “If it’s okay with you, I’ll call one of my friends. He works at the school as a custodian, preaches on Sunday, and runs the Bearded Wonder Service on the side. He gets off work about three.”

While we waited, we ate lunch and tried to figure out options to get our disabled truck home in case the Bearded Wonder didn’t live up to his name.

Finally, Kevin Baldwin, with his long gray hair, beard, and horn-rimmed glasses, showed up and within minutes had figured out the problem, a fuse under the dash.

He went off to buy a package, returned to install one, and the truck started like a dream. We were stunned.

To this day, that simple solution remains a mystery since the men had already checked the fuses and everything else they could think of.

As I followed Ted home that afternoon, I considered the extraordinary compassion we’d experienced in Silverton. It was balm to my soul, and I could picture Mom on the other side, finally free from pain and, surprisingly, not all that far away.

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