NEVER USE THE WORD "CAN'T!"

My brother Tom and I were walking past the Post Office on Saturday morning.  It was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining in a cloudless sky. In front of the Post Office was Dad's green 1940 ford.  Tom said, "Wonder why he parked his car here."  We walked over to it.  The car was unlocked and the key was in the ignition. 

Tom said, "Let's take the car for a ride."  He was 17 and had a driver's license.  I was only 15.  "Maybe you should find him and get permission to take the car for a drive."  I cautioned him.

Tom quickly replied, "Dad won't care.  Let's go up to the Camp and see what Wayne Bush is doing."  Tom got in the driver's side and I walked around and got in the front seat beside him. 

Tom turned the key on and hit the starter.  The Ford kicked over immediately as if ready for us to take a ride.  Tom shifted into low and pulled away from the Post Office.  He steered the Ford straight toward the steep down hill grade and we accelerated through the next two gears until we were flying by the time we leveled off at the bottom.  Tom sped around the wide curve toward the concrete bridge just before the Munn house.  We must have been making 45 miles per hour.

Tom said, "Oh. Oh.  A road grader is right in the middle of the bridge.  We'll have to stop."  Tom took his foot off the gas pedal and pushed the brake pedal to the floor.  The car did not slow down.  Tom frantically stomped the brake pedal but the car seemed to be accelerating.  We were rapidly closing on the road grader which was in an apparent creep across the 200 feet of bridge. 

Tom began shouting, "No brakes!  It won't stop!  We can't miss the grader!  He's taking up the whole bridge!"  The bridge was suddenly seconds away.  The car was going to hit between the two front wheels at the center of the road grader's wide blade.  Tom dove under the dash as he shouted, "Get Down!"

I could not believe this was happening to me.  We are going to die in a horrible accident! 

At the last possible second I grabbed the steering wheel and jerked it to the right and we barely missed the grader and maybe just squeaked the concrete on the right side.  As we flashed past the road grader, I saw the operator had turned his head to the right and placed his arms across his face.  Suddenly we were on the open road with no danger.  Tom raised up from under the dashboard, took the steering wheel from me and said, "How did you miss that grader?"

I didn't talk for a few minutes.  Finally, I said, "That must have been why the car was parked where it was.  No brakes!  Dad was going to get it fixed."  We started up the incline towards the Camp road.  Tom let it slow until he could do a U-turn.  He drove in low gear back to Munn's house and parked in his driveway.

We talked to Mr. Munn about the brake problem.  He suggested we drive in low gear all the way back to the Post Office and park the car just as it was earlier.  That sounded good to me.  We were not about to tell Dad that we almost destroyed his car and could have killed his joyriding sons.

The road grader operator stopped at the restaurant and grocery across from the Post Office.  He told the restaurant owner that a car must have flown over the top of him.  He said the car was speeding head on straight for him when he shut his eyes and covered his face from the glass that would be flying while he held his brakes full on.  He heard the car swoosh by but he felt it must have flown over him because there was definitely no room on either side of his grader.

My brother Tom reminded me many times over the next 50 years of how I had pulled a miracle on that Saturday morning joyride.

The hand of God was at work on that less graveled bridge.  No doubt about it!

 Donald Cathcart