The fall of my 14th year, I was persuaded by Brian to expand my horizons. He came up to our new house one night. When we got outside, he revealed some astounding news to me that took a while to comprehend and believe. The memory of my astonishment is still fresh in my mind. The guy had guts!
He had taken his folk’s car out one night and cruised to a neighboring town about 20 miles away. This was a whole new concept for me but one that I thought sounded exciting. The only problem was the fact we were only 14 years of age and still 2 years away from getting a driver’s license. However, we had been driving on the farm for many years and felt we were better qualified to cruise the nation's highways than many of the people who had had licenses in their back pockets for decades.
The next six months were a contest to see who could outdo the other. One misadventure followed another. Danger and close calls kept us entertained and constantly switching between first and second place for bragging rights. We would sneak out of our houses at night and push our folk’s car down the road until we could start it without waking our parents up. I probably went on these midnight adventures 8 or 10 times with unusual happenings and excitement in every trip. From start to finish, the adrenalin flowed.
We would usually travel to Connell and look up girls. These brazen exercises accomplished two purposes. We thought that we were being pretty macho with all the excursions we were taking and wanted the girls to be aware of this fact. The other reason we knocked on their doors concerned the fact that we needed a witness to verify our adventures to friends who otherwise wouldn't believe our crazy-trip claims.
We had several other buddies who went with us from time to time. They could always count on an exciting eve if they dared climb in the various rigs we utilized. We guaranteed an exciting time would be had by all!
One night found a friend and I sneaking out of a Wednesday night church meeting called MIA (Mutual Improvement Association) and heading for town. This particular night Scot and I decided to hold our own MIA (Meatheads In Action). Not wanting to vary from our standard practice of driving as fast as the particular vehicle we were in would go, we took off. Our average driving speed was usually at least 100 miles an hour. This particular night found us in my folk’s blue Ford station wagon with the pedal to the metal.
After we had driven 12 or 14 miles, we approached a turnoff that led to Connell, our rendezvous, claim substantiation and turnaround point. However, I was lost in thought for some reason and wasn’t slowing down. I was probably thinking about the girl we were going to see that night and how impressed she was going to be when she saw us pull up in her yard in a station wagon with me at the wheel.
In the middle of my reverie, Scot yelled: “Aren’t you going to turn?!!” (A few years later, he would be yelling similar words to me in an even more dangerous predicament.) I snapped out of my girl-crazy trance, hit the brakes and turned the wheel. The car started sliding sideways. I am still in awe some 40 years later that the poor Ford wagon didn’t roll. There must have been some loose gravel at that intersection allowing the tires to slide a bit or a couple of angels pushing down on the side of the car that was trying to roll over.
We slid hundreds of feet with the driver’s door in the lead, finally skidding to a stop. I looked out my side window and the stop sign post was looking huge, looming approximately three inches from the car door and five inches from my nose. A bit more momentum and the car would have had a smashed driver's door, an instant red flag to dear old dad. It's too bad we didn't impact the stop sign. It might have stopped us from further escapades. Then again, probably not.
We continued to town and visited a girl from our class named Robin.
After a few minutes of our flesh and blood appearance to the cute little girl at the door, we drove back to MIA. We arrived before it was over and just waited in the bathroom until the classes dismissed. Then we went out and rode home in the blue Ford station wagon.
It was all warmed up.
I asked mom if I could drive home. She said I was too young.