Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A '76 Winnebago

Unbelievable as this may sound somebody gave us an RV. It is a beautiful 22' Class A Winnebago, in excellent shape, that we slept in for the first time last night, slept well, and in the early hours of morning I slipped out of the warm bed in back and made tea on the propane stove and sat under the small light at the booth table behind the driver's seat and watched the yellow dawn with a great sense of peace. Nobody can know what this feels like unless they have been sleeping in the back of their car or van for a month.

Our neighbors orchestrated this incredible, life changing event after J mentioned her desire to get a small RV someday. They knew someone who had one, who was selling it for only $2500. Of course we showed interest although we knew the money was out of reach and would be for awhile. But after talking with the woman who was selling it we were given the impression that she might be willing to give it to us if we were the right people for it.

We heard some stories from our neighbor Carla about the incredible woman named Jodie who had previously owned the RV. She had been in prison for over a third of her life, for armed robbery and assorted crimes (and 1/3 of that was spent in solitary!), was 1/2 German-1/2Native American (Cheyenne?) and had recently died of lung cancer. On the outside Carla told us she was an intimidating woman who, at 60, was still doing labor construction work, gruff and solitary Carla had been approached by one of her dogs a few years earlier and was petting and talking to the animal when Jodie ambled over and said, "That dawg don't like nobody. You must be okay."

So Carla and her began an uneasy friendship.

We went to meet the woman who gave us the RV a few days ago and she was distraught about her dog that had recently been hit by a car. Lola, a wonderful, funny Columbian woman with a ton of brick problems that fell on her at once, first with the death of her close friend Jodie, who she cared for to the end, and now her dog, who she looked upon like a son. "It feels like I got it, without even being wined and dined!" she said, in her Spanish accent while reaching a hand around to her backside.

We hit it off over coffee and Columbian sweets and cookies, Dulce de Leche dripped onto wafer like cookies, and then came the moment of truth. She had previously tried to give the RV to three people, none of which could get it started, one guy supposedly having tried for months. I got in the driver's seat and tried it. It turned over but nothing coughed or caught. I pumped the gas pedal a few times. Same thing. I let it sit for a few as J and C and Lola talked about Jodie. What a strange and wonderful person she was. How she had Lola distribute her belongings, her van, tent trailer and other things among certain people before she died. The RV was supposed to be for Lola but she said it was too painful and she has her own RV anyway...I listened and then turned back to the wheel. My fingers hovered on the keys. I turned them in the ignition. Nothing. I looked out at the New Mexico landsape, thirty miles west of Bernalillo, in Jemez, rolling desert with mesas in the distance. I felt a surge of agressive energy and turned the engine and let it turn. J said, "I guess maybe Jodie doesn't think we're the right people after all" and just at she said "all" the engine roared to life. It stunned us all and Lola reached up and got the title out of the cabinet abover her.


Anonymous Linda said...

Wow! I found your post as I was looking for photos of a 76 Winnebago. A friend knows someone who's selling one, and I was curious what they look like.

I was so happy to hear about someone doing this and to know there are people who still care. It's very easy to think of someone with no home as "them" and we as "us". Most people don't realize that people with jobs who don't do drugs can be homeless. That homeless doesn't mean lazy. All it takes is a couple of bad events to make it a reality sometimes.

I'm going to bookmark this page as you seem to have an interesting life that I would love to read about. Good luck from the bottom of my heart. I'm thinking about you.

I'm not on eBlogger, but my blog is at if you want to check it out.

11:42 PM  

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