Friday, February 18, 2011

Flashback Friday - A Total Wreck

Thinking primarily of your growing-up years and your early years of driving, have you ever been in an auto accident? Were you a passenger or the driver? Were you injured? How badly was the car damaged? Whose fault was it? What was the attitude of your parents toward "fender benders" and tickets? Were minor dings and scrapes a big deal? Have you ever received a traffic ticket? If more than one, 'fess up: how many? Any warnings? Has a family member or close friend been seriously injured or killed in an accident? Have you ever witnessed a bad accident and stopped to render aid or give a statement? What role, if any, did seat belts and car seats have in your early years?

As long as I can remember, my mom worried about family members--or anyone else, for that matter--getting in an auto accident. I think this stemmed from two incidents. One happened when she was in college. Although her parents lived in town, they owned a fairly large piece of property and had several horses. One day my mom was walking while my aunt and grandmother were riding horses. A man came speeding down the road and hit my grandmother's horse. He was later heard to say at a gas station that he had always wondered what it would feel like to hit a horse. I guess he must have done it on purpose. My grandmother was in the hospital for a year and had seven surgeries; she never regained complete use of her her right hand and arm.

The second incident happened not too many years later when a couple that my parents were friends with were killed in a car wreck in a town about halfway between Houston and Austin. Although it happened years before I was born, I remember that we always called Smithville "the dangerous town" and breathed a sigh of relief when we safely made it through. It's funny now that I think of that; it was no more prone to fatal wrecks than any other town, but because it had significance to our family, it seemed more likely.

I had my first minor fender bender when I was in college; I think I was home for the summer. I was coming out of a parking lot and two lanes of traffic which were stopped for a light left room for me to come out; as I crept out trying to get into the left lane to turn at the intersection a gal came zipping up and clipped me. Of course, since I was the one entering the road, it was my fault, but I don't think we even called the police. I called my dad (from a pay phone; those were the days long before cells!) and he came. He wasn't too happy with me. I realize now that much of the time his gruffness was a cover for his worry and relief, but I would have preferred to have seen a little of that worry and a little less gruffness.

I think that was the only wreck I had, other than when the deer hit my van a few days after my mom died, until last week.

When I was in my late twenties, a friend from church was killed by a drunk driver at 9:00 on a Sunday morning as she was on her way to get doughnuts for our Sunday School class. Her husband was hunting and her 3-year-old son was with her; he was not hurt. My man and I passed the wreck on the way to church and I could tell at least one person had died and felt really burdened to pray for those involved when we got to church; I had no idea who was in the wreck, but a lot of our church members went through that intersection on Sunday mornings. That really impacted our Young Adult department and was the first time we were called upon to support one of our own as he became a widower.

I had never gotten any sort of ticket until I was in my thirties. I was the supervisor of Home Health, and one of my nurses had called in sick. Her first patient of the day was diabetic, had to be seen before breakfast, and lived a ways out in the country, and I was hurrying to get to his house -- late because I was not expecting to go until I received her call. Sometimes police officers have been known to just give warnings to nurses in uniform (which had happened to me once before), but since home health nurses wear street clothes, I think he thought it was just an excuse, even though my stethoscope was lying on the seat next to me. I've gotten one for a red light and one in a construction zone and that's it. Which is three too many!

Of course, there were no such things as car seats when I was growing up. When I was a baby, I think my folks had a car bed for me which allowed them to lay me in the back seat without me rolling off onto the floor. And of course seat belts were just lap belts. Shoulder belts didn't come in until sometime in the seventies. And seat belts in the backseat were added later too.

Since there were four kids in our family, when we went on trips, the three older kids sat in the back and I sat in the front between my parents. I usually sat on a little "train case" so I could see out the window. There was no middle seat belt. If I got tired, I would lie down with my head in my dad's lap (between his stomach and the steering wheel!) and my feet in my mom's lap. Of course, now it horrifies me to imagine allowing a child to do that, but that was just the way life was, and no one thought anything about it.

What about you? Share your memories and link up here!


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Nel said...

My mom used to always remember so and so died on this curve or on this straight stretch every time we would go by the places. I guess that is what old people just do. Thanks for hosting this meme! It is very enjoyable, just wish we could get more people involved.
until next time... nel

Jim said...

Hi Linda ~~ I'm wondering if your car bed was in the back of a Ford Pinto? Mrs. Jim and I could put our daughter Karen's little play pen in the back. She slept and played there in ours several times on our trips from Houston to Nebraska and back.

We used to we always call Smithville "the barbeque town" as we often would stop for a meal there. It was always served on brown paper.
BTW, last Saturday I got my first in a long time ticket, a warning ticket for speeding. It was over the Dam B bridge on 190. Speed limit was 55 and I was doing 66, per the Highway Patrolman.
My computer printout warning said I was going five percent over. My bar card next to my DL may have helped me. Could you put your pocket license next to your DL?

Kim said...

We're definitely from the same generation :) It's kinda funny now, after being so seatbelt conscious for so many years (especially as a parent!) I am appalled by how few people use seat belts here in Argentina. And I've NEVER seen anyone using a carseat for a child! Most often kids are left completely untethered in a vehicle, causing me to shudder.


The horse story was so sad. Wrecks are terrible things. I think I will participate today...I have a few stories of my own.

Barbara H. said...

That's so sad that someone would deliberately drive into a horse -- especially with someone on it.

I have similar memories of little ones in the front seat with no seats belts. That's just the way it was then, but I am so thankful seat belts and car seats were invented by the time mine came along.

quilly said...

I don't recall any accidents or tickets from my childhood. I was in my first wreck at AGE 18. A drunk reacted to slowly to a stop sign and came to a halt broadside on I-5. My boyfriend and I -- on a motorcycle -- broad-sided him. I flew over the car and landed on the other side. Miraculously I suffered only minor injuries.

I have had two parking tickets. No speeding tickets. I think I'm happy with that record and would like to keep it that way.

My ADHD Me said...

I too remember laying own in the front seat. There were front seat belts but as did most people, we kept them neatly tucked under the seats.
We had a station wagon at one point and I remember how fun it was to lay the seats down an slide all over the back while my dad drove. Sometimes he would accelerate a bit quickly or stop suddenly for our enjoyment.

WOW, times have changed! With one son that has been driving for 4 years (btw, his most recent car has actually lasted over a year) and another who will be taking drivers ed next year, I am very greatful for the newer safety regulations.
I am especially happy that the state of VA has just passed the bill to prohibit texting and even talking on cell phones while driving. It is expected that the bill will make it to a law and will be passed. That alone deserves a thank you prayer to God.