"Muhammad Ali, former world-heavyweight boxer, held court for several hours in the Bear House Cafe, Bunker Hill. Traveling with his secretary, Marge Thomas, from Chicago to Los Angeles, the well-known world figure stopped in Bunker Hill shortly after noon Wednesday when the water pump went out on his silver-gray Stutz Bearcat.
"While Nyal French and Mitch Pasek repaired the car in the nearby Tri-States Truck and Trailer sales and repair shop, the fighter had a cup of soup and signed autographs for truckers and others who stopped at the cafe.
" 'I enjoy meeting people everywhere I go,' Muhammad Ali said, as some youngsters stopped by the counter and apologized for bothering him....
"Waitress Lee Modlin began her first day on the job just a few hours before Ali's noon arrival at the cafe, which gets its name from the two bears housed in cages at a service station next door.
" 'I about died,' she said. 'He was real nice and real sweet. He signed a lot of autographs for us here.'
"Her husband, Lloyd Modlin, helped repair the water pump on Ali's Stutz Bearcat in about 90 minutes.
"The car, a handmade luxury model, has an Oldsmobile engine and the pump replacement wasn't as difficult as mechanics thought it would be.
"When Muhammad Ali learned that Kansas City is 235 miles away, Denver about 400 miles and Wichita about 155 miles, he shook his head and said, 'Man, I'm right in the middle of nowhere....' "
A LETTER FROM OUR SOCCER WRITER
Seattle, Wash. 98104
April 23, 1983