Another Tall Tale: Carmel & the Road to Celibacy

Tale Tales by Raconteur Cavallero
“The Road from Celibacy Goes through Carmel”

It was October 1969; three months after the Zodiac killer started his reign of terror in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. It was also one month before at a seminary 75 miles to the south in Santa Cruz my older brother Mike would complete his studies to become a priest.

Eight years earlier in Madera, California, a parish priest convinced my Mom and Dad that at 12 years old my brother was ready to make such an important life decision.

Now 20 and just 30 days away from making his final vows, WHAMMO. Mike discovered women. He called the next day. The next morning Dad drove 200 miles to the coast to pick up my brother.

Dad rarely took a day off, so he capitalized on the drive home to detour south down Highway 1 to visit Carmel. About 30 miles outside of town they happened upon a stranded motorist, the hood raised and steam billowing up from the radiator of the man’s red 1964 Mustang convertible.

Dad stopped, and offered the man a ride into town. He was a tall, rangy fellow in his mid-30s with a shock of brown hair. He squinted a lot and spoke in a slow, clipped manner, when he spoke at all.

A Goldwater conservative and an affable man, Dad struck up a conversation with the stranger. The subject turned to the Zodiac case. No shrinking violet, my father told the stranger what he would do and what the authorities should do when they catch this killer. The man with no name listened intently, as though he was memorizing every word my father spoke.

After eight cloistered years and now irritated that he had been relegated to the back seat, Mike was thinking about women and paid no attention to the stranger or the conversation.

The conversation petered out. Then, casually, almost imperceptibly, the man reached inside his coat. His hand froze there; he looked at my father. His eyes narrowed.

He pulled out – a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. My dad threw a nod in my brother’s direction and shook his head. The stranger squinted hard, scowled and returned the contraband from whence it came.

Dad dropped the man at a mechanic’s once they reached town. He offered my father money for his time and trouble. Dad declined, explaining that he couldn’t take money for helping someone in need. They shook hands and Dad drove off.
Cut to two years later.

Dad rarely went to the movies, but wanted to see a new film called “Dirty Harry.” It was the story of a San Francisco cop’s hunt for a serial killer and it was based on the Zodiac slayings.230px-harry_callahan

Mom wouldn’t go because she didn’t like violence, so Dad took me.  We enjoyed the movie. As we were leaving the theatre, Dad said, “That’s him.  The man I gave a ride to when your brother and I visited Carmel two years ago. I never did get his name.”

From that day on, my brother Mike, who loved women so much that he married three of them, never stopped talking about the time Dad gave Clint Eastwood a ride and the role Dad played in shaping the character of Eastwood’s iconic Inspector Harry Callahan in the film that made Eastwood a superstar.
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