Daddy, why did you do that? (Christmas Day~1965)


 Jimmy was about five years old on a cold Christmas day as we headed for Shelbyville, Tennessee to visit his grandmother. Our new Volkswagen was packed with Christmas presents. It had snowed on Christmas eve, but the highway was clear, at least it appeared to be as we rounded the curve on Whiteside hill. A long stretch of the highway lay in the shadow of Whiteside hill and I knew as soon as I hit the shadow that I was on a thick sheet of ice that had not melted. Suddenly, the steering wheel was useless and I was completely out of control with oncoming, highspeed traffic that was in the same state as I. I felt some relief when we slid sideways off the highway out of the path of oncoming traffic into soft turf. I don't know how many times we rolled before coming to a stop, upside down.

I looked around to see Linda, frightened but unhurt still buckled upside down. Likewise I looked at Jimmy, who was also hanging upside down, apparently unscathed. As I looked at him, he said, without hesitation, "Daddy, why did you do that?"

Realizing that everyone was unharmed I felt a great measure of euphoria, and I began to laugh, uncontrollably. The next mistake I made was forgetting about gravity as I unbuckled and crashed to the car roof. I managed to get Linda and Jimmy out with less problem.

 By this time a highway patrolman had stopped to investigate. As he walked up to the car, I shouted to him, "And for my next trick...." He didn't seem to think that was as funny as I did.

 As we stood there, other cars were sliding off the road, and we realized that we were not in a very safe location. I told him that we were all okay and that he should put up some flares to warn the oncoming traffic. He agreed and left, warning us to move further from the road, lest we find ourselves in the path of another out of control car.

 With Jimmy and Linda at a safe distance, I gave the Volkswagen a shove and it rolled back over on its wheels. We hopped in, started the engine and took off. We were all happy to be alive and we arrived at Grandmothers all singing Jingle Bells.




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