Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Heinie and the sports car


My wife and I headed for Sioux Falls Friday afternoon hoping to catch Noah Hoehn and his extraordinary one-man band. Noah was to perform at 4 o’clock Saturday afternoon at the 26th Annual Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Festival, more commonly known as Jazzfest. Having watched Hoehn’s incredible act many times on U-tube, I finally had my chance to see this guy live on stage; or so I thought. We arrived in Sioux Falls by 7 o’clock Friday evening, anxiously awaiting Boz Scaggs’ evening performance. The next day we showed up just in time to discover I had misread the schedule. Worthington’s Noah Hoehn had performed at 4 o’clock alright. Only it was on Friday, the day before.

This was not enough of a screw-up to ruin the weekend however as the show’s final act was a true knockout. This is how Vermont singer/songwriter Grace Potter closed down the festival.

“The other day I got a call from the Rolling Stones. They asked if I would open the next show on their tour,” Potter gushingly said to the already frenzied crowd.

“Then they asked me what Rolling Stones song do you want to perform with us?”

As she broke into the Stone’s “Gimme Shelter,” the crowd went wild.

The highlight of my weekend had nothing to do with music or anything else festival-related except for this. I am a people watcher and, lo and behold, walking down the pathway I spotted Heinie, a friend I last saw in 1975. Forty years later, we still recognized each other. As far as we were concerned, neither of us had aged a bit. Actually I looked 70 years-old 40 years ago, so that explains that.

The last time we saw each other, Heinie had left his brand new sports car with me in exchange for a ride across the Mexican border to the train station in Reynosa. For several years, my wife and I became snowbirds and spent our winters on the border working for the Hilton Inn. The pay was as good as the weather and we soon attracted many of our South Dakota friends as a drop-off spot on the way to Mexico. Back in those days, many students and hippies journeyed to Oaxaca, Yucatan, Belize and Guatemala. In exchange for overnight accommodations and a ride across the border, we were often given a free car to use. This came in handy as my wife and I had different work hours.

The weekend before Heinie’s return, we drove his sports car up to Austin for a Joni Mitchell/Bob Dylan concert. Following an all-night party with our Austin friends, I had the brilliant idea to pay an early morning, alcohol-fueled visit to my former boss. I made the first intersection and immediately ran a red light, plowing into the side of some poor woman’s station wagon. This happened in slow motion; so slow that the bumper on Heinie’s car suffered only a minor scratch. It was the side of the station wagon that took the brunt of the damage.

This entire scene, including the appearance of the Austin Police Department could best be compared to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Quaalude-fueled driving performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Magically, a high-rolling friend of ours showed up at the accident scene. His first act was to bribe the cop. He was more fortunate than my wife and I. We went to jail; he didn’t.

“I’ll have you out before dark,” were his parting words.

Together, we were facing at least two felonies and numerous misdemeanors. Languishing in jail, extremely hung over, is not my idea of a good time. The phone call that soon followed however was like a gift from heaven; although I’m sure God does not impart gifts such as this to people like me who did what they did.

The gift was a phone call from a famous Austin attorney named Abe Z. “I’ll have you out in a couple of hours. Don’t say a thing,” he demanded.

I was silent anyway because it hurt to talk. True to his word, within hours, we were released on personal recognizance.

We met with “Honest Abe,” and as we handed him a hundred bucks (total charge for both) I asked him, “When will we have to show up for court. We’re living down at the border.”

“Both your driver’s licenses say you are from South Dakota. Do you guys live there?” he queried.

When I told him no, he said, "Disappear. You’ll never hear from me again.”

About a year later, the Travis County District Court did find us. My hands were trembling as I opened the envelope.

“This is to inform you that the District Attorney of Travis County Texas has dismissed all charges pending against you and (your wife).”

I researched Abe’s current profile. His status: Suspended. Not eligible to practice in Texas.

I apologize to the woman in the station wagon and my dangerous immature behavior. Heinie didn’t need an apology. He has this story to use.


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