Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Turning 16 and Getting a Car

After reading this account, I am sure that most parents will have second thoughts about allowing a 16-year-old to have a car. I am not proud of some of the things I have done or the close calls I have had, but I did learn a lot from those experiences. I only had a real car for less than a year before I left home leaving the car behind. I don't count that first junk car that I bought at the drive in theater and only drove twice while I was 15.

Shortly after my 16th birthday dad took me up the car dealer and helped me buy a good running used 1950 Plymouth 4 door. He even let me charge the gas until I ran the bill up too high. I recall that I even had to drive myself the county seat to get a license and I was nervous that they might ask me how I got there. Having a car meant that I now became more of a leader than a follower, very few students in school had cars. You can do a lot of things with a car and get into a lot of trouble also. I would stay out late at night, drive up town and find anyone who wanted to play poker, drive out to some lonely back road and play on the back of the seats under the dome light for hours at a time.

Some of my friends approached me about a prank they would like to play of some of the older students and because I owned a shotgun and a car, I became one of the main players in the plot. We started spreading the rumor about a woman whose husband worked the late shift and that she was entraining young men while he was at work. Out at the end of Leaper Lane in Providence, Kentucky where we lived, there was an old abandoned house. I would drive out just after dark and park around back, load up the shotgun and wait behind a tree. The others that were in on the prank would gather up some of the eager students in their car and bring them out. They would make us some excuse for parking on the road before getting to the house and have them walk the rest of the way. I would let them get almost to the front porch and then I would step out and put a couple of shotgun blasts up into the trees.

We only used one car and would never let the victim drive their own car. It would usually take us several hours to find all the victims and calm them down. Of course they were then ready to pull the prank on the next group. After a couple of weeks we ran out of new blood and called it quits. Fortunately no one was hurt except for their pride.

One Saturday I ran out of gas out on US 41 about 5 miles out of town. I walked home and borrowed the family Hudson, and picked up some gas. I now had a problem, I needed someone to drive my car back home so that I could return the family car. I drove up to the center of town, this consisted of one traffic light at the top of the hill in the center of Providence. There were a couple of pool halls down one street and the movie theater a half block up the street, a few stores and that was it. You could always find someone standing around in the center of town looking for something to do or someone to talk to. I found a student that was more a friend of my cousin than I and he was older so I knew that he must have a license. For some strange reason he seemed reluctant to help me out, but I insisted, so he jumped in. We drove out to the car and I put the gas in the tank, got it started and told him to just follow me back to the house. Every thing was going fine until we turned down this side street that had a ten-foot ditch on one side that sloped down to the water at about a 30-degree angle. I was watching him in my rear view mirror and could not believe my eyes. He was slowly getting closer and closer to the ditch and then just drove over the bank and slid down to the bottom side ways. He started to get out on the bottom side when I yelled that the car might turn over on him.

I then find out that he did not have a drivers license and not only that I later found out that he had a mental problem that caused him to turn the car in the opposite direction that he wanted to go when he got excited. He had even rolled a pickup truck on a curve one time due his problem. I am sure that there is a name for this but I do not know what it is. I have never forgot this and I am very cautious about being on the side of the road. I think that this is why so many workers and police get hit when working along side the road.

The police drove up to investigate what was going on, and I did not want to get my friend into trouble. I know that I talked my way out of it but I cannot remember now how I explained the fact that I was driving two cars at the same time. One thing that help me was that dad was well known in town and almost everyone at one time or another had worked for him in the coal mine or played football with him in school, he was the football star and school hero. I guess that is the good thing about growing up in a small town. Everyone knows who you are and a lot is over looked.

Late one evening someone suggested that we drive down to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and see what we could find. We drove down to one of the side gates which was closed. We parked on the side of the road and placed the jack under the car so it would look like we had a flat. Then we started out across a field toward the military post. There was a huge sign warning of prison and fines for trespassing, but that did not even slow us down. We found a parking lot full of tanks and climbed into one and played with the controls for a while. My friend had an open knife in his pocket, why I will never know. As he was climbing out of the tank, he put his hand in his pocket and cut it bad. We had blood all over everything, he finely got the bleeding stopped and we left the tanks to check out the barracks. We tried several doors and they all were locked. All of a sudden we heard sirens all over the base and MP cars raced by as we hid. We decided it was time to get out of there, so we headed back to the car. The next day we hear that a plane had crashed at Ft Campbell. Someone must have been watching over us that night or we could have been in a lot of trouble.

A mile out town just before the intersection of US 41 another friend lived who stayed in about as much trouble as I did. We had a fort built across the field behind his house. There was a dirt road that leads to the field and as it left the main road it had a dirt bank on each side close to the dirt road. I was spinning in the mud and had everyone jump out and push. Well the back doors on the Plymouth opened to the front of the car and one of the boys left the door open while they were pushing. I got some traction and took off, catching the open door in the bank and tearing it off. Now I had to drive around with a missing back door. And two odd color finders that I had replaced earlier from the junk yard. My car was beginning to look pretty sad.

The skating rink was on the second floor of one of the buildings near the center of town and it also doubled as the meeting place for the VFW. They had some rifles used for parades and for some strange reason, they stored the rifles in a hole in the wall of the mens rest room. I was told about the rifles and wasted no time, I drove my car around to the back exit and we quickly moved the rifles to the car and out to our fort. The rifles were wrapped in grease and wax paper and there were about five or six of them. I took one home and cleaned it up and my friend was working on the rest at the fort.

A few days later as I pulled up in his yard, the County Sheriff was parked in the yard. He open the trunk of his car and asked me if I knew anything about the rifles he had in there. I explained that I did and if he would follow me home I would give him the last one. Dad was home when we got there and they started talking, after a while I asked if it was all right if I went back up town and they said OK. Things were quite for a while and I was relieved, I did find out later that my friend had ordered ammunition for the rifles. I avoided him after that and later in the year he placed some dynamite in a sewer man hole and blew it up. He was up at the theater bragging about it and got into a lot of trouble. After that the police would stop me after school and question me about drugs and other things, I guess they thought that I knew what was going on around town. I had never heard about drugs and didn't know there were so many problems in our small town. Dad warned me that I had better save up my money for cigarettes for when I went to prison. So I cut back on my wild activities after that.

Winter came and driving became more fun, we would drive on the icy street and cut the wheels to see how many times we could spin around. I am amazed that I survived that winter.


Post a Comment