The Big Wheel

Morning Story and Dilbert

Dilbert
December 3, 2012

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from
three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared.

Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.
Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck.

The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job.

Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the
graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to
come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good
arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money–fully half of what I averaged
every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.

The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up
residence in Indiana ? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me
a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids.

I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was
sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe.

A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left
to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s
side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!
I looked inside another box: It was
full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries.
There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was
hole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….

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46 comments
  1. kiwiskan said:

    …and that’s always where angels come from

    Like

    • This really is an heart touching story. I fight tears every time I read it….. Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

      Like

  2. beverley said:

    i remember when angels left Christmas presents on my door step for my children when there was no one else left to take care of them but me, never found out who it was, never asked either.

    Like

  3. What a great story about the goodness inherent in all people. Thanks.

    Like

  4. I love your post. They really make you think and look at yourself. 🙂

    Like

  5. What a wonderful tale of how good people can be.
    Thank you for sharing it and making my day start with a smile and a tear.

    Like

  6. lala1966 said:

    wonderful story to share at this time of year!

    Like

  7. wow, this is a very beautiful Christmas! thank you for sharing your story. it’s very encouraging 🙂 God bless you. 😀 (and thanks for following my blog. :D)

    Like

  8. I can barely see through the tears to simply say thank you…

    Like

  9. It is beautiful to hear about the goodness in the world that is given without wanting anything in return. It reminds me of when I was little and we had very little. I am thankful for your post this morning, we are all truly over blessed these days with all we have. Great blog! I look forward to reading more posts.

    Like

  10. Aries said:

    Wow! Angels they are.. people are just naturally good inside… they surround people like you that are good… Warm story. Just so beautiful. Godbless.

    Like

  11. Lump in my throat and goose-bump covered arms. If that doesn’t move your heart, something is wrong.

    Like

  12. It's a matter of prayer said:

    Reblogged this on HAPPINESS IS ANSWERED PRAYER and commented:
    An expression of what this season is all about. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  13. ** Thank you so much for sharing this ..what a timely time of the year(my fave time of the year…) to do so!
    Stay UPlifted & blessed

    Like

  14. boxeS… 😀 Thanks for this today. I really needed it!!!!!!!! Take care! 😀

    Like

  15. Colline said:

    So beautiful – it brought tears to my eyes.

    Like

  16. Absolutely loved it! It reminds us that God and people are good! Not all people are bad and sometimes we have to weather storms but God is there with us in the midst of it all.

    Like

  17. Reblogged this on Worn to Won and commented:
    With Christmas just around the corner I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. It’s a real heart warmer and truley captures the Spirit of Christmas. Craig

    Like

    • No, I’m not from Indiana…. But, I did live in the Kansas City area for ten years. Right now I live in eastern North Carolina. Thanks for stopping by!!!! Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

      Like

      • Cool. My wife lived in North Carolina, Charlotte for a time. She loved it. No problem, you too.

        Like

        • Houston Wade sounds like a interesting character!!!! And the Tux, you were fifteen and “The Man” Have a good rest of the day!!!! Kenny T

          Like

  18. We have to remember that there are very good people out there and also very needy ones. “Pray for the rich for they are afraid. Pray for the poor for they are alone. And pray for the unkind for such is how God has treated me” MAX LUCADO

    Like

  19. A beautiful story. Angels can be found everywhere. I’m glad some stopped in at The Big Wheel and brought toys, clothing, food, and a smile to that families’ faces.

    Like

  20. There’s an angel for us everyday and the nicest thing is, we can be angels for others too!

    Like

  21. Reblogged this on Glenda Mills.com and commented:
    Another beautiful reblog from Morning Story and Dilbert. You’re gonna love this. Get your hankie out!

    Like

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