Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Accidents with Dad. Part 1

More stories with Dad.
Today: his first automobile accident . . .

See?
It seemed like a good idea.
Movie night in town.
A bit romantic.
A bit relaxing.
And a much-needed break from two tiny children.
Mom and Dad piled into the car and headed out.
Unbeknownst (Ooo! Good word!) to them their neighbour to the west also thought it was a good night for a break. The difference was that she and her friends decided to take their break at the local bar.
And they had begun a bit earlier. In fact, they were taking last call, just as my parents were starting out.
Their two worlds collided, quite literally at the town bridge.
Oh, and you should probably know: DUI hadn't been invented yet.
Milk River, the town, nestles closely to Milk River, the river. On February 28, 1952, there was only one bridge spanning the foaming torrent - okay, the frozen-over, snow-covered mass of ice.
This bridge was sturdy - iron bolted to iron bolted to concrete – and built to withstand all sorts of abuse.
Good thing, too.
There was only one problem. It was a narrow bridge. One car at a time, thank you very much.
Mom and Dad were approaching from the south.
Carlights ahead told them that someone else was approaching from the north.
No problem. Dad slowed his vehicle.
The car opposite did the same.
As Dad was much closer, he took that as a sign that he should continue.
He drove onto the bridge.
Then realized that the car coming toward them, was still coming toward them.
The two of them met at the far side.
And not in a good way.
The driver of the other car, in a warm, invincible glow derived from her time spent with friends at the local bar, decided that, though it had never happened before or since, two cars would fit nicely on the bridge.
She was wrong.
Her car hit the bridge support hard enough to shake up her passengers.
And knock out her own front teeth.
The car then spun around and neatly caved in the side of Mom and Dad’s car.
Dad quickly determined that Mom was uninjured, then jumped out and ran over to the other vehicle.
The driver’s face was swollen and bleeding from her forcible connection with the steering wheel and Dad didn’t even recognize his neighbour. Now panicked, he ran to the theatre a quarter of a mile away to use their phone, quickly calling the police.
Then he ran back.
I should mention, here, that the road across that bridge is a major Canadian route. Part of the Alaska Highway. On a quiet evening in 1952, the fact that it was completely blocked didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
In fact, no one noticed.
Okay, major route is only a subjective term.
Back to my story . . .
Mom and Dad did what they could for the passengers of the other car.
The police arrived and alternately helped and pried.
Finally clearing the road for any possible future travellers.
The passengers received medical care.
And everyone limped home, surprisingly (except for the missing teeth) uninjured.
Mom and Dad missed their movie.
But that was okay.
They were unscathed.
And reality is far more exciting.

14 comments:

  1. From what I recall from Dad's recollections, the car that hit the bridge left its right front wheel stuck against the support as if they'd measured it and set it in place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeowch! Talk about getting a girder shoved up your bumper.

      Delete
  2. So glad no one was drastically injured..although...I am now feeling my teeth and shivering for that poor girl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, me too! Teeth. Mine ache just thinking about it!

      Delete
  3. This kind of family history is invaluable for next generations...a window into their world.

    ReplyDelete
  4. And here I thought 4-way stops were tricky!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this was the creation of the one-way . . .

      Delete
  5. She drive over the bridge how many times before (sober at least some of them, we assume) and STILL thought two cars would fit?

    A perfect example of impaired thinking/driving!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I KNOW it never worked before, but I can't remember why!

      Delete
  6. I'm so glad no one was hurt. Bridges are tricky even sober and in daylight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always approach with caution. And cold sober!

      Delete
  7. I think you should post this on some site that reaches young drivers and older seniors. It's a good reminder, and a good story, Diane.

    ReplyDelete

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