A long-ago random act of kindness

Many of us in Amarillo think we’re a community of courteous and thoughtful people. It’s gratifying when we hear from visitors who say the same thing.

This note came to me overnight from Verona, Wis. It’s from Rick Tiedemann, who told a story about his aging father’s long-ago trip through Amarillo at the end of World War II.

To wit:

“I had the honor of assisting my father, a World War II veteran, to Washington, D.C. We were on Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization to help veterans see their Memorial before it is too late. You might be familiar with it and there were several Texans attending with him. It was a weekend that I know I will remember forever. You see my father, Lloyd Tiedemann, is of failing health and 88 years old; this is his last trip.

“Let me get to the point of why I’m contacting you. I got to hear many stories from my dad about WWII and his experiences, many for the first time. One of them was about your city.

“My father was a sailor aboard the USS Essex in the Pacific front. It is always eye awakening to hear what people went through in that war 65 years ago. When the war was over his ship came back to Seattle and he was discharged. He and some buddies decided that rather than go home they would take a little adventure trip around the country. Being from the little town of Belmont WI (population 800) he had not seen much of the world until WWII. So he traveled down the west coast of California, into Nevada and eventually ending up in your city. You might ask how he did it well the old-fashion way of hitch hiking. For many that seems like a strange word but it was a different time. He hitched a ride from a guy in show business that was headed to New York and was driving across the country from Los Angeles. They stayed in a motel on the edge of Amarillo for a night. The next morning he remembers they were in a hurry to get on the road. It was a few hundred miles down the road before he realized that he forgot his wallet under his pillow. He was in a panic because he had all his discharge papers and pay in that wallet close to $1,000. Stopping to telephone, he was able to remember and contact the lady that owned the motel. When asking if anyone had found a wallet she said they had and it was already being mailed home. Not a single penny was taken from his wallet and it got to his parents’ house before he did.

“The first thing my dad did after getting his wallet back was send that lady from Amarillo a dozen red roses.

“Well it doesn’t sound like much of a story to some but for him it was a reminder of how people are good, honest and respectful. It was a different time yes but I still believe like my father that people are good.

“I will always have a sweet spot in my heart for you folks in Amarillo, Texas. I know my dad does.”

Well, Rick, we still have nice folks just like that lady at the motel. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

And thank your dad for me for his service to the country.