By Clifford Cox
Whittier, California, USA
It was the middle of nowhere, 30 below, and the wind was blowing something fierce. I hadn’t seen anyone else on the road for an hour. I was driving my little Pinto station wagon out in eastern Montana on a very cold January day in 1964.
Suddenly, my car sputtered and died.
My winter traveling trunk (containing emergency insulated coveralls, flares, food, etc.) was in the rear. I had to walk ten feet to the hatch to put the coveralls on. By the time I jumped back inside with teeth chattering, the car was colder than a freezer.
I had a CB radio, so I started calling for help. Knowing no trucks used that road, I could only hope for another motorist crazy enough to be driving, or someone with a home base radio in this unpopulated area.
After ten minutes of silence, a female voice came strongly through: “Hi, Cliffhanger! This is ‘Hot Mama Base.’ You’re coming in loud and clear. Where are you?”
I gave her the last highway road marker I’d seen (maybe a mile north) and told her what had happened. “Sounds like a frozen gas line, Cliffhanger. Have you tried adding de-icer?”
No, I replied, I added my last can at the last gas stop, and they didn’t have any more. Would you call AAA for me, ma’am?
“You gotta be kidding!” she laughed. “You’ll never get one of those boys up here on a day like this. They’re working Highway 2 where all the wrecks are. You’re not far from me; I’ll be there in about 20 minutes. Don’t go away.” She laughed again.
During the next 20 minutes the cold worsened. The wind was blowing so hard the car rocked constantly. My teeth chattered the entire time.
She came driving up the northbound lane in a large Chrysler station wagon, and stopped alongside my car. She was about sixty, with a very pleasant smile. She handed me two large cans of anti-freeze for the gas tank. I added them both and ran over to her car and told her I would be OK. She stayed and said, “Go see if your car will start. If it won’t, I’m gonna push you to my house.”
So I ran to my car — teeth still chattering like a lawn mower — and it started right up. I ran back over. I started handing her money to cover the expenses and trouble, but she jumped in dismay.
“Stop that, Cliffhanger! You can’t pay me for a rescue. You just do something nice for someone else sometime.”
That was more than twenty years ago and as a result of that encounter, as she recommended, I’ve tried to help others as much as I can. “Hot Mama Base” was not only a very nice person and a lifesaver, but a life-changer as well.