In my last blog-a-book story from “The Bush Devil Ate Sam,” I introduced the tale about getting caught in a laundry takeover by armed men in South Lake Tahoe, California where I was working at the time. Today, I will conclude that story.
My humdrum, ant-like existence of delivering linens to the motels of South Lake Tahoe came to a dramatic end the morning I heard the roar of laundry trucks firing up an hour before they were supposed to. I threw on my clothes, sidestepped the gunman guarding my door and jumped into my car. The guard immediately repositioned himself as a hood ornament and looked threatening. Guys with guns can do that.
“Don’t be worried, Curt,” a familiar voice told me.
“Right,” I thought as I checked out the tough looking goon. I turned my head and spotted Woody, our lead driver. “What in the hell is going on?” I demanded.
“We’ve taken over the laundry,” Woody replied casually.
The next question followed naturally: Who in the hell constituted we? Woody had an answer for that, too.
“I work for the people that Douvres screwed when he took the laundry back,” he told me. “We’re here legally. These armed men are professional security guards we hired to protect our interests.” Apparently Woody had been quietly arranging a coup while taking Roger’s money.
“I am leaving now,” I informed Woody.
“I don’t think so,” Woody replied. “Relax, it will all be over in a few hours and you can go to work for us.”
I was beginning to feel like I had been caught up in a B-grade movie.
“Woody, you are not going to shoot me,” I said with a lot more confidence than I felt. “Tell the man to get out of my way.” I was irritated to the point of irrationality. I turned on the car and started rolling forward. At the last possible moment, when it was clear that I intended to keep going, Woody motioned for his man to move. I was glad they couldn’t hear my sigh of relief over the sound of the engine.
Once away from the laundry, I shoved the gas pedal down and made a dash for Cefalu’s house. I knocked on the door of the dark house and was surprised to find Roger open it in his pajamas. He’d come up the night before.
“What’s wrong, Curt,” he said sounding a little alarmed. Obviously, I wouldn’t show up at 6:30 a.m. to wish him good morning.
“Your laundry has been taken over by armed men,” I blurted out and then quickly filled in the details. Roger responded with an incredibly imaginative stream of swearwords. He grabbed his jacket, yelled for his daughter to call the sheriff and told me to jump in his truck. There are three red lights between where Cefalu lived and the laundry. We ran them all. Our truck screeched to a halt in front of the office and Roger jumped out with me close behind.
Fine, I thought to myself. I just escaped from this place and here I am back providing muscle back up for an angry man who is probably going to pop someone in the nose and get us both shot. Fortunately, there were a lot of words before any action, and the Sheriff’s deputy showed up with siren blasting. It would all be settled in court. I was still in one piece and my experience at facing armed men would make a good story. I had no clue at the time that it would also help prepare me for facing men with guns as a student at Berkeley and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa.
Roger and John were successful at winning the court battle but things continued to be crazy at the laundry. I returned to my more peaceful job of driving a laundry truck between Placerville and Lake Tahoe. All’s well that ends well, but the insanity of the laundry takeover was about to be replaced by the insanity of being at Berkeley in the 1960s when the University was at the center of a world-wide student rebellion. Join me next Wednesday as I head off to UC.
Friday’s Travel Blog Post: The sea anenomes are marching off to war at Harris Beach on Oregon’s coast plus other fascinating creatures that hang out in the tide pools of the Pacific Northwest.
13 thoughts on “Held at Gunpoint: Training for Berkeley, and the Peace Corps… Part 2”
Leave it to you to run after the laundry men …. held at gun point oh my. The thrill of adventure Curt! Maybe it wasn’t smelly enough. Skipping the washing might have helped 🤣
A little excitement… 🙂 Being a laundryman can be boring! –Curt
Yes, but of course!!!💖🤣
At first, I was just trying to picture you doing laundry. But then I had to picture you escaping! Oh, my. You have lived a lot more lives than anyone I know!
Like the proverbial cat, Rusha. At least nine. 🙂 –Curt
You’ve never lived a dull life.
Certainly not if I can help it, Peggy. 🙂 Of course, I am talking to someone who has wandered through West Africa in a truck…
Brave if … At least you lived to tell many more tales. Love the new blog format!
Many more tales… Grin. And thanks on the new format. I discovered that WordPress had retired my other theme and wasn’t supporting it anymore. Not that they had told me. Not sure yet that this will be the one I stick with, but I utilized the theme change to streamline my blog a bit. –Curt
When I was the USA I was talking to a man in a bar who suddenly decided that I needed to see his gun, just out of interest, nothing threatening but it shook me up for a while.I can tell you.
Yeah, welcome to the US, Andrew. Or maybe I should say, welcome to the Wild West. It ‘s crazy. Peggy was standing in line at a grocery store last week and just in front of her was a guy wearing a bright red MAGA hat and a pistol. Scary. –Curt
I’m beginning to think you’ve had just about every experience life can offer. A laundry holdup! So bizarre. As usual good reading Curt.
Well, a few, anyway Alison. I’m not sure I can match yours. 🙂 But I’m always open for more! Thanks. –Curt