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Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Remember the Doctor's 1960 Cadillac

When I was seventeen years old I had graduated high school, gotten a job in town and was making a whole $1.00 an hour.  That was really good since all I had ever made, as a farm laborer was 50 cents an hour.  Since I had to go the three miles to town to work each day I had finally bought the first car that our family had ever owned.  I had purchased a 1953 Ford four door for $250.00. Life was great.

Our house was a four-room clapboard house with a big porch on the front and back side of the house. The porches were half the width of the house and about twelve feet deep.  The front porch was on the east side of the house and the back porch was on the west side.   My bedroom and the front porch were about the same size and made up the front part of the house and faced the highway that ran in front of the house. 

We seldom used the front porch since the pump; outhouse, garden, mailbox and driveway were all off of the back porch.  The house was built on concrete blocks, it had eight inch by eight inch timbers under the house with floor joists nailed to them and it sat about two feet off of the ground.  During the winter we would close the space under the house up with boards to keep the cold wind out and in the spring we would take them down and store them under the porch to let the wind blow under. The house sat at a crossroads intersection of a fairly busy highway.  The highway was on a raised embankment about five feet higher than our front yard.  It was fairly common to witness auto accidents in front of our house.  One day I heard a crash and when I looked out my bedroom window I saw one of our neighbors cars coming straight for my window, and me.  Luckily they were able to get it stopped within a couple of feet of the house.  They had run the stop sign and gotten hit by another car, which spun them around and off into our front yard.

One summer night as I lay in bed, almost asleep, I heard a crash out in front of the house.  I jumped up and looked out my window but couldn’t see anything.  The noise had also woke my mom and sisters so when I came out of my bedroom with a flash light headed for the back door they were headed for my bed room to look out my window.  When I got to the front of the house there was nothing there.  There was nothing on the highway and nothing in the yard.  I walked up onto the shoulder of the highway and looked with my flashlight in both directions, nothing.  As I walked back across the front yard my light shone on the front porch, or rather on what had been the front porch.  It was gone!  There was no porch left except for about three feet of the corner where it joined the kitchen and my bedroom.  The eight-inch wooden beam was lying on the ground, the posts that supported the roof were hanging down from the roof, and everything else was gone except for splinters.  Needles to say my stomach did a flip-flop.  I looked at what was left of the porch then looked where my bedroom was.  What ever had taken out the front porch had missed my bed, and me, by about eight feet.  I looked around and still saw nothing that could have caused the damage.  As I looked at the porch I noticed tire tracks going across our garden, which was east of the house.  I followed the tracks, by flashlight, through the garden, through the soybean field, which was just east of the garden, all the way back up onto the embankment of the highway and back down into the soybean field.  About that time I saw light come on out in the field.  It was about three hundred yards from the house and about seventy-five yards off of the highway.  As I walked toward the light I met an older lady and gentleman who were coming to my light.

It turned out that a doctor and his wife were returning to their home in Blytheville.  The doctor had gotten tired and had laid down in the back seat for a nap and his wife was driving.  She was not familiar with the road and failed to see the intersection as she came from the north and needed to turn east.  When she ran the stop sign and landed in our front yard her foot slipped off of the brake of the new Cadillac she was driving and floored the car through the house and across the field.  Even as I write this I still get a chuckle thinking of that doctor waking up in the back floorboard when she slammed on the brakes and shot off of a five-foot bank into our front yard.  Luckily neither of them were hurt.  They asked if anyone could drive them home, twenty-six miles.  I consented and they climbed into my 1953 ford.  We had a very good conversation on the way to their home, even a few laughs by everyone, even the boy who almost wound up in bed with a new Caddie.  They tried to pay me for taking them home and of course I refused.  You just didn’t charge people to help them out in that part of the country in those days.  The doctor promised that he would send a crew of men the next week to repair all damage to our house.  He was true to his word, he even offered to pay my uncle for the damage his car had caused to the soybean field.  When I got into my car the next morning to go to work there lay a twenty-dollar bill.  The doctor had paid me for my trouble even though I had refused his offer.  You know to this day it still amazes me that as I lay in bed and had the porch ripped off of the house less than eight feet from where I lay I can not remember ever feeling or hearing any part of the crash that registered with me in any way. I didn’t know the house had been hit until I saw it. I think that a maybe a clapboard house doesn’t have enough lumber in it to shake much.

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