Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Friday The Thirteenth
This past Friday was on the thirteenth day of the month. The dreaded Friday the Thirteenth. It is considered by many to be an unlucky day full of bad things both large and small that are just waiting to happen to any of us who let our guards down for even a moment.
I am not a superstitious person. At the same time I do wish on the first star of the evening or a shooting star. I wish on the rolling raindrop before it joins another. I cross my fingers for good luck and I have even been known to knock on wood. But I know that I make my own destiny for the most part.
On the other hand my mother seemed to have terrible luck. It happened mostly with cars or more specifically driving cars. We learned at a very young age that getting lost is an adventure.
Mom used to say that she had no sense of direction. She would be driving on a perfectly straight stretch of road and it would just pick itself up and be going another direction. So she would keep driving until she found something familiar. She would get her bearings and we would eventually reach our destination. Unless the road changed directions on her again.
Mom had been hearing a funny noise in her car. She told Daddy that it was a chirping noise. Finally on a day she was going to the grocery store he told her to honk when she got home. He would go to the door so she could pull the car back and forth and he could hear the noise. Then he would know what he needed to repair.
She came back from the store and honked. Daddy went to the door. Mom pulled her car back and forth. Daddy abruptly turned, closed the door, and came inside. He looked at me and said, "I can't stand watching your mother try to park the car!" He went into the closet and shut the door!
Mom's crowning glory as a driver came on Friday the Thirteenth. It was a warm spring day. My aunt and a couple of uncles attended a one room country school that was just down the road from my grandparents' farm. The school year was over and they were having their end-of-the-year picnic.
As it is in most small communities everyone was welcome to participate. The more the merrier.
There would be games like sack races and egg rolls. There would be lots of food. Everyone who came would bring a dish. It was a fun event.
Mom was running late as usual. She had four children to get ready. By the time she had the last one ready to go the first one would need a face and hands cleaning. Finally we were all in the car and very late.
Mom was driving faster than she should have. As she topped a hill she saw the police set up with radar at the bottom. What did she do? She stopped. Right there in the middle of the highway she stopped.
Of course the police noticed. Mom composed herself and drove down the hill. The police pulled her over. They knew who we were because they recognized the car. My father often drove it in his duties as town marshall.
The officer told Mom that she could have gradually slowed the car and they might not have noticed. He gave her a warning and sent us on our way.
The car needed gas and there was a gas station on the highway about halfway to our destination. Mom pulled into the station. This was happening in the 1950's. The gas pumps were big bulky things. Many had a huge glass globe on top with the company loge painted on.
Mom was a little too far away from the pump so she pulled forward a bit and backed up closer... a little too close. She bumped the pump.
She watched in horror as the glass globe began to wobble. Back and forth, back and forth, faster, faster, faster then it started to settle. As Mom started to breathe a sigh of relief it fell off and broke. The attendant assured her that it was not necessary for her to pay for it. We were off again.
We turned off the highway to a gravel covered road. We were getting closer. Still running late Mom was still driving a little faster than she should have. She drove right past the corner where we should turn to take us to the school.
She stopped and backed up to make the turn. Somehow we were suddenly in the ditch.
The ditches were deep, really deep. The back end of the car was at the bottom of the ditch and the front end was near the top of the ditch. Remember this was when all cars were made like tanks. It was a big old Buick.
Now what? We could not drive out. Even if the ditch was not so deep there was no way the car would just drive out.
As luck would have it a farmer from the area came by on his tractor. When he stopped trying to figure out how we got in the ditch that way and stopped chuckling he offered to pull us out.
He hooked us up to the tractor and with him and his tractor pulling and Mom driving the car they managed to get us out of the ditch. The car was not damaged so we went our separate ways.
We arrived at the school in time for some of the games. There was a contest to see who could kick their shoe the farthest. There were three-legged races. And all that scrumptious food. Great fun.
After that we did not allow Mom to drive on Friday the Thirteenth. If possible we kept her out of the cars. And it is a great family legend.