My car story is from long ago, but burned into my memory.
My sister had a long-time friend who had moved overseas for a short time with her family, then returned to the States. She did not come back to our area, but stayed at her grandmother’s farm several states away. One day my sister decided rather suddenly to take her friend up on the offer to “visit her any time” and through a botched job of communication, we ended up there with a couple of young men; one, in tow with my sister and the other was the boyfriend of the friend, who happened to live near my house. He was a couple of years younger than she was, but she was still very much a “sweet young thing”.
The grandmother played hostess and did the best she could. It was without question that we young ladies were to stay in the friend’s room, the two fellows in the only guest room. Unfortunately, the young men had not met each other before and the idea of sharing a double bed was not something they were looking forward to. They stayed up most of the night talking and where or if they ended up sleeping, I don’t know, but we all needed to head back home the next evening. It was decided that I should ride with Roger-the-boyfriend, as he was tired and alone, and my sister and the other friend wanted to talk.(They were not a couple; he was trying to warn her off of her then-boyfriend, and he was right!) I had no problem with that. I had known the nice young man as he had gone to school with my brother and he had no interest in my 14-year-old self. (I was late bloomer, not a Lolita). Roger seemed relieved to have company.
I may have failed to mention that we were in the hills of Pennsylvania and soon a thick fog rolled in, making visibility impossible. All I could see was where the headlights managed to penetrate the whiteness at the very front of the car, just enough to see the white line at the outside edge of the road. Roger had a heavy foot on the gas pedal; we needed to get back and we had left late. How he saw enough to keep us on the curvy, deeply descending roads, I will never know. My sister and friend followed our every move. If we had gone over the edge, they would have as well.
I may also have failed to mention that upon entering the car, (which would now be a classic, back then, it was just old), I did not think the passenger door had shut. Roger assured me that although it didn’t sound like it shut, it was. According to him, ‘it did that’. I wasn’t so sure and when we slowed down, (which wasn’t often), I’d chanced opening and slamming the door to shut it tightly. Every time, it sounded less and less like it was catching. As I had been sitting against the door in the beginning, I schooched closer and closer to Roger, and tossed my purse, then jacket and snacks in the back seat to get farther and farther from the untrustworthy door. The fog continued for over a hundred miles. I was near panic.
My sister had been trying to watch through the fog from the car close behind. When we stopped for gas, I explained. She had wondered what was going on, with her kid sister cozying up to her friend’s [really cute] boyfriend.
Finally, we got out of the mountains and the fog. After another stretch of road Roger said that he was tired…no, he was sleepy…so sleepy that his eyes were watering. I got the giggles, he got the giggles. I blew a whistle I had with me, I hit on him… (no, literally, when he refused to pull over, I whopped him over the head with a notebook.) Somehow, we made it home in one piece; I was worried about him making it the couple more miles to his place, but he said I had pretty much gotten him awake by then.
A few months later Roger came to my house with a mutual friend of my brother’s. He said, “Hey, you know my car passenger door? Maybe you were right…It’s flown open a couple of times.”
To this day I can’t hear the name ‘Studebaker’ and not feel a jolt.
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