Bill’s wife, Annie, said that her father learned to drive sort of late in life. She remembers going to town by horse and wagon, when she was little. He always kept horses to work the farm, but sometime after World War II, he bought a car and had a worthless brother that lived with him chauffeur him and the family around. Finally, after failing the test a couple times, he got his license, but he still had a tendency to pull back on the steering wheel and holler “whoa” when he wanted to stop.
Once he had his license, he insisted on taking his wife and seven kids on a two week vacation every summer. Annie said that crossing mountains with him was more exciting than any carnival ride yet invented. Her most memorable experience with his driving, though, happened on the way to church one Sunday.
The family lived on a high hill a couple miles from the north side of town, while their church was on the far edge of the south side of town. Their long journey began by driving down a gravel road in the hollow behind their house and turning right on the brick county road toward town. Just before getting to town, there was a golf course on the left preceded by a two-story white farm house. A gravel road turned left just before reaching the house, and between the house and the gravel road was a patch of huge, healthy-looking tomato plants.
Annie’s dad meant to make the turn a little slower, but he’d gotten no response back on the pavement when he’d pulled back on the steering wheel. By the time he remembered to hit the brakes, he was already slipping sideways a bit on the gravel road. The brakes just made it worse. When he got stopped, the car was sitting in the edge of the tomato patch, and four hills lay flattened beneath the car. The old couple that lived there had been sitting on their porch watching the whole episode.
Normally as honest as the day was long, Annie’s dad was so embarrassed that all he managed to do was yell “sorry,” back the car onto the road, and continue on his way. The rest of the family was laughing their heads off. © 2013-