As I become more seasoned in life, I think more about what a miracle life is.
Today, I’m not talking about the miracle of life in current times. I’m thinking back to the miracle of surviving my early years — my under-30 years.
Recently, I was flooded with memories of my youthful days, specifically life without a car for a period. Oh me. What I — what we — went through in those days.
Around 1975, Becky and I decided to sell our Pinto station wagon. Yes, this young family of three had a station wagon. We were struggling, so we sold our family car.
We lived in the King Square Regal Apartments on Irving Boulevard in Irving. We had all bases covered regarding survival without a vehicle. Well, I guess it was just one base. A grocery store was within walking distance of our home.
Church? Friends would provide transportation.
Work? That was the biggest concern. I was a reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald. How would I get from Irving to downtown Dallas?
A friend loaned me a bicycle. I rode that bicycle from our apartments to “downtown” Irving. I parked it behind a business, then walked across the street and boarded a Continental Trailways bus that took me and a group of other commuters to downtown Dallas.
I would then walk to the Dallas County Courthouse. I was criminal courts reporter for the Times-Herald, and I would start every day at my press room desk in the courthouse.
After a while, the bus driver learned that I walked to the courthouse, so he volunteered to drop me off there every morning. He drove near the courthouse on his way back to Irving, so he could drop me off there after everybody else debused at the bus station.
After completing my courthouse duties, I would walk several blocks to the Times-Herald office and start writing my news stories.
Of course, I was always focused on finishing my stories so I could walk several blocks to the bus station and catch a bus back to Irving.
I wasn’t always successful. There were days that the last commuter bus had left the station and I was stranded in downtown Dallas.
Stranded? No. siree, Bob. Not me.
On those days that I missed the last bus out, I would walk to the closest entrance ramp to Stemmons Freeway. I could be wrong, but I think it was Continental. I would hitchhike out of downtown Dallas.
Are you beginning to see why I’m talking about the miracle of survival?
I had a spot under a street light. Whenever someone stopped for me, they got to see me and, more importantly, I got to see them. No, I didn’t get in the car with everybody that stopped.
Somehow, I always made it home safely. Can I repeat it? Miracle.
There was a time I got very concerned. A man in a pickup truck picked me up. He stopped at every liquor store he saw. He would go inside the store for a few minutes, then come back to his truck. He would drive away, then stop at the next liquor store he saw. He never purchased anything.
I didn’t know where we were, what he was doing and when — or if — I would ever make it home. I finally told him that I had to get out of his truck because I thought I was about to be sick. Actually, I thought I was about to die because this man was just not right.
Something strange was happening and I didn’t want to be the topic of a news story in the Times-Herald the next day.
We later got a clunker of a car and oh how wonderful it was. But my days as a hitchhiker weren’t over.
When I interviewed for a job at the Sherman Democrat in 1977, I didn’t want to drive my clunker to Sherman for the interview. I rode the bus. If my interview lasted too long and if I couldn’t make a Trailways connection from Sherman to Dallas, I would just hitchhike.
Guess what? After the interview, I ended up on Highway 75 with my thumb in the air. My biggest fear was that my soon-to-be-boss would drive by and see me hitchhiking. What would he think?
Here’s what happened, and to this day I’m simply amazed at how it all came together. I got a ride from Sherman to Dallas – to Interstate 635. And from there, I got a ride to Irving.
Did you catch that? I was hitchhiking on 635 and I got a ride somehow, and somehow I made it all the way to Carroll Holt’s Paint & Body Shop in Irving where my clunker was parked.
Here’s where I get my biggest scare. It was early morning hours and this kid of a man was getting into an old car. The police arrived. It took me a few minutes to explain, and soon I was on the final leg of my long, long journey — a two-mile drive from my friend’s business to home sweet home.
Back in those days it was life, just doing whatever I had to do to survive, not really thinking about danger. And I don’t remember how I made it home most nights.
Yes, I know how I made it home. Miracles? Absolutely.
I had a praying wife at home. She got lots of practice back then and I know that’s the reason this man is a seasoned man.
Sometimes you have to be a miracle to know what a miracle looks like. I know what a miracle looks like.
Jim Hardin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.