When I was about sixteen and ready for my first car, my uncle sold me this:
A Datsun 200 SX. (This photo isn't my actual car) It wasn't the hottest looking car around, but it drove like it was! It was a five speed, with leather interior and a minuscule backseat. I don't remember if if had cruise control or not, but it certainly needed it. Do you remember the story about my dad being shot by the police? It seems I've inherited some of my driving tendencies from him. Get places and get there fast might have been my motto!
In my defense, this car drove so smoothly that you could easily go
But alas, my beloved car was only mine to drive for about a year.
Let me set the scene for you:
A few miles north of our house is a grove of trees that we drove through every time we went to church or school. It was a large grove, almost a forest by Northwest Oklahoma tree standards and we kids used to wonder if perhaps the three bears lived there. There actually were two little cottages. One was a tiny two room house inhabited by a very elderly lady and the other was a slightly bigger house in which her slightly elderly son and daughter-in-law lived in. This wooded road is fairly dim most of the day and it is sandy. The trees grow right to the edge of the roadway.
I remember the evening well. It was a Wednesday night in May of 1981 and I was on my way to church. I had a glass of tea in one hand and gripped the steering wheel with the other. As I approached the woods, I slowed a bit, because that is what you do. Believe it or not, I wasn't driving all that fast because the road was sandy and even as a teenager, I didn't speed (much) on dirt roads.
On that fateful Wednesday night, on a sandy road in dimly lit circumstances, some of the most beautiful birds in the world almost contributed to my demise.
There, in the center of the roadway, looming out of the gloaming, was an ostentation of peacocks. I knew that the family who lived in the woods owned peacocks, but we didn't often see them. I was 16, I panicked. I slammed on the brakes to miss the beautiful (and huge) birds, slid to the edge of the sandy roadway, ran up a tree and rolled my car.
An eternity later, when all four wheels were once again on the ground, I sat there amidst broken glass, and spilled tea. But I only sat there for an instant. I had watched enough television to know that wrecked cars blow up, so I got the heck out of Dodge (or the Datsun, whatever).
With superhuman strength, I pushed open the car door and ran like the wind to the nearest house. I kept thinking--"How will I tell my parents, how will I tell my parents, how will I tell my parents?"
I knocked on the door and a sweet little slightly elderly lady greeted me. "Oh my," I'm sure she said. I asked if I could call my parents because I had just wrecked my car trying to avoid 'some stupid peacocks in the road.' (Did I ever tell you that I'm not particularly diplomatic? Because who do you think the dumb birds belonged to???)
So I called home, still thinking how to break it gently that I had smashed my car. When someone answered, I yelled (in a sweet voice, naturally), "I just wrecked my car."
The little old lady very nicely allowed me to use her bathroom, where I proceeded to pull large handfuls of hair from my head. I had just a few cuts from broken glass, but the shards that flew through my hair, cut it as efficiently as thinning shear. I have no idea what I did with it. Probably dropped it in the sink and ran out to check if my car had blown up yet! (it didn't)
Soon my parents and my grandparents, and my sisters and brother arrived. After asking if I was ok, (the car looked really bad) my grandmother said, and I quote: "You were probably driving like a bat out of hell."
Really. Grandma! You shock me! I thought that was just the name of the currently popular "Meat Loaf" album!
Then the police showed up. I think there were at least fifteen cars there, cause you know when one policeman goes to the scene of an accident, the rest all manage to show up. (oh, I jest! I think!) For the record, the skid marks showed I was only going about forty-five at the time.
About this time (is this story going on too long for you?) it was after eight and Wednesday night prayer meeting was over. My best friends, Danna and Rod, had waited in vain for me to show up. I was supposed to spend the night with Danna that night and she knew I would be at church! They called my house but there was no answer, so they decided to head on over and see what I was up to.
The look of horror on their faces as they drove up pierced my heart. They saw the car. They saw the glass. They saw the broken tree. They saw the fifteen police cars. They feared the worst.
So I stepped from the throng of people, to show them that I was in one piece. Actually many pieces if you count the loose hair that was still coming off my head, but mostly I was ok! There was great rejoicing and hugging and tears among friends and family. There was a lecture from one of the highway patrolmen about speed and sand and knowing where the peacocks lived.
I ended up staying the night with my friend. I told everyone I was fine. I spent a long time in the shower washing off hair and glass pieces. There were a few bits embedded in my back and head that continued to work their way out even after I was married!
I favored my collar bone all that summer and the week following the accident I 'got' to go to Girl's State and everywhere we went on the campus at Ada, these manic drill sergeant's in skirts forced us to run, jarring my 'non-injury.' I wouldn't have liked Girl's State if I were completely healthy. That week was really, really miserable.
You know, looking back, that summer was not a good one for our family. My wreck was the beginning of a long line of disasters.
Early on the morning a friend and I were to be driven to Girl's State in Ada, my mom stepped off the edge of a porch and fell and broke her arm. Then when we got back from Girl's State, I was helping my dad work on the combine (cause Mom was in a cast, you know) and he was putting new blades in the sickle. They are really sharp. I cut my finger off. Later that week, while I was in the hospital and everyone else was in the field, my brother was in the truck shoveling wheat when the augur on the combine swung around and hit him in the head, resulting in a trip to the emergency room.
Good grief! How did my parents survive that? I can just picture my mom, in her sling or cast or whatever bringing my bloody-headed brother in and the doctor thinking, "Weren't you just in here last week with a child with a cut off finger?"
And you know what? My parents were farmer/ranchers. We didn't have any insurance. They paid their own doctor bills and we all survived.
Note: no peacocks were injured in the above incident.