Saving Hemingway’s life

I must have spent the night of July 1-2, 1961 in Salt Lake City, in a bed in a small YMCA on a downtown side street. That makes sense. I remember getting up early in the morning there, reaching the outskirts of the city by about 8 a.m. and picking up a ride, and then another fairly quickly. I look at the map of that area now and I figure I could have made it to that highway crossroads in southern Idaho by noon.

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An ash tree reaches for the sky in the Hope Bay Forest

I remember being hung up there unable to get a ride for maybe two hours. There were no trees and the junction of the two highways was at the top of a plateau from which the highways fell away in several directions. And after a while it was too hot standing under the sun so I walked over to a truck stop about 100 yards away. There was a counter with bar chairs and some tables. A clean-cut, casually dressed man who looked to be in his mid-30s was eating his lunch at the far end of the counter. A couple of truckers sat talking at a table. I noticed there was a sign on the wall above the counter that said “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” I was just 18 at the time, so what did I know, and when the large man in a white apron behind the counter asked me what I wanted I ordered a coffee and inquired about the sign. Continue reading