I had lived in Springfield, Mo., for about five years when I decided it was time to return to my hometown of Wichita. My first marriage had broken up and my sons, ages 8 and 11, seemed to be developing Ozark accents. One day they asked “if we’uns can go to the movie” with a friend. I asked them to correct their grammar and they said “can us’uns go to the movie?” I knew I had to get them back to civilization.
The gals at the office threw a going-away party for me and I set off for Kansas in my blue 1972 Chevrolet station wagon. It was an emotional journey thinking of the friends I was leaving behind. As I was driving past the trees and hills of Missouri along Highway 54 I noticed flashing red lights behind me. I pulled over and rolled down my window as a Missouri state highway patrolman approached.
He said, “Lady, do you know how fast you were going?”
“No sir,” I said.
“92 miles an hour. What is your hurry?”
My answer surprised both him and me.
“Well, everything I own is in the back of this station wagon, and my boys are in Wichita with my grandmother, I left a job that I loved, and I just heard on the radio that Elvis died.” Then I lost it and sobbed uncontrollably.
He tried to ask more questions, but I was bawling like a baby. He finally said, “Look lady, there’s a café up the road about a mile. You follow me up there and we’re going to stop for coffee.”
We sat and chatted for about 20 minutes.
Then he told me he would follow me to the state line, which was about 20 miles away, if I was ready. I made it home safely that evening because of a thoughtful highway patrol officer. I didn’t get a ticket and he even paid for the coffee.
Suzie White is a retired insurance agent and member of the memoir writting group at Shepherds Center of West Wichita.