On a Saturday in early July 1972, Tell walked among thousands of Freiburg residents and single-day tourists eager to taste the first vintages of the year. The free-market community in the heart of the wine-growing region hosted the annual event. The mood was festive and carefree, though everyone avoided falling or stepping into one of the free-flowing water gutters (Bächle) in town, lest they suffer the legendary consequence after falling into a Bächle—having to marry a Freiburger.
His wine tasting completed, perhaps with a glass or two of his favorites, Lauffener Katzenbeisser’s Schwarzrieling and Canstadter Zuckerle—the latter named after the Stuttgart suburb where he’d grown up—Tell headed home in the 280 SL through the Black Forest at dusk. By day, the sunshine glinted between the tall conifers like reflections off brook riffles, by nightfall raindrops fell. Having secured the top on the vehicle, Tell turned on his wipers and maneuvered the twists and turns of the wet pavement with both hands upon the wheel. He was in a good mood. Feeling fulfilled, he whistled a few notes from his favorite Beethoven symphony, “Ta, da-da-dah . . . ta, da-da-dah.”
As serendipity would have it, around the next bend, dramatic changes for Tell unfolded.
From the moment he laid eyes on the distressed beauty with a flat tire—the woman, not the car—Tell’s journey through life was altered, although he did not know it at the time. He only knew what his eyes saw.
The woman in front of him looked curvaceous under her rain-soaked silk blouse and shorts, and she looked like she needed some help. He slowed and pulled over to see what he could do.
Tell hopped out of his car and was rummaging through her trunk before they exchanged any words. In minutes, her car was jacked up about as high as her blood pressure. She scanned over her Good Samaritan’s tall and tanned physique, thinking, He’s as German as they come. She also adored his take-charge attitude.
With the flat tire replaced and the spare parts squared away in the trunk, Tell saluted the stranger and was about to take his leave when a lightning bolt flashed and cracked a tree nearby. The ear-splitting thunderclap frightened the startled woman, who pushed against him.
A different kind of electricity rifled through both of them. Speechless, they kissed.
Tell broke away and asked her name.
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