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Friday, Nov. 28, 2014
Almost an illegal immigrantPosted Saturday, September 22, 2007, at 5:09 PM
There were four of us and I still don't think we looked like suspicious characters. We were all in the Navy, three of us from Tennessee and one from Paducah, KY, and just back from a tour overseas and headed home on 30 days leave.
One man, from Chattanooga, had a car stored in San Diego. We were going to split expenses and share the driving on the trip back to Tennessee. We had stopped somewhere in Arizona and had a good meal and it was my turn to drive.
Of course this was before one could simply get on interstate highways. We had poured over maps seeking the shortest route.
All was going well. Two were sleeping and one was awake to talk to me while I was driving in case I started to get sleepy. For 30 or 40 miles the road we were on had been getting progressively worse, but we thought we were only on a stretch of bad highway. Then we drove up on a fairly small wooden building beside the road with a red light flashing.
Two men were in the building. One of them stepped out and asked where we were from and if we had any fruits or vegetables from Mexico. I told him we hadn't been to Mexico. He asked me just where I thought I was. I told him Arizona. The other man stepped out to join him and they ordered all four of us desperados out of the car and inspected the vehicle.
"Where did you enter into Mexico," he demanded. We told him we were just back from overseas and had left San Diego late that afternoon.
"You had to enter somewhere because you're coming out of Mexico now," he informed us in a not too friendly voice. "There's no way you could have missed it or driven right through a crossing without being stopped."
It took a hectic 30 minutes or so to convince them we had no idea where we might have driven across the line into Mexico.
As they allowed us to leave, they directed us how to get back on the road we thought we had been following.
As I drove away, one of my companions laughed and said, "We're going back to sleep. You two stay wide awake and try to stay out of Mexico and on the road to Tennessee."
We only knew we were somewhere near Benson, Ariz., that night when I apparently took the wrong road and we were on the road to becoming semi-illegal immigrants.
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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette. He passed away November 15, 2014, at age 81.