Meeting Cleo

I couldn’t come all this way on holiday without making a point of seeing Cleo, the girls’ old friend from their summer working at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, CO, with whom I’ve been corresponding for the past three or four years. Readers of ‘Bedpans and Bobby Socks’ might remember that, tragically, he lost his parents, sister Roberta and young nephew in a tornado back in his hometown in Kansas that same summer (1958), which shocked the girls and brought them all closer. On his return to the hotel after a short time off he even asked Gwenda to marry him.

And so we drove from Flagstaff to Mesa, which is part of the huge Phoenix metropolitan area. It was a dramatic day, which began with an early-morning phone call in which Cleo told me that he wouldn’t be able to see us after all as he had just written off his car in an accident on the freeway. He had decided to set off early to surprise us and been blinded by the sun, colliding with another car. He came off the worst but luckily no one was badly hurt. I dread to think what might have happened …

Luckily things worked out and he turned up at our hotel in a hire car a few hours later. Cleo is a lovely man and looks a lot younger in person than his 87 years. I feel sad that he didn’t marry and have children of his own, though he is close to some of his nieces and nephews. I’ve told Gwenda, Pat and Molly that they ought to return on a 60th-anniversary road trip next year and then perhaps they will all be able to get together again.

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