Above and beyond

We were having Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago when my cousin, Bill Lohn, then of Brady, asked me, “When are you going to write a column about me’ We’ve been hunting and fishing and stuff lots of times.” I asked him when was the last time he wrote a column about me. Bill and I have done a lot of outdoor stuff together. When we were kids we used to go fishing and hunting as often as we could, and we hardly ever missed a year going on our annual After-Christmas Coon Hunt. But it wasn’t until recently that something happened that caused me to feel compelled to write a column about him. This is probably not exactly what he had in mind, but since he now lives in Canada, I feel fairly safe writing it. My wife recently decided to go to Tampa, Florida, and help out at the big football game held there. Her father is in charge of security at the Super Bowls, and he needed some office help, so she volunteered. The only problem was that she didn’t have any luggage made out of reinforced concrete, which is about the only kind that can stand up to airline luggage handlers. So she called my aunt, Patsy Lohn, and asked to borrow her set of Samsonite. Patsy had bought the luggage to use on her trips to Canada to visit her son, Bill, and his family there. Now, if you’re my age or older, you probably remember the commercials Samsonite used to make about their luggage. Some of these ads showed elephants standing on Samsonite suitcases, or crazed gorillas throwing luggage around in a cage. One commercial showed a suitcase falling out of an actual airplane in flight, and then hitting the ground, where it didn’t even come open on impact. Which proves, in light of recent airline developments, that it’s safer to fly in a suitcase than on an airplane. These were great commercials. The only way they could have been better would have been if they had shown lawyers being stood on by elephants, thrown around in gorilla cages, etc. But while I enjoyed the ads, I didn’t really believe the luggage was all that tough. When I travel I usually carry my clothes in a paper sack, or just throw them in the car loose. But when my wife borrowed Aunt Patsy’s Samsonite, the luggage came with a story which made me wonder if those old commercials might have been fairly accurate after all. Patsy had taken her new luggage to Canada for the first time, and was ready to head home. Bill was loading her belongings up to take her to the airport, and decided to tie one of her new suitcases on top of his Suburban. Patsy protested and tried to get him to put it inside, but he assured her that it would ride up there, so off they went. On the way to the airport they passed a truck and heard a noise, but didn’t notice anything unusual. Two hours down the road they stopped in the town of Drumheller, where they noticed that, lo and behold, Patsy’s new suitcase had decided to remain in Canada. There was nothing on top of the Suburban. There is no way to know for sure, but I maintain that if Bill’s brother, Greg, had tied the suitcase down this would not have happened. Greg is an Eagle Scout, so it is reasonable to assume that he knows a thing or two about knots. Anyway, with an hour to go to the airport, barely enough time to make her flight, Patsy had to abandon all hope of ever seeing her new suitcase again. When they got to the airport in Calgary, Patsy happened to remark at the ticket counter that she had lost a piece of her luggage en route. The ticket agent asked her to describe it, and when she did he turned and went into another room. When he came back he brought a gorilla with him. No, seriously, he brought Patsy’s new suitcase and gave it to her. It had actually beaten her to the airport. Samsonite doesn’t put those little wheels on those things for nothing. The case was still closed, and sustained no damage other than a few scratches here and there. When she asked how this were possible, Patsy was told that a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman had been travelling along the highway between Castor and Drumheller, minding his own business, rescuing damsels in distress, fighting evil and putting out forest fires, when he noticed the suitcase beside the road. By studying the case very closely he determined that someone had lost it, that they would probably want it back, and that it was very heavy. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on Dudley Dooright. So, following the RCMP SOP for such a situation, he drove more than an hour to the Calgary airport and turned the suitcase in at the ticket counter, to await its happy reunion with its owner. He even left his card, which is why I know that he was Cst. N.S.B. (Bart) Hampton, of the Strathmore Detachment of the RCMP. Law enforcement personnel such as police and game wardens are often maligned these days. Many view them as people to be avoided, slackers who would rather drink coffee and eat doughnuts than do their jobs. But in my experience most of them are good, honest, hard working folks who are often underpaid and under appreciated. And old Bart happens to be a perfect example of this. Bill has been after me to come up to Canada and do some hunting. If he doesn’t get too angry with me over this column I might take him up on his offer, as long as Aunt Patsy will agree to loan me her Samsonite. But I think I’ll insist on putting my luggage INSIDE the vehicle . . . Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who would like to remind you that Don Larson, of the New York Yankees, became the first man to pitch a perfect game in a World Series on October 8, 1956. Write to him (Kendal) at PO Box 564, Mason, Tx 76856 or email hemphill@towa.org

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