Monday, May 3, 2010

GYPSY BAND

Bet you think this post is going to have a musical reference but au contraire my dears, I am referring to the various groups of people that roam through out many countries. Gypsies are defined as "persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin". I'm proud to say that for a brief time, I became a honorary gypsy.

In my much younger days while I was toodling around in my spiffy Metropolitan convertible, I made a trip from Florida to Ohio to visit family. The trip going and while there was pleasant and uneventful. Returning was another story.

On the way back to Florida, my cute car became ill. It started in West Virginia where a mechanic in a small town said my points and plugs needed adjusting. He performed the deed and sent me on my way running somewhat better. That got me maybe 100 miles when I again started chugging and spurting down the road again, very slowly.

I crawled into Virginia and again met a head scratching mechanic. My car was cute but not one most mechanics were familiar with. He said I needed new spark plug wires but had no idea where to get them. It would takes weeks to order them. He cleaned the plugs and points and again, I sputtered down the road.

Thus I lurched through the states one at a time heading south.I guess it was the ignorance of extreme youth but I was more annoyed than concerned. I was spending a lot of money on motels being fearful of driving at night.

Then on a lonely stretch of highway in Georgia, I was reduced to cruising along at about 25 miles an hour. I was beginning to get concerned. Every mechanic I saw just patched me up and sent me on. They did not have the parts needed. It was too far to turn back and I still had a long way to go to West Palm Beach.

It was early morning when I finally chugged into a rest stop on the side of the highway. In those days rest stops were merely wide spots on the side of the road with a picnic table and a trash can. Each time before I had at least made it to a town of sorts. Now I was worried for there was no town in sight. This was also way before cell phones.

A really funny looking van pulled around me and stopped in front of my car. It was actually a strange looking pick up that had wooden panels for sides and a wooden roof. Probably a homemade RV. A man sporting a head band, beard, and a loop ear ring got out and came back to my car. In those days only pirates wore ear rings. He said he had been following me and realized I was in trouble. He asked what the problem was and I told him.

We popped my hood and he took a look. About 6 vehicles of pretty strange description pulled off the road behind me. The cars and trucks were each pieced together with fenders and hoods of a variety of makes, models and colors. They were packed with people and belongings. There was little doubt as I surveyed the scene that I was surrounded by a band of gypsies. There was a brief moment of alarm as I was hemmed in but that did not linger. I sensed no threat.

Other men got out to help the fellow under my hood. When I explained the problem, they determined that there was a discharge between my plug wires and the engine. The leader showed me the spark as it jumped. He then rolled up a newspaper and shoved it between the wire and the engine. Not high tech but functional. I worried about fire but he assured me there was little danger.

When I started the car and with my newspaper buffer, it ran smooth as glass. By now my car and I were surrounded by men, women, and curious children. They said they were going to Miami and that I was welcome to travel with them in case I got in trouble again. Now I am normally an independent wench but was delighted with the company and oddly, trusted them completely.

As we continued, they nestled my little car in the middle of the caravan. I felt totally safe and comfortable for the first time since I had left Ohio. They maintained a rather slow speed and would periodically pull off the road to make sure my car was running OK. Since I had an uncle in Jacksonville, they said they would take me there. I am sure we created quite a stir toodling along as a colorful road hogging caravan.

We stopped at a rest area outside of Jacksonville for lunch. They invited me to join them for lunch which I gratefully did. They shared their food and I emptied my cooler of soft drinks. I told them I had spied a billboard for a Nash dealer and thought I could get the proper parts there. It was supposed to be on the same road we were traveling.

My gypsy band led me there with my little convertible still nestled in the middle of the pack. We all pulled into the parking lot as a mass. It was funny to see that the salesmen all stayed inside, noses glued to the windows gawking at the strange sight.

When I found out the service dept had the spark plug wires on hand, I went to my little band of friends to thank them profusely and to say goodbye. I stuck out my hand but was pulled into a smothering hug. Group hugs were shared and each in turn patted my head like a pet and made me promise I would be all right before they got in their odd vehicles and disappeared into the traffic.

Every year bands of gypsies come to Florida. Some to read palms, some to do odd jobs and some allegedly swindle people by contracting to do work but not coming through. You will never hear me bad mouth them as a group. The ones I met were a gentle, caring bunch that went way out of their way for a young woman in trouble. They asked nor expected anything in return.

I never saw them again but have never forgotten them nor their kindness.

27 comments :

  1. By some chance, if one of them should read this post, they will be properly thanked!! I think they were your guardian angels on that trip, Patti. You were lucky!

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  2. This is exactly the kind of adventure I like!! Thank you for this cheerful story!

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  3. What a fabulous story. I love reading tales from long, long ago tee hee when we were younger, as my grandkids say to me. I'm gonna be thinking on this one all day...how fun. Please could we have more???????????

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  4. You have certainly lived an interesting life and, obviously, angels of some sort are looking out for you all the while.

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  5. Angels unaware is what I was thinking. God tells us that He sends angels(dressed so we can see them)or maybe just the gypsies they were.
    I love reading your posts...Brings me back to the days of my childhood. I am not too far behind you dear, as 62 is probably the new 52...LOL
    Prayed for you as I heard that the weather in Arkansas was not good over the last few days. My cousins live in Siloam Springs. Not sure where anything is in your state, as I have only traveled thru it twice...and such a beautiful state it is....

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  6. Such an interesting tale, patti. What year was this? Your band of gypsies sound like people I knew who traveled the roads in a mishmash of wild vehicles in the late 60s and early 70s. I was on the road in 1973 in an old Chevy pickup with a homemade camper on the back.

