Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 24, 2010

EC a great place for help

Staff Writer

Pauls Valley — Dear Editor,

I’d like you folks to know what happened to us in Elmore City on Sunday afternoon, March 21.

The back story is that my son and his best friend, high school seniors, are riding their bicycles across the United States to raise money for clean water wells in Haiti.

They started March 4 in Santa Monica, Calif., and plan to finish on April 1 or 2 in Savannah, Ga. The whole story is at My wife and I are driving the chase car, a GMC Yukon.

At any rate, our journey took us through eastern Oklahoma on Highway 29 East.

We drove ahead of the boys about 15 miles in order to find a store and ended up in Elmore City at the Gas and Go.

We went in, bought a few things and then went to the car. The car wouldn’t even crank. It had been running perfectly, which it should have since we had to replace the engine in N.M. a few days before.

But there we were, in a town where we knew no one, on a Sunday afternoon, with a broken-down car, and our two teenage boys somewhere on Highway 29 with no support.

I had noticed a few men sitting in one of the booths talking, so I went in, introduced myself, and told them our predicament.

The men, David Lynn and George Brister, listened to our problem, and suddenly, it became their problem.

They said I needed to call a mechanic named Allen Johnson. They weren’t able to find the number, so David Lynn simply drove me over to Mr. Johnson’s house.

Mr. Johnson came to the door, learned our situation and immediately drove to our car and began working on it - on Sunday afternoon.

In about 30 minutes he diagnosed and solved an electrical problem due to a mistake made when installing the engine. His comment: “It’s easy for this kind of thing to happen when installing an engine. It could happen to anybody.”

I don’t know what it is like to live in Elmore City, Okla., but I do know what it feels like to be broken down in a town where you don’t know anyone, when you’re responsible for the safety and welfare of two boys riding through the countryside.

And if Elmore City has more people like Allen Johnson, David Lynn and George Brister, then it must be a great place to live.

Mike Gatliff

Memphis, Tenn.