A few weeks ago Steve and I were invited to be participants in the Long Beach Daisy Lane Parade. Although the experience itself was quite a treat, an extra bonus was meeting local celebrity, Southern California television’s Troubleshooter Judd McIlvain, who was riding in a beautiful convertible. Judd and I exchanged a few pleasantries, and he was quite complimentary about the issue of the Signal Tribune that I happily gave to him. I also had the chance to meet his lovely wife, Linda. Since our meeting Judd and I have stayed in touch. Last week he sent me a very sweet email telling of experiences during his Christmas trip to Illinois. With his permission, I now share it with you. Enjoy, and Happy New Year to you all!
The fickle hand of Jack Frost created the worst blizzard on Interstate I-40 in New Mexico and Texas since 1970, according to local officials. It was a complete white-out with winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour as it swept snow across the ice-covered freeway lanes.
My wife Linda and I were traveling in our Mustang toward a Christmas vacation in Illinois. The snow was coming down so fast that it was like someone pouring flour from above. We started following two snow plows on I-40 in New Mexico until they turned off at the Texas border. Now we were on our own.
The snow covered lanes also had an icy topping. My speed dropped to less than 20 miles per hour, and Linda watched for the right side of the roadway as I tried to drive down the middle of the lane. .
It was now dark, and there were still semi trucks and cars on the freeway. The large trucks began losing traction on the icy lanes. We were stalled behind jack-knifed trucks for about two hours. Some of the trucks tried going up the off ramps to truck stops, but they could not make it up the inclines. We decided to stop at a truck stop, so we were following two semi trucks, and they stared sliding back down the ramp toward my small Mustang. I put my car in reverse and was able to get back to the freeway ahead of them.
We finally found an exit to the very small town of Vega, Texas, that was on the old Highway 66 route and had three small motels. We stopped at the town’s only flashing red light, and a deputy sheriff came up to the car and said the motels were all full, and to follow him to the community center that is now a shelter.
When we arrived at a small building the deputy directed us inside and drove off. We were given a cot, a small blanket, and a bottle of water.
Then a stranded Greyhound bus pulled up with about 35 more folks, and then the National Guard and sheriff’s deputies brought in about another dozen families from stranded cars. There were now about 80 folks in this small community center. It was a strange mix of people. Families gathered in groups, and the younger folks told stories about bus rides. The National Guard just stood by. Our little dog stayed up all night at the foot of my wife’s cot and stood guard.
One family was from West Africa, and this was their first time in the USA and to see snow. Also, the first time to sleep on cot in a shelter.
The little town of Vega was truly a harbor in a blizzard. The population trippled that night. A special thanks to the folks at Vega, Texas.
Some families were trapped in their cars all night in the snow drifts, but they were found safe the next day.
I tried to thank the sheriff’s deputy who had found us on the snow-covered street.
I asked a group of deputies where I could find him, and they said all the deputies in town were standing right there. He was not there, and they did not know who he was. Guardian angels come in all forms.