The Travelers

My father, James K (Jim) Long, never met a stranger. To him strangers were just friends he hadn't met. I always admired his ability to strike up a conversation with a person he had just met and talk as if he had always known him or her. The only thing he enjoyed more than visiting with new friends was doing something to help them.

In November of 1962 Dad was working at a gas station in Oskaloosa, Iowa. One evening a young couple from the Philippines stopped at the station. They spoke very little English but managed to explain that they were having mechanical problems with their car. Dad found the problem and ordered the part, but it would not arrive until the next day. The couple were relieved that the car could be fixed, but were distressed about the overnight wait for the part. In their broken English they explained that the repairs would take all the money that they had left, so they couldn't afford food, a motel room for the night, or gas for the remainder of their trip to Chicago, Illinois, where they were moving to be near family. Without a moment's hesitation Dad told them, "Come home with me. You can stay with my family tonight."

Gratefully they accepted his offer. Dad called home to let Mom know he was bringing two new friends home for dinner and to spend the night. Mom scrambled to ensure that there would be enough food for two extra people, and to find linens and blankets to make a bed for them.

When they arrived Dad explained their situation and told us that they spoke Spanish and very limited English. I was taking beginning Spanish in junior high school, so between my little bit of Spanish and their little bit of English, we managed to communicate reasonably well and were able to enjoy their visit immensely. After dinner we played Canasta (a card game) and got acquainted, then said a family prayer to request protection for them for the remainder of their travels, and went to bed. Sadly I don't remember their names and I don't remember everything we said and did that night., but I will never forget the joy we felt by leaving our comfort zone and stretching to communicate and provide the needed help for these stranded travelers.

We said sad farewells the next morning when they left with Dad to go back to the station and wait for their car to be fixed. When the repair was finished, Dad gave them some money for gas to get the rest of the way to Chicago. They were grateful for and awestruck by his generosity. When they asked how they could repay him, he said simply, "Just pass it on."


An Indelicate Subject
DIANE - Poem

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Dick Pellek (website) on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 10:44

You had an awesome Dad. This is a heartwarming story. Thanks for brightening my day.

You had an awesome Dad. This is a heartwarming story. Thanks for brightening my day.