Mama loved that towel. It sat in a place of glory along the back dash of her baby blue 61 Ford Fairlane and we were not allowed to touch it. Even on cool summer nights sitting in the back seat when she drove with all four windows down. We better not touch that beach towel.
It was all different shades of blue set in a mosaic pattern. Blue like her eyes and like her car. Her favorite color. For some reason, she thought it dressed up her car.
Mama was a waitress in a small, but popular diner in Spartanburg. In those days, waitresses wore starched white uniforms that made them look like nurses almost. Mama never left the house unless her uniform was bright and clean, her hair was all in place, and her make-up was immaculate. She looked like a million dollars when she left for work every day.
One day as she drove along Hwy 176, she was past Pacolet, and approaching Glendale when she noticed a figure lying on the opposite side of the road. People were passing him by and not stopping. Not being able to stop in time, she turned around and went back to see if he was ok. When she got there she realized why no one was stopping.
There was no blue on the man lying there. Only the brown of his chocolate colored skin and the red from the blood that had soaked through his clothes from the wounds. She knelt down and realized he was still alive. In a flash, she decided what to do. She ran to the car, grabbed the beloved towel and covered him with it. Telling him to hang on, she ran across the road to her cousin's roadside stand and called the police and ambulance. She called her boss and told her she'd be late. Then she went back to wait with the man. Her towel was no longer clean and blue, and her uniform no longer starched white.
Once the ambulance came, she turned back, went home changed clothes and went on back to work. As the months went by, she never worried about her towel anymore. We did wonder what happened to the man.
That could have been the end of this story, but it wasn't. A few months later, there was a knock at the back door. When I went to the door, there was a family standing there. The lady held a beautiful chocolate cake, and the man held a towel with all different shades of blue set in a mosaic pattern. The two kids looked scared to be there. I called for Mama to come.
The man started to thank her, and Mama stopped him short. "Our friends come to the front door," she said. When the man started to protest, she repeated her statement and closed the door. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the front door and there they stood. She invited them in, and made a pot of coffee for the adults to enjoy with their chocolate cake. The kids all had milk and cake.
I never knew the man's name. I never saw him again that I can remember. The only thing I remember is that my mama loved that towel, but not so much that she would not stop to help a stranger, no matter who he was.