Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
When one car hits another, there’s a distinct sound emitted unlike anything else. The car literally screams in a high-pitched wail, as if the vehicle is protesting its end with one last gasp of life. Once you’ve heard this sound, you never forget it.
Unfortunately, cars hitting cars or cars hitting other things was a sound I became too familiar with when I was younger.
Today’s final act in my retelling of pre-driver’s license history is a scoreboard of dead, dying, and wounded cars. Luckily, there’s no equivalent tale of tragedy among the humans involved, though how this isn’t so is a marvel. The fates have decreed that I be here today to tell you my tales, so pay attention — test at 3.
Cars 1-3 – You’ve heard about the first three cars in the scoreboard through my recounted exploits of my precocious brother’s early driving attempts. The score here is one damaged Ford (Mother’s), one damaged Washington State Patrol car (Father’s), and one totaled Patrol Car (Father’s again). Injuries to self and brother — minor bruises.
Car 4 – I was 13 when my Mother, tired from a very long drive, ran a red light in Spokane, Washington. Another vehicle, full of folks who had been out partying, hit us broadside, point of contact being the passenger door where I was sitting. I remember waking up to see two headlights approaching the door — too damn quickly. Then that sound.
The other “car” was a fullsize truck going an estimated 50 MPH. The force of the impact spun our car around a full 180 degrees and put it up on the sidewalk across the street. What saved us is that our car was a 1963 Chevrolet station wagon — probably the sturdiest thing that over rolled over the earth after a Humvee. Injuries to car — totaled; injuries to self — cracked ribs, bruised kidney, nightmares of headlights for the longest time.
Car 5 – I was hitchhiking around the country when I was 15 and got a ride from Reno to Sacramento from two old women driving a big white van. The month was February I think, and the ladies — a woman and her mother I later found out — wanted to beat a blizzard across the mountain. Well, best laid plains and all that.
During the worst of the storm, we couldn’t see the road. I mean, we literally couldn’t see the road. The daughter turned to us and calmly told us that we had our pick — we could drive the car into the ditch or we could take our chances and possibly end up driving off the side of the mountain in the blizzard. Vote was unanimous.
As we sat in the ditch, with the snow howling around us, wondering if anyone was going to find the car before we froze to death, I got to know the ladies. They had been traveling around the country, taking in the sights. The mother had an artificial leg, which she took it off, showing me how it worked. (I was curious and asked. She was a nice lady, and answered.) Luckily before it got too cold, we were found by a tow truck. Score — one wounded car; injuries to self, none.
Car 6 – When I was 17, I and my first husband, Steve, were in a 1949 DeSoto being driven his brother. His brother’s wife and baby were in the front seat, I and Steve were in the back. Steve’s brother was the worst damn driver in the world. Driving back from Olympia, Washington to Seattle, Steve’s brother tried to take a corner too fast and spun out, rolling the DeSoto. We rolled three times before coming to rest against a particularly sturdy roadside sign. The force of the roll literally picked by sister in law and the baby up and put them into the back seat with us.
Again — sturdy car save our butts. But that beautiful thing was smashed, murdered far too young (I liked that DeSoto). Score: 1 dead car; injuries to humans consisted of a lot of bruises except for the baby who didn’t have a scratch or a bruise.
Car 7 – Are you getting tired, yet? Well car 7 was my Mother’s 1967 Chevy Malibu. At 18, she was giving me driving lessons. You know, you should never learn to drive with a family member — it just doesn’t work out. My Mother was not a brave woman in the car. Scratch that, my Mother’s the most paranoid driver you’ve seen in your life. And she’s giving me driving lessons?
I’ll skip the gory details and cut to the chase — I drove the Malibu through a fence into a cow pasture. Moo. Moo. Score: 1 injured car. Injuries to self and mother, none. Injuries to cows, none.
Car 8 — There is an end to this list, honest. Car 8 was I and my first husbands Ford Falcon. Our wedding present from my in-laws. One bright sunny day, we were driving through Seattle and pulled into the left turn lane to turn when we were hit, quite hard, from behind. It seems the other driver couldn’t see us because the sun was in his eyes (he says). Poor little Falcon bit the dust on that one. Score: 1 dead car; injuries to self — severe whiplash, neck brace for a time.
Car 9 — You heard about this one — the Corvair van of my boyfriend’s that I damaged when I sideswiped a truck with the Van’s mirror. Nothing much to this one, except the Van was a classic in mint condition. Score: 1 injured car; injuries to self, one almost terminated relationship.
Final Scoreboard: Nine cars damaged, four totaled, 1 human (me) still here, still kicking, and now with a brand new driver’s license (well 6 months old) of my own.
And a new car, which I’m picking up today. And if you’re in the Northern California area and see a gold 2002 Ford Focus ZTS, with Marvin the Martian on the dashboard and a woman with glasses behind the wheel, you might want to give the driver a wee bit of room.
After all, nine cars when I didn’t have a driver’s license — imagine what I can do when I have one?