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Correspondence

Bear

We were driving back to Michigan after a conference on Herbert Hoover that I had organized for the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa, in 1984.  After you get past Hammond and Gary, Indiana is flat but quite nice.  Our beautiful Buick 225 Ultra blew the head gasket on the Indiana Toll Road near LaPorte.  I walked about a mile to an exit we had just passed (pre-cellphone days, pre-OnStar) and called for assistance.  Just about the time I got back to our car, which my wife had guarded, the most beautiful tow truck I have ever seen pulled up.  It was lifted about two feet and had tires to kill for; it was flame red, with fire stripes in orange and blue and purple and yellow, all shined up and glowing in the late-afternoon sun.

One of the biggest men I have ever seen (at least 6'6" and 350 pounds) jumped down from the cab and said, “Call me Bear.”  He wore huge steel-toed work boots, OshKosh B’gosh bib overalls, and a red and black flannel shirt (it was summer).  His beard covered most of his bib, and his black hair came down to where the suspenders crossed on his back.  His voice filled the roadside and flattened the high grass.  My wife’s eyes were bigger than I have ever seen them.

He said, “You cain’t drive that machine, so whar’ do you want me to take you?”  I told him we were about 200 miles from home, and he said,...

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