Let the Sun Shine

by Todd Rockhold
San Diego, California, USA

Let the Sun Shine

In 1970, while in California’s Yosemite National Park on the first day of a week’s vacation, several friends and I rented bicycles to tour the valley floor. I was a naive college kid and had just about all of my life savings in US currency in my wallet. But that was OK — I was being careful, right?

About 2:00 p.m., an almost canonical hippie-mobile pulled up next to us — an old Volkswagen bus hand painted bumper to bumper and top to bottom with a bright yellow sun, pale blue clouds, deep blue lakes, a white crescent moon, dark green trees, some multicolored paisley.

One of those unwashed, unAmerican, lazy, foul-mouthed, long-haired, pot-smoking, likely criminal hippies (as I thought at the time due to an unusually insular, conservative upbringing swallowed whole — well, his hair was in fact long, OK?) was at the wheel. Three or four others were passengers.

The driver called out, “Hey, any one of you know somebody named Todd Rockhold?”

Shocked as almost never before in my lifetime, I managed to mumble “Uh, yeah, that’s me.”

“Groovy!” he said. “We have been looking for you for FIVE HOURS! We’ve been driving all over the valley asking everyone we saw if they know where you are. You dropped your wallet, man!”

To prove there was some mistake, I reached for my wallet in my back pocket… and found nothing. So I walked over and got my wallet back, all the cash still in it. Big smiles on everyone in the bus.

Losing a belief built over much of a lifetime in about 15 seconds, I stood mute as they drove away.

Originally published as HeroicStories #4 on May 8, 1999
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 1.

11 thoughts on “Let the Sun Shine”

  1. Which again goes to prove that “Looks can be deceiving”. It is similar to the impression that many people have about bikers – they only know what they see on TV or in the media. Unfortunately, the media often only shows the troublemakers and not the majority of people who ride and are very helpful.

  2. This goes to show…never judge a book by it’s cover! Some of my best friends are not collar, tie and suit jacket wearers. They look rough and tough and I love them to death. Don’t judge anyone until you walk in their shoes.

  3. Reading this just put a smile on my face. I was one of those hippy-yippies and was indeed judged solely by the clothes I wore and the car I drove. This is something my friends and I would have done. Times have changed, haven’t they?

  4. So many times in my life I have seen my preconceptions about people shattered! I would like to think I have learned not to judge others too hastily, but I still fall into the trap occasionally. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. This is a most wonderful story. I was one of those “unwashed hippies” from the sixties and reading this makes me feel that there was some understanding at the time of who we were.

  6. Love this story! This has happened to me more than once on both sides, I have returned many cash filled wallets in my days, But it was upon the return of a couple that made me see people differently

  7. This is a great story. Because I work in a typically male dominated field and I am a female, I can relate to the misconceptions. Even today almost 25 years later, there are still happening, not as frequent, but neither gone either.

  8. A lesson we all need to apply daily. Look, but best of all listen and watch for actions before assessing another person. You never know what gold lies under that tarnished surface.


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