The two of them did manage to make it out of town safely, ditching the inspection car and running into a small wooded area where Leo had indeed stashed a getaway vehicle. It was carefully hidden, parked in a small depression at the center of the woods and covered by a large, dark canvas that had branches and bushes arranged on top. The car was as nondescript as it could be for the day, a black 1925 Ford Model T two door sedan, and they both climbed in quickly and started off south away from Olympia. At Veronica’s request Leo took a turn and headed for Tenino, where she said she would catch a train to “somewhere far away from here.” Before actually getting to the station Leo pulled off behind a tree and demanded that Veronica get the money belt out right then and there so they could split their money up properly and fairly. After a few minutes spent lamenting the fact that Leo apparently did not trust her enough to count it out herself she complied and five minutes later they were back on their way to the depot. As she got out of the car she asked Leo a question.
“How did you really know to hide those getaway cars? Did someone tip you off?”
“No, nothing like that. It was just good planning.” He smiled back as he replied, obviously pleased with himself.
“You handled it pretty well Leo, you really did. Stayed cool and got us out. It’s more that I would have credited you with being capable of, you know. You’ve always been a nervous fellow.”
“Well, I had to get better at this criminal stuff sooner or later I guess. Especially as it seems the only life I’m going to be living.”
“Well, good luck to you. Maybe we’ll cross paths again, we already have twice.” She gave him a friendly smile, one of the more pleasant ones she had ever given anyone, and it made Leo just a little bit nervous. “Where you off to Leo?”
He shook his head and replied. “Don’t worry about that, and I won’t worry about where you’re going either. Good luck to you Veronica.”
With that, he reached over and closed the door, taking a moment to wave at her before putting the car in gear and driving away. He had no idea what he was going to do next, but he did know he needed to get very far away from Olympia as quickly as possible. He drove to the point of exhaustion, finally pulling off the road outside Grant’s Pass in Oregon and falling asleep in the back of the car.
The next day he felt comfortable enough to take some time to assess his options. He had almost decided to head to California, somewhere in the northern part of the state, when the idea struck him to head back to Minnesota. He was not quite sure why that suddenly sounded like a good idea, but he could not get it out of his head and eventually decided to heed the call and head back to his state of birth.
Leo left Olympia in early March of 1926 and nothing is known about his route of travel, adventures or misadventures along the way back to Minnesota. He also never mentioned when exactly he decided to return to New Munich, as his original plan was only to go back to Minnesota. We do know that by March 27th of 1926 he was back near his family as an argument he had with his sister Olivia was overhead by some locals. She was the only one from his family who would speak to him at this point and she had agreed to meet him for lunch at the local diner. The argument started before the order was even taken.
“You know I did try to find you a few times. I called around to your old friends, even that man you worked for is Sauk Center. And the Army, I tried there too as you told me several times you were thinking about that as a way out of here. I never found you though, but still, I didn’t forget.”
“It would have been hard to find me Ollie.”
“Well, I changed my name when I left here.”
“You did what Leo? How could you think of such a thing?” Olivia had slapped her hand down on the table as she spoke and several of the patrons turned their heads to look at the two of them, although she did not seem to notice. “What’s so bad about us that you can’t keep your real name? How could you disrespect mother and father like that?” She kept at him for several more sentences until Leo held up his hand to stop her.
“Listen, it wasn’t like that. I just, well,” he paused and shrugged, “I just wanted a new start, that’s all.”
“Whatever would you need that for?”
“Nothing, no reason,” Leo replied, waving his hand, “can we talk about something else?”
“I won’t accept it Leo, I just won’t, that’s all. You’ll be a Hombert to us forever so don’t try any other name out around here. Don’t you dare, ok?”
…to be continued