Beverly Hillbillies

Posted on August 3, 2017 under Storytelling with one comment

( Based on a true story. Names have been changed )


Is there anything in life more exhilarating than turning 16, getting your driver’s license and buying your first car? In fact there is. Combine all of these things and your very first road trip with your best friend ( to the United States, no less ! ) and you have a recipe for unadulterated joy.

That is, unless you don’t encounter car troubles.

Jack and Mark had a bad case of wanderlust and with relatives living in Beverly, Massachusetts, it just made sense to pay them a visit. Now it must be said that neither of them could be accused of being a veteran behind the wheel, being young lads. In fact, they’d never navigated the streets of Halifax let alone tackled the suburbs of Boston.

They had been forewarned by friends that two young dudes travelling to the States might be a target for border officials. With this in mind, they cleaned the car to within an inch of its life. It possibly could have been the cleanest vehicle on the highway as they struck out early one Fall morning.

Back then, you didn’t need a passport to get across the border at Maine. Other than a few hastily thrown together duffle bags, they certainly didn’t have anything to hide or to claim… other than naivety.

Despite their calm demeanour and non- threatening appearance, the great “border teenage boy magnet “ , pulled them in for questioning. The officers gave the car a cursory examination and even they were impressed at its cleanliness.

They were probably too young to remember the television show “The Beverly Hillbillies” but the city of their destination was given the same name as a famous Los Angeles suburb. They spent two blissful weeks hanging out with relatives. Jack even loaned his car to his cousin for a day so that he could drive around and impress the girls.

The first sign of car troubles on the trip home surfaced around somewhere between Bangor and Calais. The car, overheating  with steam coming from the hood, ground to a stop.  Neither of the boys had a smidgen of knowledge about cars. Instinctively, they plowed two quarts of 10w30 into the engine. They would later on in the trip discovery the niceties of a car’s thermostat.

To get to the border crossing in Calais, you had to pass right through the middle of the city. This is precisely where the car called it quits for the second time. Luckily there were some able bodies around and the car was pushed off onto a side street. One of their rescuers suggested that the radiator needed some water. Ideally, you quench the thirst of a radiator with a combination of coolant and clean water. With neither of this in the vicinity, the boys wandered down to what appeared to be a lake. With no vessel in the car to retrieve water, they picked up a wine bottle on the shore and filled it with scummy ( and later to be discovered, ) salty  water.

They were now running very low on money… and patience. All they wanted to do was put the pedal to the metal and get back to Nova Scotia.

They approached the border and their hearts sunk when a zealous official uttered the following words’ “ Pull ‘er over and shut her off. You’re going to be here for a while. “ Crestfallen and distraught,  the boys vociferously argued their case to keep the car running, explaining the myriad problems that they’d encountered. They feared that their vehicle might not start up again.

If the border official initial words struck fear in their heart, one can only imagine the reaction when the agent said, “ Where’s the dope?”  “We don’t have any dope,” was the terse, honest reply. “You can save us a lot of time and grief if you simply tell us where you’re hiding the drugs. We’ll give you a fine but you won’t have a criminal record. “ Neither of the boys was aware of the concept of “plea bargaining.”

What would ever give cause for them to be suspected of being drug mules?  The small trail of marijuana seeds on the back seat floor was an indicator.

Jack’s mind raced and then it dawned on him that his cousin’s joy ride in Beverly must have included a puff or two. They watched helplessly as two agents went at the car with a vengeance, wielding screw drivers and pliers. Blessedly, there was no other incriminating evidence. This, however, did not satisfy the curiosity of the officials.

“Step inside.” That sounded innocuous enough until Jack was taken into a small room. “ Strip.” Everything came off save his Stanfields. “ Drop them.” Jack was near tears as the indignities continued. He exited the room and he didn’t have the time ( or the heart )  to tell Mark about the joys about to unfold.

The boys had to re-assemble their car and several hours later, they were back on the road, tired , hungry and nearly broke. The car hiccupped and lurched throughout New Brunswick but finally gave up the ghost for good near Moncton. A good Samaritan came to their rescue and they were able to get the car into his yard. It was now 9:30 at night and the only way that they could conceivably get back to Nova Scotia was by hitchhiking.

At 4:00 a.m. they found an all night diner open on the outskirts on New Glasgow. They pooled their money and had exactly enough for two cups of coffee. They were exhausted, dishevelled and despondent.

They got back on the side of the road and were surprised when minutes later, a good natured constable from the Westville Police Department pulled up. “ I just received a call from James Diner that they had just served two runaway teenagers.” The boys told their incredible story of woe to the officer.  He took pity on them. “ If you are interested, I can offer you beds in the jail and a free breakfast ( and all inclusive resort? ). As appealing as sleep and food seemed, they decided to soldier on.

Later that morning they arrived back home. A few days later, Jack’s father drove to Moncton and retrieved the recently deceased remains of his car.

After a long sleep, Jack was having a bite of supper when his mom asked, “ Well, Jack. How was your trip?” Jack thought carefully before responding. “ Well mom, other than a few car problems, the trip was quite uneventful.”

Never let truth get in the way of a good story.

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