The music coming from
the Model Garage was a testimonial of the season. The radio was
Christmas carols, giving
the needed festive feeling for Gus and Stan as they were working hard to
up the last several jobs
before they closed up for the following Holy Day. A white Christmas was
to be a sure thing
as a few moments before, a special winter weather announcement had
the radio program telling
all residents in the wide spread area to be ready for a significant snow
that was due this
how's it going? It's getting close to 4 o'clock and I'd sure like for
us to get closed up."
"I'll be done in just a
few minutes with these new spark plug wires. Is George Knowles picking his
up this afternoon?"
not until after Christmas, but it would sure be nice to not have to finish
it when we get back. There
will probably be more
jobs waiting for us if the forecast is right."
shop phone rang and Gus stepped over to answer it. He listened for a
moment, asked several
questions, made a
quick answer and then hung up.
Stan, that was the state police on the wire. My old friend, Johnny Carter,
has broken down about
12 miles from here
and has asked me to come out and help him." Now Gus is not a family man,
never married. So, with his sister
living in far off Denver, and no other family, he
takes great pride in
friends. They, in turn, all know that should misfortune befall any one of
them, they need only to call
and Gus will do
everything he can to help.
Stan started to ask if
Gus would want him to go, but before he could ask, the phone rang again.
a brief conversation, Gus hung up the telephone and turned to Stan, saying,
"Well, we have a
second call to
attend to as well. I need you to run out to Liberty Corner and replace a
blown tire for one of
Let's see…you take the service pickup and whatever you need to put another
sedan. There should be a used tire on the rack that will fit. Sorry to
have to send you out,
but I want to attend to
Johnny Carter myself. I haven't seen him since he went off to the
Stan and Gus quickly checked the tools and supplies they each needed and
then locking up,
Stan started out to help
Mrs. Miller and Gus left in the wrecker to meet up with his friend.
Leaving the garage, Gus noticed the snow was beginning to come down
lightly. Since everything was
going smoothly, he
confidently continued on. As he approached the place where Gus was told
was at, the wind
was beginning to pick up.
"There's the car. I hope
I'll be able to get him going. A broken generator belt won't be the hardest
to do, but with the
way the wind is blowing, it's not going to be easy."
rolled down his window and called out, "Hey, Carter. Hey, Johnny Carter,
are you there?" He
pulled the wrecker
up in front of a modest sedan that was almost covered up with new snow.
his brakes and turning on
the truck's flashing light, he stepped from the cab, pulling the collar of
coat up around his neck.
is that you? Honey, stay in here. I'll be right back," was the answer to
The two old friends shook
hands. Then Gus asked, "Who's with you?"
Johnny's face was seamed with worry. "I'm awfully glad to see you, Gus,
although out here in the sticks is
hardly the place to
renew a friendship, is it? That's my 8 year old daughter in the car. My
away a year ago after my
discharge from the army, and I'm trying to raise Nancy by myself. We were
our way to the
cities to see a doctor as she has two lame legs. She wears braces, Gus and
response was immediate. "Hey, that's why I'm here. What are good friends
for? Put her in the
wrecker to get warm
while I pull the hood release and fix your car to get you going."
Turning on his lantern, Gus looked in on the belt that had supposedly
broken. The shock of what he
spilled over him like ice water. There was not going to be any quick fix
The corner of the
generator had broken off and the belt had merely dropped down. With Johnny
noticing any problems as
he drove, his lights and heater blower had drained the battery and with no
water pump working, he
stalled along the road and was unable to restart the car.
"Johnny, the housing of the generator is broken and I can't fix it out
here. But I can hook up your car
to the wrecker and
we can see if we can get back to town. Get yourself in the truck so you can
It didn't take Gus long to turn the wrecker around and get the chains hooked
up to the front of
Johnny's car and
ratcheted up. Releasing the car's hand brake, he slipped into the truck
and her father. It
wasn't until that moment, though, that he noticed the added intensity of
both the snow
coming down and the
Looking at Nancy, Gus said with a wink, "Well, young lady, we may be in for
it. I don't think that I'll lose
traction but it's
going to be hard to see. I sent my assistant on another service call in the
direction so I won't be
able to have his help."
was speaking his thoughts out loud as he slowly negotiated the slippery
road. A roadside sign
showed up through the
slanting snow suddenly giving Gus an idea of where he was at.
"Johnny, do you remember that little burg about a mile off the road up
here? There's not much there
but maybe we can find a
room or some place to stay the night. At least, somewhere that's
"There's the turnoff, Gus. Easy does it. Seems to me I remember an old
garage there, too." Johnny
was trying to help Gus
see through the gloom of a dark night filled with quickly accumulating snow.
little town's street lights were barely visible through the storm as Gus
drove into the small
community. But a house
with bright Christmas lights seemed to beckon them to stop. Gus parked, and
leaving Nancy and her
father in the warm truck, he trudged through the snow to the front door.
answer to his knock, the door was opened by a man in overalls. "Why, Gus
Wilson, what are you
doing out in this
weather? Come on in here!"
stepped into the front room recognizing at the same time, one of his
customers who did in fact
own the small
garage in town.
Lon. I'm on a service call and the man and little girl who are with me are
the ones I'm trying to
help. But I think
the storm is too severe to go on back to town so I'm looking for a place we
can get a
couple of rooms."
Lon Fredrick's wife, who had just stepped into the front room along side her
husband said, "We
wouldn't think of
having you go anywhere else. Get your friend and his daughter in here and
have supper with us. I'd
love to have the little girl here to fuss over. We have plenty of room.
it's Christmas Eve
and we have no one to share this special evening."
added, "Gus, once they're in here, let's drive your wrecker and its load
down to the garage. It's
only a block and we
can easily walk back here. I've got room where you can pull in and we can
it after the storm lets
helped Nancy and her father into the house. Then, with Lon showing Gus
where to drive, it
didn't take long at all
to put the wrecker and Johnny's car inside, close the doors and then walk
Gus made a quick phone call to the
Model Garage and was able to catch Stan so that he wouldn't
about Gus and could head on home himself.
visit at the Fredrick's home that evening was a vintage Christmas delight.
The soft winking lights
on the tree, Lon
and Alice sharing their delicious meal with Nancy, Johnny and Gus amid the
and friendship of
their home and the singing of Christmas carols over by the old pump
Gus decided it was a
mighty fine way to celebrate Christmas.
Alice had shown Johnny and his daughter where they could sleep, Lon put a
fresh log in the
fireplace to add to the
glow of the evening as he and Gus had decided to sit by the fire for
summed it up when he
said, "You know, Gus…there had to be a reason for you being in this area,
picking up that car, deep
in the snow and all. Well, my wife and I were really lonely tonight with
kids grown now and gone
their own ways. I reckon I'm thankful for the storm because it brought you
here and you've brought
happiness to us tonight. Thanks for coming by."
realized anew just how special the season of Christmas is and how he wished
it could be kept
that way all year long.
to all and to all a good night!!"