A phone call. It was a schoolmate. “Hey, I’ve got my Dad’s car tonight. Want to go for a ride?” (The car was a 1957 Chevy Bel Air with a powerful V8 engine. It was new).
We were both 15. No driving license. His dad was unaware of my friend’s plan. “Ok. I”ll tell my mom I’m going over to your house. Where do you want to pick me up?” In a few moments, we were headed out of town on the two lane country road that all teens took for fast driving and smooching. Tonight would be fast driving.
As you leave the city limits and take a few curves, the road lays out long, smooth and arrow straight. “Want to see how fast she will go?” he said.
“Yes!” I looked at the speedometer which read 50. It pegged out at 120! We were not wearing seat belts. They were a nuisance.
He shoved his foot to the floor. That Chevy V8 lept into action, roaring down the highway faster and faster. The speedometer swept past the numbers, as we were sucked back into the front seat: 60, 70, 80, 90. We were giggling, shrieking, cursing. Two teenage boys, being naughty and brave in a rocket to the stars. We reached 120 miles per hour!
Ralph took his foot off the accelerator and we coasted down to normal speed. He pulled over and parked. “Wow!” he said.
“I know. I’ve dreamed of something like this. That was the best, man.”
It was a black night with no highway lights. Neither of us were frightened.
“Want to do it again?” he said.
No cars on the highway. Ralph pulled onto the road, headed back to town. Once again, he slammed his foot to the floor. The Chevy responded with a roar, hurtling us like a rocket back down the road. And there it was, 120 on the speedometer! We looked at each other in disbelief and excitement. It was then I saw it. A second passed before I yelled, “Curve!”
Back then, power brakes and steering were new and very sensitive. Plus, Ralph was not a skilled driver…at all. The last thing I remember was him hitting the brake pedal sending me into the metal cowling around the windshield. I was knocked out.
Just like in a movie, the next thing I remember is waking in the hospital bed the following morning as the nurse appeared.
“You are one lucky young man,” she said.
“What happened? I just remember hitting the windshield cowling.”
“The car spun out of control and then flipped over and over, coming to rest on the side of the road, throwing you out onto the highway in the process. You should have been killed my friend. A car full of boys came around that curve shortly after the wreck and they said you were sitting on the highway in the middle of car parts and pieces. They said you were conscious and talked with them but what you said made little sense. Three of the boys stayed with you while the other drove to the nearest place to call the ambulance.”
I laid in my bed, thinking of what happened. Considering my good fortune. And then it hit me; There must be someone who decides if you live or die; someone in charge of such things because I should be either dead or crippled for life. There must be a God!