The Smell of Tweed

by Olivia Solomon

On New Years 1974, I was on three-month job training at Mercy Hospital in San Diego on the graveyard shift from three to midnight as a medical record clerk.

While driving home at 1AM, my car began to slow down. It was very cold and rainy. Because my gas gauge was not working (among other things!) I couldn't tell if I was out of gas, or if it was another problem. As I slowly maneuvered the car onto the side of the road it just died. I kept trying to start it, but eventually I gave up.

It was flooded. With the windows up, the fumes smelled awful and I began to choke. Crying, I asked God to do something because I didn't want to die out in this cold and the fumes were sickening. I was afraid to get out of the car, which was sitting in mud.

Suddenly a heavily bearded black man was looking into my window and signaling to me to roll down the window. In panic I started yelling, "I can't, you're going to kill me."

Finally I calmed down and he persuaded me to open the door. I couldn't see his face with all the hair on it and his collar was wrapped up high. I actually thought it was a dark mask until he got into the car.

"Move on over lady," he said. I thought my two choices were to either die in the cold or by this man's hands. When I moved over, he climbed into the driver seat, wearing a wet heavy tweed coat.

The car started miraculously. He drove to the end of the freeway ramp, which would lead us toward a gas station. About a hundred yards from the gas station, he said, "Grab the steering wheel, lady."

As he came to a stop I reached for the steering wheel from the passenger side. The man stepped out and I coasted the car into the gas station, steering from the passenger side.

The attendant, who had seen me roll up, asked, "What in the hell are you doing driving the car from the passenger side?"

Emotionally I answered, "That the man back there helped me get my car started and drove it in." Two attendants looked for this man who could not have disappeared that fast. They searched the entire area. They would not have believed me but for one thing. I had told them the man was drenched and wearing a tweed coat - they could actually smell the damp tweed. But my driver seat was completely dry, and the floor was dry. There was no other sign of a drenching wet angel other than the smell of tweed.


Olivia Jean Solomon has since had an encounter with a man who reminded her of the angel on the freeway that night. While jogging with other office employees, Olivia had money in her pocket to purchase a yogurt as she always did during lunchtime. The yogurt machine was broken so she jogged on.

Then she noticed a bearded black man with a humble face. He looked homeless. As she passed him, Olivia had an impulse to go back and give him the change that she had in her pocket, so she did. He just stared and said, "Thank you, Lady"

Olivia felt this strange feeling that she had heard this voice before and thinks about it all the time.

She can be reached at


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