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This is a true story and it happened to
me, Harry Cooper, Sharkhunters Founder and President.
The winter of 1959/1960 was pretty bitter in the Great Plains states but I had a few weeks leave and was going to head home to Chicago despite the weather. My friend Dave Dunn needed a ride there so he rode on the back of my Harley-Davidson motorcycle. We were bundled in the heavy weather gear issued by the Air Force so we didn't feel the 25 below zero (F) when we pulled out of Lincoln, Nebraska headed east. By the time we reached Ames, Iowa however, it was obvious that we weren't going any further in this weather on the bike, so I pulled up to the Ames Police Department. I explained the problem and asked if there was any place in town where I could park my bike safely while Dave and I hitch hiked on to Chicago. He could tell by our uniform heavy weather gear that we were Air Force guys, so the sergeant said I should just drive the bike into the Ames Police Department motorcycle garage and they would keep it safe for me. I rolled the bike into the warm garage, shook hands with the sergeant and thanked him. He said that since we were going to hitch hike to Chicago, he would have one of his patrol cars give us a ride as far east as their jurisdiction would allow. I thanked him again and the squad car drove us quite a few miles to the east, waved a friendly goodbye and departed.
It was already late in the day but we were lucky to get a ride overnight in a semi-truck that dropped us off about 0700 in a little town in western Illinois. We were hungry by then and the truck dropped us off in front of a little cafe at the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere, so we went in. We had almost no money, so we looked very carefully at the menu and counted the coins we had between us and figured to the penny, that we could have some toast and coffee for breakfast and that is all we ordered.
It was a nice breakfast - then the young lady (about 18 years old) brought the bill. We had been in Nebraska so long, with no sales tax, that we forgot that other states did have sales tax - we were about twenty cents short! I told the girl we were in the Air Force and explained why we were short this money, and I asked for the address of the cafe and promised to send the money as soon as I got to my parent's home in Chicago. She said it was okay........what else could she do? So we went out onto the highway to continue hitch-hiking toward Chicago.
Almost immediately a man in his 40's came out of the diner and approached us. The young girl was his daughter, and he asked if we were the G.I.'s who had just eaten breakfast there. I said we were, and I assured him that I would send the money as soon as I got to Chicago. Forget it, he said - get on back inside. Dave and I went back into the diner with him and his wife, the cook in the kitchen, already had a table set for us heaped with fried eggs, pancakes, bacon, bread, hot coffee and more. We ate until we were ready to burst - then his wife handed us a huge bag filled with sandwiches, cookies and slices of pie for the road. When we got all this handed to us, the man put us in his truck and drove us about twenty miles to the next major highway intersection where we would have better luck hitch hiking onward.
It's been more than five decades since this happened, but my eyes still well up with tears when I remember the kindness of these wonderful people in the diner and also at the Ames Police Department.
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