Most of us, at one time or another, have been pests to our parents, asking if we could go with them every time they left the house. I was no exception to that, as just about every time my father went out the door, or even told my mother he was planning on it, I asked if I could go. It was more like, “Can I go too?” I also recall there were more than one of those occasions that I regretted having spoken the question.
One of such times was when I asked if I could go with my father and Uncle Dave to the top of Saltash Mountain, to listen to a radio broadcast of the Red Sox baseball game. The reception was better there. I have no idea who the Sox were playing, but I do remember nearly suffocating from cigarette smoke while my dad and uncle cheered on their favorite players. They were so enthusiastic that sometimes the car shook while they were waving the runner from third to home in the front seat of the ‘53 Oldsmobile. I remember asking them to open a window for air, and my father returned with the question, “What do you want me to do, let all the mosquitoes from the woods into the car?” I just gave up and tried to get fresh air closer to the floor near the back of the seat.
The trip home was a welcomed ride, because the windows were cracked open and I could finally breathe. I made a sort of note to self when I finally got home: never ask to go along on another baseball radio excursion to the top of the mountain.
One day that is still burned into my memory was when I was about 5 years old. I had asked Dad if I could go to the store with him, which was only about 2 ½ miles away in Cavendish. I sat in the front seat, (pre seatbelt days), and could barely see over the dash. Dad told me to sit tight and he’d be right back as he went in the house to get his pack of cigarettes off the kitchen table.
As I was sitting there, a green 50’s mercury went up the dirt road past the driveway at a high rate of speed and became airborne at the brow of the knoll above our house. My father came flying off the porch and basically did a professional race car driver entry into the front seat. He uttered, “Hang on Ricky,” and hammered the gas pedal. He went up the road with dirt flying off the rear tires. He briefly put his hand across my chest and said “Everything will be ok.” I must have looked nervous, and remember feeling like I was in a movie chase and had huge butterflies in my stomach and chest. The other car came into sight about a half mile up the road, near an abandoned brick house we used call “Crazy Lil’s” place. There was a beaver pond right across the road there, and Dad laid on the horn, screaming out the window for the driver of the green mercury to pull over. He proceeded to run the guy off the road and pull up next to his door. By now I was shaking and wondering what was about to happen. At 5′ 11″, 200 plus pounds, my father was a force to be reckoned with. The old man bailed out of our car, grabbed the driver of the mercury by the shirt and shoulders, and dragged him out of the driver’s door window. He pulled him up and slammed him face first on the hood of the car. He grabbed his hair and pulled his head back banging his face on the hood again and said “If you ever drive like that and run over one of my kids, you’ll never make it to court.”
Dad left him face down on the hood of his car and got back in the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 and kind of mussed up my hair. He smiled at me and said, “Don’t be nervous Ricky. What do you say we go get some ice cream my boy?” When we got home I never mentioned a thing about the trip’s events to my Mother. Dad just told her that he doubted Earle would be going by the house again for a while, and I seriously don’t remember ever seeing him on our road again.
For some reason I never learned a lesson, and kept asking my father to let me go with him every time I could.
Dad’s ’53 Chevy..with personalized fender skirt…
First Photo: Dad posing for the camera on request.
(c) Rick Wyman