“It’s as much fun to scare as to be scared’ Vincent Price
Palo Alto means, “Tall Stick”
The city of Palo Alto is known for Stanford University and as the birthplace of the Silicon Valley. It is one of America’s most educated cities.
My husband, Matt grew up on one of the beautiful tree lined streets in Palo Alto, a neighborhood not far from the garage where Hewlett-Packard invented their audio oscillator. Despite the fact that Palo Alto in 1988 was the headquarters of Apple and Atari, and considered the center of the computer industry, it was a small town with a population of 55,000 people. The sun shines 261 days a year on average, it never gets too hot or too cold. It is a safe place for children and the public schools are very good. My husband rode his bike to school every day. His Dad coached his soccer and basketball teams. Matt’s friends thought that his Dad was very strict, as Matt was raised to say, “yes, sir’. Matt was a happy, healthy child with a loving family and many dear friends. He was taught to be generous and kind to others.
Matt and his friends were excited about the Halloween Party that Friday night of his Senior year in high school. As Matt and his buddy, Steve were leaving their high school campus that day after school, they noticed a man standing next to Steve’s car. The stranger asked the boys for a ride downtown so they all hopped into Steve’s 1965 baby blue Mustang convertible. Matt has always been very friendly and he tried to strike up a conversation with their passenger. After the man’s scary glare as a response, Matt began to sense that maybe that “After School Special” about the dangers of strangers and not picking up hitchhikers might have some truth.
As Steve pulled over on a busy downtown corner, the backseat passenger showed Matt his gun and abruptly ordered the boys to drive him to a more secluded location. Both boys breathed a sigh of relief as the hitchhiker told them to stop and park the car in a neighborhood near a creek, and to get out of the car. Steve, out of habit, shut the car off and took the keys out of the ignition, he then nervously turned it back on. Matt and Steve didn’t look back as they ran for their lives. An older man trimming his hedges took the boys into the safety of his house to help them to call the police.
The villain in the baby blue Mustang convertible was spotted within minutes of the Police call from Matt and Steve. A gunfight ensued and the perpetrator took a ricocheted police bullet in his rear end. Matt was driven past a Police car to identify the car thief/kidnapper. There weren’t tinted windows in either Police cruiser, so the handcuffed man saw Matt in the other car. He mumbled something very threatening to Matt at that moment that Matt quickly said, “yup, that’s the guy”..
Next stop is the Police Station where Matt and Steve are required to pick “their guy” out of a line-up. Despite the “wound” the criminal is able to stand up and turns right when told to turn left. Both boys start hysterically laughing and are finally excused, but not before a Police Officer tells them that the hitchhiker is a notorious criminal who was wanted for armed robbery.
As only teenagers can, they head to their Halloween party having had the most memorable day ever!
The next morning at breakfast, Matt’s Dad reads an article on the front page of the local paper about two boys being kidnapped at gunpoint!
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.