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The Canyon Caper

1964

Jeep sales were down, but I placed the ad in the Tribune Sun, as I was told, for the weekend. It came out Friday afternoon. I proofed it to see that I had gotten it correct, then folded up the paper and left it in my husbands white leather chair.

He rushed in about 5:30, along with his hunting buddy Bud, just to say they were going to Imperial Valley dove hunting.

"I'll be back on Sunday."

"What about the ad in the paper for the Jeep?" I asked. He'd already purchased a GMC before he sold the Jeep. We were in financial trouble with payments on both of them.

"Sell it!"

He grabbed his gun and out the door they went.

I don't know anything about selling Jeeps. Or any cars for that matter. I didn't even know how to do the Pink Slip if I did sell it.

Fortunately for me, the phone never rang on Saturday. It was a relief, because I was beginning to worry about how I would handle things. I busied myself with laundry and housecleaning and tried not to think about Warn hubs, 4 x 4, or trailer hitches. I was pretty ticked that he would make me run the ad, and then romp off on a hunting trip.

Sunday after I came in from church with the children, someone knocked at the front door.

"Is that Jeep out front yours?" a sailor asked.

"Yes."

"Could we try it out?"

"Just a minute, I'll get the keys."

They introduced themselves, telling me they were from the midwest and knew how to drive one. Not to worry.

We drove up Lamont Street where it dead-ended at the top of the hill. I knew there were bike trails and rugged terrain up there beyond the 'closed fence' sign.

The guys tooled around in the wilderness for maybe five minutes when one said "Let's see what she'll do?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Down that ravine."

"Well, I'm getting out ... that's too steep for me."

I stood at the top while they eased the Jeep over the side and down the bumpy trail to the bottom.

"Come on guys, I've gotta get back to my kids," I yelled from the top.

Nothing.

Then I saw them get out of the Jeep and start up the side of the Ravine.

"We can't get her out!" they called to me.

I panicked.

When they reached the top I said "Gimme the keys!"

They handed over the keys sheepishly.

"I know a hunter close by, I'll walk to Dan's house and see if he can come get it out.:

I took off leaving them in my dust.

Dan drove me back to the ravine after listening to my tale of woe. The sailors were long gone. He half slid down the embankment to the Jeep and rocked it back and forth trying to get it to take hold and climb up the side. It wouldn't budge.

"It's stuck! It's no go ..." Dan hollered.

He drove me home and I sat and worried until I heard Bud's International Harvester pull up out in front of the house. The hunters were home from the hill.

"Where's the Jeep ... Didja sell it?" my husband asked.

"No, and it's a long story ..." I said.

I told the story slowly, not missing a detail, Warn Hubs and all. I was talking like a car salesman who had a live one.

"Well, that was stupid!" he said, "You shoulda known better than to do that!"

"More to the point, you shoulda known better than to leave a girl to do a man's job!"

Bud and my husband left in the big International Harvester to go winch the Jeep out of the canyon.

They were back before dark, but they were not happy campers. They'd been tired from the weekend of hunting, tired from the drive back from Imperial Valley, and now they were sick and tired of winching the problem Jeep out of the ditch it was in at the bottom of the canyon.

Bud went home leaving me alone for the Sunday night silent treatment.

There were no calls about the ad in the paper.

Monday afternoon the doorbell rang.

There stood the sailors, a small bouquet of flowers in their hand.

"We just came back to apologize. We didn't mean to get you in trouble. We've been at sea a long time and we just thought it would be fun to ride a Jeep again ... like we used to do back home."

"You mean you weren't potential buyers?"

"No. We just wanted a free Jeep ride"

"Well, you got a thrill, didn't you?"

They handed me the flowers and left with heads hanging low.

This was worse than I thought. Not only had I let them take it to a dangerous canyon, they weren't even potential buyers. I'd been duped!

I flashed back on the pitch that I'd given them about the low mileage, the Warn hubs, the special tires, the trailer hitch. I'd done a really good hard-sell-job. I coulda sold that sucker!

If I'd had a potential buyer, that is!

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