Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon

I got beat up pretty bad by the cops in El Monte, California, because I had a southern accent and they thought I was drunk.  It took me a little while to recoup.  I needed a break to heal up, Dad told me that he had some work for me to do, when I got to feeling better.  I healed up pretty good, maybe a scar here or there, but still in one piece.  The work for Dad was boring to me, after living on the road.  Dad didn’t pay much, so after a couple of months, I started selling cars again.  After six months, I was ready to get back on the road and sell some tools with my buddies.  I left Jacksonville in my ’76 Datsun 260Z with a 5 speed, nice car for a cruise, went to Atlanta to look for my nephew Glen.  He was 15 and his Momma told me he had left home and went to Atlanta to live with his sister Patsy.  When we hooked up, I told Glen to load up, come with me, let’s go sell some tools.

From there we went to Hardy, Ark. to see Gary, but Rae told us that he was out on the road, working with the crew, somewhere around Albuquerque, N.M.  I remember us taking a bath in the Spring River near Hardy, Ark. then heading to Albuquerque.  We got there about daylight.  We called the company 800 number and found out they were staying at the Red Carpet Inn on I-20, in Albuquerque.

Tex was glad to see me.  He was just coming out of the shower, when we got there. He handed me his towel and said “Here hold this” and streaked around the hotel, just wearing his cowboy hat.  He said that he was ready to get this day started right.

Arnie’s crew had about twenty head, uh, disciples might be a better word.  Arnie always had a strong grip on the bible, he was a real bible “thumper,” it was contagious, most of the guys had started out one way and come back around to living right when they were with Arnie.  Arnie welcomed me back, we held hands and had a group prayer meeting in the parking lot, then everyone left to go out to work, we were leaving Albuquerque and heading for Flagstaff, Arizona.  We agreed to meet up at the Red Carpet Inn.

Tex and I reminisced with about 2 six packs of Schlitz, and a truck load of tools headed for Flagstaff.  Tex flashed me one of his pink joints and I put it in my hat band to smoke later as a “victory joint” after we dropped our load.  As luck would have it, we ran out of gas, 1 mile from the exit to Flagstaff.  Tex told me to calm down, that he could pee in the tank and fill it enough to get us to the exit.  I laughed at him, he said “It’s true, I’ve done it before.”  I thought he was being crazy, told him I wasn’t going to watch, so I walked up the hill and sat under a tree.

Just has Tex started peeing in the gas spout on side of the truck, an Arizona Highway Patrol car pulled up behind him.  Tex acted like he was so shocked, he grabbed his heart and fell backwards on top of the Highway.  In just a few minutes they had an EMS helicopter out there, then they life-flighted Tex to a near by hospital

I just sat back under tree, I knew that another Jack truck would be coming up behind us sooner or later; I couldn’t leave the truck on side of the highway with a load of tools.  I kept thinking about smoking that pink joint.  After about an hour, another patrol car pulls up, they let Tex out.  He’s carrying a 5 gallon can of gas and wearing one of those blue wristbands that they put on you in the emergency room.  He waved bye to the patrolmen has they left.

Tex said that they checked him out; they told him that he just had “gas” of all things.  Well, it was after 3 pm, we hadn’t even made a pitch yet.  Then we drove into Flagstaff about a mile and I see a cowboy looking dude standing on his porch at a Trailer Park.  I was thinking that my Daddy owned a Trailer Park and he had plenty of money.  We got him for $2,500, made it to the bank and hammered the check.

Living on the road was our game, to be able to afford it; we had to earn more money.  We didn’t want to wake up tomorrow without a load but the crew was almost out of tools, sparking an idea when we met back up with everyone up at the motel.  We were concerned that we may not get anymore tools for the next few days to a week.  I told Arnie that we had another load sold and that we needed the equipment off the truck of anyone that was hanging out at the motel and not working.

That’s how I met Wayne Henry, he was a good guy, sorry Wayne, it was just business.  Tex and I left the motel to make it look like we really had the load sold, but we really just wanted to have a load on the truck for tomorrow and leave the rest of the crew waiting on the truck driver to deliver more equipment.  We were ready to go play pool somewhere and smoke that joint.

After getting more beer, we drove about 100 yards and saw an Indian dude wearing a hard hat and a bandana, on a bulldozer, he was wearing a lot of turquoise jewelry too and that’s what drew my attention.  He climbed down off of the bull dozer, gave us $2,750 cash and a $20 dollar bill to buy some more beer.  We finally got to smoke that joint.

We went back to the motel and pulled the same trick, we got a load off of Allen White’s truck, Wayne’s brother n law.  Next morning is Friday, Me and Tex are one of the few with a truckload of equipment; everyone else wants to leave Flagstaff before we order more equipment, because it was a small place.  Tex and I dropped Allen’s load to a lady that owned a Western Wear store, while we were shopping for new “JB Stetsons.”  While I’m trying on hats, Tex was bust stealing hat pins.

