Howard could be found each morning having breakfast at the CoHo until 7:30 AM. We caught him just as he was leaving. Howard owned the one and only boom truck in Cordova and he was pushing 80 years old the summer this all happened. Howard always dressed as a logger, wearing Carhart jeans with buttons for suspenders, suspenders and a wool vest. He was a cheerful man, had a smile for everyone but was a deaf as a door-knob.
I told him that while trying to haul my boat out, my trailer unattached itself from the truck and went in the drink.
“Did the truck go too?” he inquired, sounding a little like Mr. Magoo.
“Naw, the truck stayed dry, just the boat and trailer went in.”
“That’s good, I’ve seen the truck go too. Salt water ain’t too good for those trucks, ya know”
“Yeah, I suppose not.”
“Well, I can’t do nothing for a few hours, til tide goes out. How’s ‘bout I meet you down there at 11 AM?”
“Sounds good. Thanks Howard!”
11 AM sharp Howard comes around the corner with his boom truck. The same time the NAPA BBQ started. The same NAPA BBQ that the whole town shows up for. Well, I guess that day they got more than they bargained for, they got a free show. Nothing like have the whole town witness your mistakes.
Howard backs his boom truck down to the bottom of the ramp where the cement is slick with moss and salt water slime. And since Howard has a commercial truck, it beeps the whole way down the ramp grabbing everyone’s attention incase they didn’t notice the big truck in the first place. I was standing on the dock, mortified. At low tide the trailer is mostly out of the water but not close enough to the ramp that a pick-up would be able to back up to it without going in.
Howard got the truck into positions, set the feet, and stabilized it. By now, there is a line of by standers, all munching on hotdogs, lined up along the water’s edge for the show. Howard reaches out with his boom and hooks the trailer. His truck picks up my several thousand pound trailer like it’s a Tonka Toy and proceeds to raise it a good thirty feet into the air for everyone to see.
I hear from somewhere in the crowd “Hey Pickett! That your trailer?” I nod. “Truck go in, too?” I shake my head. Everybody seems to be asking me that today.
Howard seem to hold my trailer up in the air for an eternity, giving the towns folk their money worth, I suppose. If it were possible for a person to die of embarrassment, I would have. Willingly. After Howard was certain everyone at the BBQ was entertained, he put my trailer down on dry land where Lenny came with the pick-up. “Better let me hook it up this time”
Though thoroughly embarrassed, I was grateful for Howard and his boom truck. I don’t know how else I would have gotten my trailer out of the harbor. I asked how much I owed him, figuring my bill would be anywhere from $100-$200 bucks. Howard smiled and said “A cup of coffee, if you argue, it’ll be two.”
In memory of Gloria Clarke