Navy Seamen Found Helping Hands in Sturgis

Family does the right thing; offers a ride and a fried chicken dinner to four stranded Navy Seamen in 1942.

Fried Chicken Dinner

A hot meal, including fried chicken and fresh-baked bread, helped turn an unfortunate setback into a heartfelt visit.

Photo By iStockphoto.com/George Bailey

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In the summer of 1942, we lived on a farm 60 miles from Sturgis, South Dakota. In those days, every little community had a country store, a post office and occasionally a repair shop.

My dad and I were at one of those repair shops one day when four young sailors pushed their car in. It was about 11 a.m. The shop owner said he could fix the broken distributor, but the car wouldn’t be ready until 6 that evening.

The sailors were on their way from the Great Lakes area to California to ship out.

My dad, being the person he was, asked the boys if they wanted to ride in the pickup bed; he would take them to our place, feed them, and bring them back when the car was fixed. We lived about 20 miles from the shop. The boys agreed, so off we went.

After a fried chicken dinner with all the fixings, an afternoon of visiting and chores (an eye-opener for the four city-born sailors), we were ready to head back to the shop.

The car was fixed so that they could at least get into Sturgis to have the repairs completed — the car ran, but only at half power. When they got to Sturgis, the sailors couldn’t find anyone to repair the car, so they continued on to California.

About two weeks later, we received a postcard. “We made it OK. Kinda slow uphill but great going downhill. Thanks for everything, most of all the home-baked bread.”

We never heard from them again, and often wondered what happened to them.


GRIT salutes people who do the right thing!

Share your stories of Good Samaritans, helping hands, paying it forward, and other altruistic deeds — whether you were on the receiving end or you remember the great feeling of doing the right thing. Email a 300- to 500-word article to Editor in Chief Hank Will (hwill@grit.com), and we may publish it in a future issue of GRIT. Mail articles to The Right Thing, GRIT Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. The Good Samaritan involved in each printed article, if known, will receive a five-year subscription to GRIT.