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  7. When in Spain we watch a Gypsy dance performance. It was very interesting and colorful

    Around here I am only acquinted with the ones that come by with the great one time deals, which I never buy: some left over paving, a load of steaks, furniture not delivered, etc. These are not true gypsies, just plan ole con artists making a quick buck.

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  8. Hi. I came from Coward's Corner to say hello, and got stuck behind you on the highway to gypsy camp. Wonderful story.

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  9. You have had some really interesting experiences. Your adventure shows that you can't judge people by their appearance or your preconceived opinion of them.

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  10. What a wonderful story. Oh my, how often we judge people by the looks and our preconceived prejudices. Great for us to hear stories like this.

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  11. I love happy endings - We are interesting folks, us humans. "I will be afraid of you if you are different."
    As always interesting through out... Great job!

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  12. kenju,
    I sure hope so Judy. They were a very dear group of people. I had many people in luxery cars honk and flip me off for going so slow.

    Reader wil,
    Thank you Wil. I still smile when I think of them.

    Linda in New Mexico,
    Welcome to TNS. Isn't funny how kids today can not even imagine a world with out texting and computers. How did we do it?

    Olga,
    They gave me peace of mind and a feeling of security by tucking me into their caravan. Angel is a good name for them.

    Sandy,
    Thanks, they certainly were angels for me. I had to look up Siloam Springs. It is in NW Arkansas and I am in North Central.

    robin,
    This was in the very early 60's. My car was a 61 and it was still new when I had all the problems.
    Maybe they bought your old pickup.

    Nitwit,
    I know the con artists you are talking about. They would offer to reserface a drive and only paint it black. There are bad in every group. They often wintered in Florida. There are bad folks in every group.

    Lakeviewer,
    Oh how funny. Gee I am sorry we held you up. I know I did make a lot of people mad at my poky speed for I sure got a lot of horns blown at me and rude gestures.

    Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    That has been made abundantly clear to me many times through out my life. I try really hard to look for the person, not the clothes or vehicles.

    Linda,
    That is so true and so sad. I try not to use one brush to color a whole class. Wouldn't want it done to me.

    Grayquill,
    Isn't it silly how much importance we put on really superficial things. "Different" should be interesting, not frightening.

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  13. The saying 'you cant judge a book by its cover' came to mind when reading your post ...what a great story to relate ...I wonder if it would happen now a days.

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  14. What a neat story, Patti... You have met some wonderful people all through the years. What an exciting life you have had... Wouldn't it be neat to see those gypsies one more time---just to say THANKS again????? Nice People!!!!!

    We're having a great time at the beach. Wish you were here.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  15. Wow, how wonderful you were rescued by the gypsy backyard mechanics, good ole common sense and mechanical knowledge rolled into one.

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  16. Oh Patti, you have had an interesting life

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  17. What wonderful experiences you have had. And what a great story. I'm telling you, you need to write a book. I would buy it for sure.

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  18. Thanks for your visit, Patti! Every year Canadians come to my country to celebrate Liberation Day with us. They are not the soldiers themselves anymore, but their relatives.

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  19. You have an angel on your shoulder!

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  20. Angie,
    That has been shown to me so many times that I do believe it.
    Don't know if it could happen today. Sadly there is still so much distrust of those different from ourselves.

    Betsy,
    I am glad you are having such a good time and that you missed all the mess. Hope all is well in Crossville.

    Linda Starr,
    You know, that newspaper probably could have taken me all the way to West Palm. Glad I didn't have to test it though.

    4th Sister,
    I have been very lucky and blessed.

    Patty,
    Thanksl. Wish I had the where-with-all to put one together. I have a hard enough time with the blog.

    Reader Wil,
    I guess it is like having a sister country. You have traveled all over,have you ever made it to Canada?

    oklhdan,
    When you don't have too much good sense, it really helps to have angels helping you out.

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  21. What a great adventure you had! In those days it was fairly safe to hitchhike, you could expect a gentleman to stop if you had a flat, and we didn't worry nearly as much about having the perfect car as having a car that ran. :) blessings, marlene

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  22. Oh my goodness! What adventures you've had!! Your stories never cease!! This one is incredible! I didn't know there were gypsies here in the U.S. I've only ever seen them in Europe! This is simply a wonderful story! You are amazing! Love you, Janine XO

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  23. What a WONDERFUL story, Patti. Such caring and concern---all I can say is WOW! It does make me remember what Anne Frank said: "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." Your sweet Caravan of people certainly personfy the true goodness in people.

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  24. My dear sweet Patti all the time I was reading this I was in the car with you experiencing the ride....what a great writer you are...love the story.
    Thank goodness they were a band of good gypsys and like any other group of people we all have the good and bad ones no matter gypsy or what...
    I have missed coming by here....just got back a little while ago from the doctor. They will not release me until I come back next Tues..
    Sheriffs dept was not too happy but I can not stress about it or this ranch job.
    Love you
    Maggie
    Thanks honey for the sweet comments and concern for me

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  25. Stitchinbythelake,
    You are so right Marlene. There was a time when road travel was not dangerous. My brothers used to hitch hike everywhere with no concerns. Sadly those times are all but gone.

    Sniffles and smiles,
    Thanks so much Janine. Actually, Florida has a hefty winter population of Irish Gypsies.
    They are everywhere, just not easily recognizable.

    OOLOH,
    I adhere to that principal even today. I do believe most people are basically good. There are some losers for sure but we do out number them don't we.

    Grandmayellowhair,
    Glad you enjoyed the ride.I did too.
    The sheriff's dept ought to be good to you since you got hurt on the job.
    Do take care lady and don't rush it. Everything can wait.

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  26. I like how you describe it as lurching through several states

    I dearly remember the days when things were more annoying than worrisome

    bless your caravan of friends :)

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  27. Dianne,
    Yeah, wasn't it wonderful to have youth and few worries? Those were the good ole days.

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