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Posts Tagged ‘Anna Deavere Smith’

It’s so quiet. Mr. Stripeypants is down by the reflective heater, listening to me type. When I think of my birth, I think of a young girl, my mother Amelia, only 16 years old. I think of Augusta, Georgia in the 1950’s, Broad Street, one of the widest streets in the world, window shopping, my grandfather hanging out at the White Elephant bar. My mother tells me I had a thick head of black hair and the photographs bear that out. One in particular has me sitting in my grandfather’s lap. He is smiling, I am smiling, in a frilly dress and patent leather shoes.

I once thought I was born out of wedlock but that was another erroneous belief. It wasn’t until a few years ago when Mom and I were talking about her relationship with my father (whom I haven’t seen since I was about 6 years old) that she told me she married my father first — it wasn’t until later that I was conceived and born. I had thought until that time that she married him because she was pregnant. Nope. That’s how I began to learn how important it is to ask all the questions you have for your parents while they are still alive. Their memories may be fading, but at least you will have their version of what happened right from the horse’s mouth.

I was born not long after my Uncle Jack drowned in Clarks Hill Lake. He was only 18. Another assumption I made was that people were sad when I was born, still mourning the death of my uncle. Mom was quick to correct me, told me how joy-filled everyone was when I came into the world. What was it like for a 16-year-old in the 1950’s to birth a child? My father wasn’t a good provider. So my mother left him when I was two and went to work to put food on the table for us. Once she started showing, they made her quit high school, something that would be unthinkable today. They also made her quit her job in the Boy Scout admin office because they thought it would not be a good example for the boys to see a married woman that was pregnant.

It does make me realize how far we have come as women since the 1950’s. I recently heard a woman speak who was a stewardess on Northwest Orient in the 1950’s. She’s written a book and they were interviewing her on MPR. She said they had strict height and weight restrictions on stewardesses and you had to periodically “weigh in.” She also said you had to wear your hair a certain way, could not have dentures or partials, or wear glasses or contacts. Can you imagine the uproar today if those kinds of restrictions were put on American women?

But back to my birth. My earliest memories are not until I am about 6 years old. But once I went under hypnosis and remembered my birth father throwing me up in his arms and catching me, a loving gesture. I was an infant, all smiles. When I think of my birth, I think of my grandmother, too. And wish I could ask her what it was like for her when I was born. My mother tells me that nursing was painful. It makes me want to ask other women if nursing is painful for them. I never hear anyone talk about it. Much like I never hear people talk about miscarriages.

There are so many opportunities for women to be shamed. Are they good mothers, do they nurse, have they miscarried — many things which are out of their control. Did they have a natural birth or was labor induced. All of this falls on women, women who become mothers. A few years ago, my mother and I tried to find her step-sister’s grave. She died shortly after birth and my grandmother had scraped together the money for a marker. It was a rainy Georgia afternoon when Mom and I wandered through the Babyland area of the cemetery and finally stumbled upon her overgrown marker. There was an angel engraved into the stone.

Mom pushed the grass away with her foot, umbrella in her other hand, and I snapped a photograph. It was one of my first ventures back to Georgia to dig up the family history, interview my mother and other family members. The journey has led to many emotional ups and downs, most good. I felt happy that we had found the baby’s grave. And wondered about the circumstances of her birth. My grandmother is no longer here to tell me. She was unlucky in love in her early life. But the last man she married, Raymond, was a sweetheart. I felt so happy she finally found a man who would be sweet to her, someone she deserved.

You know what’s odd? I more remember the circumstances of each of my sibling’s births than I do my own. I was 4 years old when my brother came home from the hospital in Tennessee. I was 14 when my youngest sibling was born. We remember more than we think we do. If the right question is asked, a jumble of strange seemingly unlinked thoughts and emotions pour through the mind and heart. And that only leaves you to wonder more — what will be the circumstances of my death?




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the third of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey), PRACTICE: Do You Know The Circumstances Of Your Birth? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE: Do You Know The Circumstances Of Your Birth? — 15min (by ybonesy), and two Guest practices False Accusation, Almost Dying.

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Here’s what I know. Mom and Dad were living on Neat Lane in Albuquerque’s south valley. There were four kids at home, three girls and a boy. Larry had been the youngest, he was four, and Mom and Dad were hoping for a boy to play with him. That’s one of the details of my birth that I grew up knowing.

I also grew up knowing that I was named after my mom’s mom and that Dad hadn’t wanted to name me that but they’d run out of names. They’d named the oldest daughter Patricia, after mom’s brother Pat. The next one Roberta, after Mom’s other brother, Robert. Janet must have gotten a name that came with no obligations; just a name that Mom and Dad liked. Larry, or Lawrence—his must have been a name they liked, too. I can’t think of any Larrys in the family. And then when I was girl, they gave me Roma. And Mom always says that grandma was “tickled.”

