H. Neal Glanville: A crash with Gerry
February 7, 2011
Meeting people should be an experience that's both enjoyable and somewhat rewarding. After all, there's someone new in front of you, and there will be enlightening conversation and possibly a new friend in your future.
Should be …
The first time I met, rather bumped into, Gerry Spence, renowned trial attorney and author of several best-selling books, he had just pulled his motor home to a stop in front of the Caterpillar grader I was operating.
I dropped my "V" plow snow blade, locked up all six wheels and watched as man and machine slid gracefully into the rear of his gazillion dollar home on wheels.
I've been told in those days, the early 1980s, that I was or may have been, a bit of a hothead, which may or may not have pushed me out of that grader ready to do battle for the honor of my grader's V-shaped nose, which was indented in this home's rear end.
As I marched towards the door of the motor home, the part of my brain that handles these situations kicked in and had me zip up my coveralls and take off anything the enemy could grab.
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The door swung open and out came this guy pulling down a XXX Beaver cowboy hat on his long-haired head and wearing a fringed jacket that I've yet to see anybody wear as well.
"You OK, son?" his voice boomed, as he walked to the back of his gazillion dollar wheeled house.
Just as I was about to out-boom his voice and regain my grader's honor, another man stepped out of the motor home and turned to me.
There's a look some men have that others know and choose to respect as they wait the better part of a heartbeat before deciding to jump in feet first.
"Seems I'm the worst for wear," the booming voice said.
"Guess I should have checked that mirror," he added, pointing to the bedroom-sized mirror attached to the passenger side of his home.
"I'm Gerry Spence," he said, sticking his open hand out. "Came up from Rock Springs for a bit of a trial."
Well, as life will have it, we'd been living so far up the road I'd just plowed that it took two weeks for any television or radio signal to reach us, so any knowledge we would have gleaned from these appliances was still bouncing around the lodge pole pines on our side of the mountain.
"Everything alright, Mr. Spence?"
That voice I recognized as one of Sublette County's finest deputy sheriffs, who'd taken extreme giggly joy in writing me my last four or five tickets, and I'm sure thought was about to help me become a lengthy resident of the county's facilities.
"Alls well, officer," Mr. Spence started to say as he waved his companion forward and they both started across the street. "If there's a citation to be issued, please put it on the front seat and I'll take care of it after this hearing."
I was starting to like this larger than life attorney.
"You have any freakin' idea who that is?" officer ticket book asked.
"Nope," I replied climbing back into the grader.
"That's the famous attorney Gerry Spence and that man beside him is charged with the first-degree murder of his undercover partner in Rock Springs."
"Thought I recognized that look," I said, backing up the grader so I could make the final pass up our 12 or 14 miles of road.
Mr. Spence got his client off with a brilliant self-defense argument and I spent several more years living just out of reach of any signals from the outside world.
The next time we met was in Boise, Idaho. I was lying face down in the grass, and he was laughing aloud.
Hey, you be careful out there and stay to the light.