This book is dedicated to Mrs. Reba Lazenby (1914-2006) because without Reba there would be no book.
Reba first met the character Tim in this book in 1961. He worked for a local feed mill and lived in a small shack across the road from Reba and her family. One day the feed mill owner brought Tim To Reba’s door and asked Reba if Tim could have access to the water tap in her front yard because the shack Tim was living in had no water. Reba readily agreed.
One evening Reba invited Tim over for supper and after that he came over quite often. During these times Tim would tell Reba and her family about some of his experiences traveling across the country following crops. Reba recalls Tim saying after they watched TV one night. “I could write a story that would put all them TV plays to shame.”
“Why don’t you?” Reba asked.
“If I wrote it would you read it?” Tim asked excitedly.
Reba assured him that she would.
That very night Tim started to write in longhand at the little kitchen table in the shack.
He would finish three or four pages a night and bring them over. Reba and her family read them and could hardly wait for the next night to find out what would happen next. Tim didn’t tell them it was the story of his life until Reba asked him. Then he admitted that it was all true and that he was the Tim in the story.
One day Tim’s boss asked him to take one of the big trucks to a neighboring town to pick up a load of grain. Tim did not want to go but the boss insisted. As Tim neared the town, he drove into a roadblock that was set up to check driver’s licenses. He was ticketed for driving without a license. He left that night and was never seen again by Reba and her family. The ticket was left on the table in the shack.
Years later Reba became friends with my wife’s father Richard Dorius Johnson (1912- 2008). Richard was deeply moved by the story and encouraged me to write a screenplay which I agreed to do.
As I re-edited and pieced the story together chronologically, I began questioning if Tim’s story was really true. I decided to do a little detective work. In the story, Tim’s family has an unusual experience at Big Mama’s Truck stop in Goodwater, Alabama. Was there really a Big Mama’s Truck stop I wondered? I called information and got the number for Goodwater’s Chamber of Commerce. The lady I spoke with said she had never heard of the place. Then she said, “Hold on a minute. Let me give you the number of the oldest man in Goodwater. If anyone would remember this place he would.” After a moment she came back to the phone and gave me the number. I called the old gentleman, introduced myself and asked, “Do you by chance remember Big Mama’s truck stop?” He thought for a moment then said – “Yes, there was a place called Big Mama’s truck stop. It was on the edge of town.”
I can’t tell you how excited I was. After months of writing and researching I had the opportunity to go to Hood River, Oregon where much of this story takes place. As I walked through a cherry orchard there and thought of Tim and his family and the arduous road they traveled I was moved to tears.
I believe as you read this heart rending, soul stirring story of love you will experience a wide range of emotions as I did. You will laugh and cry and, above all, redefine your definition of what a hero really is.