Mom had me in a hospital. The old Saint Jo’s. Whenever we drove on the freeway out to Los Lunas, Mom would point off toward the new St. Joseph’s and say, “See the older building? That’s where you were born.” All these years I thought it was this really old building that is about two or three stories, made of thick granite stone that has turned a sooty gray. I had taken to pointing it out whenever we were near there and telling my girls that that was where I was born. But just the other day, when I took my mom to the new St. Jo’s to get eye surgery, she pointed to a different old building and said that one was the old hospital. “Well, what’s that building over there,” I asked. “Oh, that’s the old sanitarium.”

So all this time, the place where I thought I had been born was actually the old mental institution. It was a letdown to know that the old St. Jo’s was not nearly as old looking. It just looked like a lesser, worn-down hospital.

I do know that back in the days when Mom had her kids, they let mothers stay for three or so days afterward in order to recuperate. I imagine that must have been the calm before the storm. Back home, waiting, there were a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a 12-year-old. Wow. Just tonight I went shopping with the girls for two hours and afterward, on the drive home, the girls were chatty and excited, and I had to say, “Hey you two, I’m a little overwhelmed so can we drive the rest of the way in silence?”

They were good about it, and so was I. Mom would have just screamed, “I can’t stand it anymore!” Poor Mom. Five kids is an awful lot to have.

That’s about all I know of my birth story. Everything fast forwards from there on out to when I got sick with the croup and the emergency tracheotomy. It’s funny, though. I can picture them coming back home with me. I think in those days moms held their infants in their laps in the car. I’m pretty sure Dad had a big car. I’ve seen a big car in the old photos. And I picture Dad and Mom walking into the small house they had, and all the kids being excited. I wonder if Larry was disappointed. I bet he was.

I think I slept in a crib in Mom and Dad’s bedroom for my first year, maybe two. I remember sharing a room with Janet, and did Larry share a room with us, too? I know the house only had a couple of bedrooms. Dad converted the garage into a den. There are a lot of gaps in my memory about the house on Neat Lane.

I don’t have a baby book, but we had lots of old pictures. I was in plenty of them, often being held up on Dad’s knee for the camera. And we have lots of old movies. Jim took them and had some made into a video for my parents’ 50th. Or was it for their 60th?




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the third of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey); PRACTICE: Do You Know The Circumstances Of Your Birth? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman)

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By Bob Chrisman


It was a dark and stormy night on May 3, 1952. I’ve always wanted to write that cliché opener. Flood waters had swept across the area around St. Joseph, but the Missouri Methodist Hospital was high on a hill. My mother delivered a healthy baby boy. The nurses told her that I looked just like my father because I had thick black hair and sideburns like my father.

I thought I was the second child. My sister was almost ten years older than I was and no one talked about another pregnancy. Had my parents not decided to go to the World’s Fair in Montreal, Canada in 1967, the year I turned 15, I would have lived and died not knowing about the other pregnancy.

Someone told my mother that we needed certified copies of our birth certificates to come back into the United States so she ordered a copy for each of us. They arrived one morning in the mail and she took the official looking, Manila envelope into her bedroom to open. I sat on the floor in anticipation of seeing my birth certificate.

She handed it to me and I read every entry. “Mom, my birth certificate is wrong. It says you have had two other children by live birth.” I showed her the line of the certified copy.

“No, it’s correct.” She walked to the chest of drawer and put the other birth certificates in the box where she kept all the important papers.

“Was the baby a boy or a girl?” I asked because the idea of a missing sibling intrigued me.

“I don’t remember. It was a miscarriage. Something was wrong with the baby.” She kept moving away from me and I was too enthralled with this new knowledge to let it go.

“But, how could you not remember?’

“It’s been a long time ago. I don’t remember anymore.” She walked out of the bedroom.

I let the topic drop because she wouldn’t give me any information. I didn’t take up the question again until years later when my mother, then in her 80s, wrote a short autobiography at my request. She mentioned the loss of a baby somewhere around 1946. My sister would have been going on four years old.

My sister doesn’t remember anything, but she would have been three going on four. My favorite aunt and uncle said they didn’t know anything about a pregnancy which seems hard to believe if the child was a live birth.

As I reflect on that lost baby, I wonder how that colored her reaction to being pregnant with me and to my birth. Maybe that accounts for the way she protected me against everything and everyone. I’ll never know the answers to my questions, which are a circumstance of my birth.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the third of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey),  PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey)

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By Anonymous


My stomach still tenses and my palms still sweat when I recall, and relive, a time I was mistakenly accused of something I didn’t do. Forty years have yet to erase the fear and confusion I felt the night my father woke me from my sleep while hurtling accusations and threats at me. In my half-awake state, it took me too long to realize what was happening, and when I eventually denied any wrongdoing, the timing made anything I said in my defense seem like a lie. That night was the fatal crack in the foundation of my father’s relationship with me, and one that was never repaired.

My neighborhood, once mansioned and gracious and occupied by physicians and factory owners with Southern manners, was still mansioned, but it was neither gracious nor well mannered. The expansive homes, far too large for a single family when they had been built in the late 1800s, had been partitioned into apartments during the Depression Years. Often four or six families lived in divided sections of the grand older homes on the street my family lived on.

