In June 1984, Michele and I were on our honeymoon, driving from New York in a big circle South through Virginia, Tennesse, Kentucky, then back to Michigan.
Yes, that’s our actual car — a 1970-something Plymouth Satellite Sebring — heading out from our wedding reception at the Knights Of Columbus Hall in Long Island, where we ate Baked Ziti and danced the Tarantella (Michele’s family is Italian from Napoli – see video below)
Anyway, we were traveling Skyline Drive, high atop the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, when the starter went out on our car, and we were in trouble.
Stark wilderness. Not much money. Having left our overnight motel cabin, we BARELY got the car started, and were pretty sure it would not start again.
What to do? There were no service stations on Skyline, and no signs pointing to where we could find one. Even if we could find a repair place down in the little side valleys off the mountaintop, we couldn’t really spare the cost of a new starter.
We finally knew we had to take one of the little side-roads down into a tiny valley village, and see what happened. We also needed some lunch, but didn’t dare to shut the car off.
We meandered down a thin road into a village so small that they didn’t even have a traffic light.
But they had an oily dusty old 2-bay auto repair shop (think Gomer and Goober in Mayberry, but a much smaller town)!
The country mechanics told us not to worry, they’d take care of it. They invited us to walk next door to the little cafe, grab a sandwich, and they’d be done by the time we finished.
I can’t remember what a starter cost in those days, maybe $100-$150 installed.
When we went back to the repair shop, they presented us with a bill for $12!
“What?”, I asked. “The starter wasn’t bad after all?”
Gomer said to us, “Oh no sir, the starter was bad alright. But we took it apart and replaced a worn brush, and she’s as good as new! Sorry it took us more than an hour, so we had to charge you for an extra half-an-hour. Hope that’s alright, sir…maam.”
And he pointed to a cardboard hand-written sign on the wall – “Labor $8 per hour”.
We were on our way to finish our honeymoon drive back to Michigan, and 29 years later the Lord is still providing, often in ways we could never have guessed.