Tuesday, November 5, 2013
When I first moved to Tennessee and began my own business back in the early 90's, I had to rent, not only because I had no money, but because no one trusted my new tract record as a small business owner. Consequently, I rented an old, old house on Franklin road, next to what the locals call Spencer Creek.
Franklin Road is very busy and traffic is present day and night. After a while a man gets used to the noise. One night this time of year, someone knocked on the door. It was odd, because there are no sidewalks on that portion of roadway, nor do people walk there because it is so busy. As it was after dark, I opened the door slowly after turning on the porch light, which was bright enough to see anyone through the single pane in the door. It was a man in a sports jacket, about the age of my father.
After having lived in the South for a couple of years already, I knew this person was out of place, and it was not Bill Peach, who always dresses neatly. So, trusting someone that looked like this, I opened the door and asked, "Can I help you, Sir?" (I had already learned to add the "sir" to all my questions and greetings.)
He replied, "You sure can! Do you have any gas?"
Smiling, because I knew what had happened, I said, "Follow me," and we proceeded down the stairs and over to the garage.
I opened the rickety door, revealing my 1963 Lincoln Continental. As he stood in my way to get the gas, he allowed me to go past him, but I noticed he was not paying attention to me at all, but his eyes were transfixed on the car. Slowly he walked towards it and placed his hand on the lid of the trunk. After picking up the gallon can of gas and going back over to him I asked, "Like it?"
He said, "LBJ had one just like it."
I asked, "LBJ?"
Although it was dark it seemed as though he had a tear in his eye, almost hesitantly he said, "Yes, I rode with him in Dallas. I'm retired FBI."
His statement through me for a loop. No wonder he had gone up to it and placed his hand there. He most certainly had ridden on the back of one of the grand Lincolns reserved and specially made for JFK and others. Then grabbing the can from me, he said, "Be right back."
He walked in towards town into the dark, not giving me the chance to ask him if he wanted a ride, so I assumed he was not far from the house. I was right, because he was back in less than five minutes with his car. I had waited in the garage and was putting things I had left strewn about on shelves and into corners.
When he came back to me he was smiling again, and he handed me the can. He started to pull his wallet out of his trousers, but I said, "No. Don't worry about it."
He said, "Thanks. Can I look at it better?" He pointed at the Lincoln.
"Sure," I replied, but I added, "So, you were there?"
"Yes," he said as he walked away from me towards the front of the car. He asked, "Did you have it painted?"
I said, "Yes, a couple of years ago. Its not the original color, but close."
"I noticed. Lady Bird had a convertible that was like robin egg blue. It was a nice car, too. LBJ had one just like this." He placed his hand back on the fender again.
I let him look for the remainder of the time without saying anything, but finally as he walked back out to the car I just had to ask. I said, "Was the Warren Report correct?"
He stopped at the door of his car, and opened it. Bending in he picked up a hat, much like some of the young men wear to parties today, and placed it on his head. No one was with him as the light was bright enough to see inside the 80's model Ford. He turned to me after this and said, "No. Thanks for the gas."
He got in and drove away. I never did get his name.