As my octogenarianism grows into its fifth year, my mind continues to wonder as I wander.
I didn’t have a collision with another car until I was an experienced driver.
My first afore mentioned ‘practical’ car was 41 Ford 2-door sedan. My aunt insisted that she carry the rarely gifted flat of thirty eggs when we were returning to town from one of our occasional visits to Grandpa’s farm. The jugs of raw milk and freshly picked vegetables were carefully packed in the trunk of the two-door sedan.
There were ten of us in the car. Mother, Aunt, and I had the front seat. My six younger siblings and toddler cousin were tightly crammed into the back. Seatbelts were for race cars in those days; overpacking a passenger car wasn’t wise, but neither was it against the law.
There were ridges of gravel on the road except in places where a vehicle had met another and one or both pulled aside. The loose gravel ridges between and outside the ruts were tire deep in many places, so turning to the side to meet another vehicle safely required a good bit of skill and experience. Ditches on either side of the road were nearly as deep as a boy was tall and there was little slope before the drop-off into cattails or tall grass.
We were nearing an intersection and I thought it would be wise to steer the car to near the edge of the road in case someone turned facing us and would need room to pass. As I turned to the right, I shifted down to second gear and gave the V8 engine a little extra gas to get over the gravel ridges. My foot was still on the accelerator pedal when the partly turned front wheels were forced full right by the very loose gravel.
My attempt to straighten the car was in vain. I didn’t have the strength to keep the front wheels from following the path I’d started, and the gravel took control of their direction. I thought gunning the engine and turning the steering wheel a hard left would help.
Before I could recover and straighten the car, it was fully into the ditch at about a 30-degree tilt. We were all scrunched and tangled together, but uninjured.
After I shut off the engine, there was complete silence until Mother asked if everyone was OK, but no one except Aunt said anything. She was pressed against the passenger side door by Mother and holding the egg tray horizontal and partly outside the window. She yelled, “I saved the eggs.”
I don’t remember how we got out of the car but exiting through the passenger side door was impossible. A farmer pulled the car out of the ditch with his tractor.
There was no real damage other than weeds and grass caught between the running board and fenders and a slightly bent trim piece.