I was 28 or so when I met Melanie Brown. I had been visiting a family member on the north side of Phoenix, Arizona when I spotted her and her little brother watching me. I was driving a small, open air, tiller steered, car used in local parades. Though it was a modern piece, the car resembled an antique from the late 19th century. I had made some repairs to the car, and was test-driving it before returning it to its owner.
At first I saw a small boy and what I thought was his teenaged sister watching me from their yard. Their hair got my attention. They both had the same bright red hair. Every time I passed their home, the boy would jump up and down with excitement and point at me.
I stopped in front of them, introduced myself, and offered them a ride. The little boy didn’t wait for his sister to give her OK. His eyes lit up, and he instantly began trying to climb aboard.
Though it was not very fast, driving this little car took both hands; one to steer with the tiller and the other to operate the spring returned throttle. So, I looked at the excited kid’s sister and said told her. “You come too. You’ll need to hold Jr. here down so he doesn’t fall out.”
With a bright smile, she put the boy in the seat between us and climbed aboard. Melanie introduced herself and her son, Bobby. She then thanked me for the ride. Though she looked to be about 14, as it turned out, Melanie was a mother in her mid twenties.
When they were safely seated, I pulled away from the curb. Off we went. We drove around the neighborhood for twenty or thirty minutes. Bobby never stopped talking. As most kids do, he asked a million questions. Most of his questions were good ones. All of which, I answered as best I could to the satisfaction of a young boy. Melanie didn’t say much. She just sat there with a wide smile, staring at me, and intently listening to my every word.
If not for the fact that I was driving, I may have returned the favor and not taken my eyes...