My first car, which I sort of inherited from my younger brother, Joe, was a 1955 Studebaker Regal Sport Coup, which I was proud enough of when I got it to have the engine block, and weather stripping around the doors replaced. I also had the car repainted to what the body man told me were the original colors, which were senora beige and rancho red
The Studebaker looked good and ran well enough for me to get back and forth to work at the cabinet factory I had worked at from 1969 to 1971, but by the start of 1971, knew that it was only a matter of time before something would break or wear out on the 1955 Studebaker and the day I drove up to the Studebaker dealership in Mt. Pleasant and there were no Studebakers parked out front I knew that my days of driving back and forth to work in it were numbered.
Have you ever asked God for something and have him answer back and tell you what he will actually deliver and under what conditions? Well! I did.
I asked him for a new car, $10,000, a girlfriend named Mary Sue, and a cross-in-the-sky.
God answered back and said, “Are you willing to give up the Studebaker and some of the use of your left leg.” I thought about it and replied “Yes.”
God asked, “Would you be willing to settle for $7,000?” I said, “I am not greedy, if you can’t do $10,000, I’ll settle for $7,000.”
God said, “You can keep Mary Sue only if you can persuade her to get out of your new car while there is a cross in the sky. I asked God, “What if I physically forced Mary Sue out of my new car?” God said, “Don’t even consider it.” I mentally shook hands with God, went to bed, and thought no more about the deal I had made.
Several months later, the owner of the cabinet factory offered an insurance hospitalization plan that covered 80% of their hospital bill if the employee got sick or had an accident. I asked several times, “What if I had to have more than one doctor.” All I was told was that the plan covered 80% and only one doctor and the activation date was March 29. At that point, the voice of God answered in my head, “That date is in time, but just barely.”
I thought no more about what God had said until I sat down beside Lilly Gilmore. I asked her if she had signed up for the insurance plan. She said, “No.” For some reason, I compared the insurance plan to having a pair of antique crutches lying around. They serve no purpose until you have an accident and need them. At that point, she says, “I have a pair of aluminum crutches that my son Kenneth hardly used. I told her to hold on to them because I would be needing them soon. At that point I realized that I was going to have a car wreck and would need a pair of crutches. I was glad I was sitting down.
When I got home that evening, I filled out a card for AAA insurance, then went out onto the back porch to make sure the antique crutches were where I had last seen them last. The hardest part was not telling my mother what was going on or what I was up to or why I needed AAA insurance.
On the morning of March 31, my mother was going to Linden to check my dad out of the hospital because he had recovered from pneumonia. The overdrive on the Studebaker wasn’t working, so I told her I was going to the Studebaker dealership in Mt. Pleasant to get a solenoid. My mother told that since I was going to Mt. Pleasant to go by Montgomery Ward and take in an order she had filled out.
I spent almost the whole day without getting anything for lunch because for some reason I thought my mom and dad would stop by the Dairy Queen in Linden and get hamburgers and French fries. Even though my mother left at 9: AM, it was well after 3: PM before my dad was checked out of the hospital.
I volunteered to go to the Dairy Queen in Avenger. Why I didn’t go to the one in Hughes Springs, I have no idea.
I had no indication that something bad was about to happen when I pulled up to the 4 way and stopped until after I had pulled out and started my left turn, then God spoke into my mind and said, “You stopped.” “Make a note of that.” I said, “Why would I want to do that?” God said, “So that you will know that what is going to happen next won’t be your fault.”
“What is going to happen?” I said.
Then I heard it. The sound like a stock car on the other side of the track. A low roar. The oncoming car didn’t take more than a second to come into sight. “When is it going to slow down?” I asked myself.
For some reason, I attempted to read the mind of the person in the oncoming car. I shouldn’t have gotten anything, but I did. Most of what I got didn’t make any sense. What I perceived was that I was on the wrong side of the highway. I was driving on the right hand side, when I should have been driving on the left hand side. “No way” I said to myself in my mind. “That can’t be right. There is no way that dude can be from across the water!” I told God to remind me to see a psychiatrist in the morning.
“No skin off my nose.” I thought. “If he stays on his side of the highway and I stay on mine, I will never know where he comes from.
At that point, I heard the squalling of tires and knew I was mistaken because the oncoming car swerved left. For a few seconds, I was afraid the oncoming car would strike the median and come at my Studebaker in a multiple roll over such as you sometimes see on the racetrack, but the other car missed the median by what looked like inches and was headed at my side of the car which was still at an angle to the oncoming car.
“Well God.” “There is no way I am going to survive this, so ready or not here I come.” I thought and God said, “I’m not ready.” “Well you better do something quick.” I said in my mind.
God said; “Turn loose of the steering wheel and scoot over.” At the point that I scooted over, it was if time slowed down. In fact, I seriously considered opening the passenger door, climbing out and outrunning what was going to happen, but God said, “Are you sure you can run that fast?” I quickly changed my mind on that. I thought, “Maybe if I put my left foot on the gas, I might accelerate out of the way.” The next instant the other car hit and the Studebaker was turning round and round in the middle of the highway like a red and white top I had as a child.
God brought me back to consciousness with a vision of an infomercial for tires. He informed me that my left leg had been subjected to the same pressure as the tire in the infomercial and had failed. “That is something I really needed to know.” I told him in my mind.
The next vision he showed me was my head going through the broken side window, so I immediately put out my hand to prevent that from happening.
One second the door was there and the next, it wasn’t and I was going out with both my feet still in the car. The next vision was of me being pulled under my own car and being run over as if I was a rag doll. “Not while I still have breath.” I said in my mind.
I went as fast as I could on my hands across the pavement, otherwise there would have been more than skin off my nose.
The Studebaker made one last turn and I was thrown clear and landed on my backside, just before the car backed into the sign post. When the Studebaker can to a stop, it was headed in the opposite direction from what I would have gone.
When I came to again, I was sitting in the middle of the intersection with my left leg folded under[MP1] neath me and it really hurt because it was folded above the knee. “Someone please help me.” I yelled as loud as I could.
The next this I knew, the two guys from the other car were there. One put the back of the front seat under my head and the other pulled my left leg from underneath me. A woman was coming from the gas station across the street with a crocheted blanket, which she put over me.
I looked toward the intersection in time to see a State Troopers car pull up. Two men got out, one came to where I was lying and the other went to look at the Studebaker because I could only see the passenger side, I had no idea what condition the driver’s side was in.
The patrolman who looked at my car simply said, “It’s totaled.” Which was a gross understatement.
The patrolman who looked at my wrecked Studebaker didn’t look at me the same way when he returned. He wanted my billfold to get my driver’s license, but for some reason he was reluctant to touch me, so I had to roll onto my side and get out my billfold for him.
The two guys from the other car were being questioned by the officers and one of the officers asked me if I wanted to ask either of them any questions, so I asked the driver of the other car “Where were you going at such an incredible speed.” And he said, “I was going too fast to stop!” I thought, “That is the understatement of the Millennium.” When I realized he had made a direct evasion, I got scared, then I got very angry. So angry that I wanted to tie into him bare handed and on one leg, but the highway patrolman held me down.
I lay in the middle of the intersection for 45 minutes before transportation arrived. There was no siren. The local doctor, who also doubled as coroner, checked me out and pronounced me transportable.
I was halfway to Longview before I asked “Why don’t I hear a siren?” “Hearses don’t have them.” I was told.