She wanted to know what “that was” on our truck.  When we told her our story, she wanted to know if she could buy it for her husband, he was a mobile blacksmith.  Then with an empty truck, we were ready to travel too.  It felt good to be back on the road after about 6 months.  Glen and I drove about 3000 miles to get there and I had sold three truck loads in two days.

Tex and Gary wanted to fly home for the week end and wanted me and Glen to drive their trucks to Salt Lake City, Utah.  I parked my car at the airport long term parking, gave them 3 months advance rent and told them I didn’t know for sure when I would get back.  The airport was just a small mountain with the top bulldozed off of it.  Before everyone went home for the week end, Wayne asked me to drop off the U-Haul trailer that they had hauled equipment in.  So we dropped the U-Haul trailer right off the Interstate, behind a gas station and left.  Just me and Glen, one truck in front of the other, we each had a coolers full of bottled beer.  We took off through the Grand Canyon, heading north, looking for something to get into.


At a cross roads we came up on a stand of Teepees, with about five pretty young gals (I’m pretty sure they were Navaho’s) selling trinkets and souvenirs.  They were dressed in buckskin dresses.  What a spot for a party..

We had beer, women and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the tape player, not mention the Colorado River just yards away.  We all ended up in the river, when the girls Mom showed up, instead of raising hell, she took off her clothes and jumped in with us.

What they say about Indians can’t hold their liquor is true enough.  After about two beers apiece they weren’t ashamed to shed their clothes and go swimming.  Ever time I turned around I was trying on a turquoise ring or bracelet, or necklace, those girls got so drunk they didn’t care.  The insides of some of them tipi’s can be mighty nice.

Glen and I sold “made in Taiwan, Indian Jewelry” to the guys on the crew, for the next couple of months.  A 6 hour drive to Salt Lake took us about 12.  Glen ran out of gas soon after dark and we drove the last 50 miles with me pushing his truck, bumper to bumper, about 60 miles an hour up the interstate, after dark.



When Glen and I get to Salt Lake, the first thing Arnie asks us is “Where’s the stuff that was in the U-Haul?”  Huh?  Nobody said anything to us about it, we were just told to dump off the trailer because they owed back rent on it and didn’t want to pay.

We rented a mustang and shot back down to Flagstaff.  The Chevron dealer still had the trailer stored out back of his station.  I let Glen out around the corner to slip up on the trailer from behind to check it out.  Meanwhile I pulled up to the gas station and kept the owner busy by acting like a drunk asking for directions.  I stood in such a way, that the guy’s back was turned towards Glen.  I could see Glen walk up and he held his hands palm up to signify that he didn’t see anything in the trailer.  I noticed a dumpster behind him and waved at the dumpster with one hand while pulling my hat off with the other, to make it look like I was just wiping sweat off of my head.

Glen got the idea and searched the dumpster.  He found the cardboard box that held all of our sales literature, made in America stickers and fake serial numbers, plus the bogus warranty cards.  That left the hoist jacks, big heavy 30 lb. jacks that we needed for our engine hoists.

I looked around the guy’s back and saw them stacked in the corner of his garage.  I got animated with the guy and started laying on the drunk, lost tourist act, pretty thick.  I did the hat trick again, holding my hat with one hand, wiping my brow with the crook of my arm, while pointing to the location of the hoist jacks.  Glen caught on and just as soon as I got the guy to walk to the front of the store to point out where the interstate was, he started loading the jacks.  I would act real ignorant because Glen had to make four trips to get them all.  “How far did you say that Interstate was again?  The guy would point at it about 500 yards away and say “Its right there, you can’t miss it.”  I would come back and say “Are you sure that’s the one that will take me back to Atlanta, cause Atlanta is a long damn way and I don’t want to get on the wrong road.”  I could tell the man was getting aggravated with me, but I think he had the patience of Job, he said “Well that’s I-20.  I-20 runs all the way to Atlanta.”  Then I would come back with something asinine like “How far is the next gas station, cause I don’t want to run out of no gas, you know.   “Is that a dry county, cause back home we got lots of dry counties?”  Finally Glen came around the corner and gave me the thumbs up.  I would have liked to have seen the man’s old face when he went looking for those jacks.

Anyway, mission accomplished, we loaded up and got north bound, back across the south rim and down the canyon.  This time we only had one cooler full of beer when we stopped at the crossroads to see our Navaho girl friends.  It was just as well, cause the girls were in school or something, it was just mamma and mamma acted like she was glad to see us.  After an afternoon dip in the Colorado, we continued our trip.  When we pulled in to Salt Lake, every body wanted to know what kept us so long.

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