Noilly Prattle: Looking Back: 12 – almost like one of the family

Friday, December 14, 2012

Looking Back: 12 – almost like one of the family

     I returned to Kendall, sometimes with shipmates, sometimes just me, many times in the ensuing months. The T.s were like a second family. I stayed overnight on weekends on several occasions. Carole and I took a liking to each other and it might have turned more serious under different circumstances, but she was in college and I was still in the Navy, stationed in Key West, only coming around from time to time. Sexual mores in those days were not as casual as they became as a result of the social revolutions of the 60s and 70s. My future prospects and whereabouts were not conducive to establishing a stable relationship. We were less than lovers and more than friends although we came close to the former one night on the beach. But that was special and will remain so.

Mary jumping the hurdles
      The T.s had a large property, around two acres as I mentioned earlier, and they kept a horse. Much of the backyard was a corral and, of course, contained a stable for the horse. Mary, the youngest, was an avid rider and jumper. She won several prizes jumping hurdles in equestrian competitions. 

Hallandale Beach
      Unfortunately, the perhaps inevitable serpent turned up in paradise. On one of my weekend trips up to Miami, this time with a couple of ship buddies, we took the three younger T children to Hallandale Beach, some 25 miles up the coast from downtown Miami, in my old '55 Ford. After a fun-filled day at the beach we were heading back to Kendall on the Homestead Extension of the Florida Turnpike. There were six people in the car: I was driving, Nancy, the second girl, was in the middle of the front seat and a buddy was next to the passenger door. Ricky and Mary, the two youngest kids and another buddy were in the back seat. 

      I was driving along in the outside lane heading south on the turnpike doing around 50 or 60 mph, within the speed limit. I noticed another car ahead on the left stopped on a road that crossed the 4-lane highway apparently waiting to get onto the highway. Suddenly, this car moved into my lane and stopped halfway onto the highway—directly in my path. I reacted immediately, hit the brakes hard and swerved to the right to avoid a head on collision into the other car's passenger side door (I could see a small child in the passenger seat), but it was too late to avoid hitting the other car altogether. My left front fender slammed into her right front fender avoiding a head on but still making a significant impact. Somehow, the driver of the other car hit the accelerator and sent her car plunging into a ditch on the other side of the highway. My old Ford was dead in the water, leaking radiator fluid onto the road. 

      In the car it was chaos. I had managed to throw my hands in front of my face before I slammed into the steering wheel and only bruised my forehead. The people in the back seat were scattered and jumbled about but didn't appear to be hurt. The guy in the passenger seat also managed to throw his hands up and avoided serious injury. Nancy, however, hadn't seen it coming fast enough to react and banged her head hard on the rearview mirror and was knocked unconscious.

To be continued...

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