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Tuesday, 26 February 2008


By Darlene Costner of Darlene's Hodgepodge

My father vanished from my life when I was three years old and my grandfather replaced him as the man in my life. He was the most patient and mild-mannered man I ever knew. He was also the world's worst driver. If the traffic light were green, he would slow down in case it would turn red. If it were already red, he would speed up so he would be there to catch the green light.

I grew up at the foot of Pikes Peak and a Sunday drive in the mountains was the entertainment for the week. When Grandpa was at the wheel of the car, it was better than a ride on the roller coaster for sheer thrills.

Grandpa was always more intent on the scenery than on the road and his eyes would focus on something interesting across a canyon and, as he pointed it out to us, he would head the car in its direction. Naturally, this would be toward the side of the road where, if reached, would catapult us over the edge and into the hereafter. My alert grandmother always averted this disaster by yelling one word, JAY, in a terrified voice. (His name was James but was fondly called Jay by all who knew him.) That one word would bring his eyes and the car back in the right direction.

A creek ran through our property and Grandpa parked his car to the right of a bridge that crossed it. A big oak tree grew on the bank of the creek in front of Grandpa’s parking space. One day Grandpa came home in his Packard sedan and started to park in his usual space. Instead of hitting the brake pedal, Grandpa's foot stomped on the accelerator and the car shot forward into the tree.

As far as I know that was the only accident Grandpa ever had. This fact has led me to believe that Grandpa had two angels looking out for him - my grandmother and an unseen one hovering nervously over his shoulder.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Reminds me of one of my relatives, who used to drive the Colorado mountains in 3rd gear. Didn't work too well going uphill! Always good for a lot of laughing behind his back.

An obviously loving angel. Thank you.

I really enjoyed your story.

Thank God that was a long time ago and traffic was so much lighter and drivers much more courteous.

Can you imagine Grandpa taking the Packard down the Hollywood Freeway or the New Jersey Turnpike today?

Even the angels would jump out of the car!

You brought back a memory of a trip my family took to Pikes Peak. We took the old cog train up the mountain--which as children we found very exciting. But that was where the fun ended. After we got to the zoo at the top I threw up and a llama soaked my younger brother with spit!

My dad drove like that, too, and he scared me to death!

Thanks to all of you for your comments.

Peg, my grandfather (the very same Grandpa, was the first telegrapher on top of Pikes Peak. It's a good thing he didn't drive up.

I don't remember the zoo. I only remember having trouble breathing up there and having to go slow.

Ohhh yes ... this sounds like my father in his last few years. I was so nervous to let my children ride with him but he always brought them home safely.

Grandpa would have had my heart in my throat...but those Angels must have been working overtime. Wonderful story Darlene.

My grandpa loved his car. He lived in a small town and for along time the townspeople would simply clear the street when he was out driving. Finally he put the community at risk and the police took away his driver's license. He continued to drive, so they impounded his car. He went out and bought a new car and the town called my dad to step in. It was the saddest day when my grandparents had to move to the old folks home. I can still picture my grandpa, hat on his head, cigarette holder clinched in his teeth, both hands on the wheel in race car driver fashion, and the lure of the road in his eye.

Thank you Darlene for stirring this memory in my heart.

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