When friends would drive me home from school or a party, they were always impressed by the looks of my house. Its exterior was certainly impressive, but I seldom invited anyone inside. I didn’t want to explain that my family’s apartment took up two rooms on the second floor of the stately house and two more rooms carved from attic space. I knew it wasn’t right to be embarrassed by my family’s home – it was clean and cared for, it had all the essentials – and yet at 14, I would rather have lived in an architecturally barren 50s ranch with no character. I longed to live in the neighborhood I tended carefully in my imagination – no ‘hoods gathering in the alleyway, no fist fights breaking out in the dim backyards, no strangers prowling in the hallways of my home.

I was a good kid at 14. The kids I hung around with were good kids too, all smart, ambitious, college bound. Instead of drugs or alcohol, we brought guitars to our parties and we played our music and sang. Not rock ‘n roll either. We sang our share of Beatles’ tunes, but we also sang “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Kumbaya.” We also protested the Viet Nam War, not by throwing rocks at store windows and setting American flags on fire, but by wearing MIA bracelets on our wrists, with earnest promises that we wouldn’t remove them until the soldier whose name was inscribed on our bracelet came home from the war.

On that pivotal night, the night of the false accusation, my father returned to the apartment late. He had been drinking. This was a major source of stress in my family, and I often was awakened in the middle of the night by my parents’ arguments in the next room. But on that night I became a major player in the drama.

I was startled awake by my father who came storming into my room. He began hurtling accusations at me. He claimed to have found a bag of marijuana in the garage he rented behind our house. He wanted an explanation. He wanted to know what else I was hiding from him.

I stammered my innocence, but he refused to believe me. Repeatedly he asked me what drugs I used, who gave them to me, what else did I do that he wouldn’t approve of. When he pulled off his belt and started thrashing me, I burrowed deep under my blankets, trying to hide from his verbal and physical assaults. I shrieked, one loud, hysterical scream.

He stopped hitting me then, and left as quickly as he had come in, and for much of the night I stayed awake wondering what had happened. I wanted to pretend it had only been a vivid nightmare, fabricated in my dreams, and yet, the night silence was punctuated by angry bursts of words from my parents’ bedroom. I knew it was not a nightmare of my creation.

I never saw the marijuana I supposedly was hiding. It was never discussed again.

There was never any resolution. That, I think, was the hardest part about the entire incident. The accusation remained a silent wall, thrust up in the middle of a single night, and never repaired or torn down. I think now, if we had talked about that incident, we might have lessened the damage it did to our relationship. But he was a man of few words when he was sober. He was not one for talking through a problem.

And so, with a wrong accusation, a father-daughter relationship was irreparably harmed.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This Writing Topic refers to three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each. A red Ravine reader, who wished to remain anonymous, also sent us a piece, based on a 25-minute Writing Practice on the second question, Have you ever been accused of doing something you didn’t do?]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey),  PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by QuoinMonkey)

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I could probably wrack my brain and come up with something someone wrongly accused me of during a spat or a fight, but nothing stands out. In fact, I pretty much have done everything anyone ever accused me of. Maybe someone called me selfish, and I don’t think I’m very selfish at all. But you see, there’s always more than one side to a story. I might in fact be pretty selfish at times.

I once ran across some little gangbangers walking down the road. I got into a tiff with them. My girls cried in the backseat as I got out of the car and confronted them. They had slapped the side of my car as I drove by, as if my car were the rump of a big horse. It was summer and we had the windows rolled down. The gang kids were walking abreast, three of them, taking up almost my entire lane. Another car was coming down the opposite lane, and so I honked to get the kids to move off to the side. It was a slow road, normally 25 miles an hour, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t wait for the other car to pass and then drive around the kids, but when they glanced back yet stayed put in the middle of the lane, I inched so close that I almost ran over a foot. But I was going about five or ten miles an hour. I don’t think I could have hurt anyone.

They accused me of starting a fight with them. This I learned from the cop who I sic’d on them after I had a confrontation with the kids. They were two girls and boy. The girls were 15 and maybe 16, and the boy slightly older. After I got out of the car, that being after they slapped the side of the car as I inched by, we had words. I think I might have said, “What the hell did you just say???” I had heard something like “What the fuck?” as I drove by, probably because I almost ran over a foot.

There was a whole next part of the confrontation, where they followed me to the library, which was just a few yards from where I had first stopped the car, and I was feeling mean and strong, like the 16-year-old in me who’d gone to school with a bunch of pachucas was rising to the top, ready to go to blows if need be. I said a bunch of stuff that provoked them. I was mad that they were so damned cocky and stupid. And that they were probably going to waste their lives, acting too cool for their own good. My anger came out, and I remember feeling ready for a good fist fight.

And my girls were still in the backseat of the car waiting while I turned in my book, which, by the way, was To Kill A Mockingbird, which, by the way, I never read in high school or junior high but in my mid-40s. The girls were pretty scared, crying while they watched their mother walk by three kids who thought they were pretty tough, the boy was bouncing on his Pumas or whatever tennis shoes boys like him wore. And his bling were flying in the air, hitting his chest every time he went up and the bling went down.

Well, what I want to say is I probably did provoke that confrontation. I was in that kind of a mood, and when I drove away, peeling out so that the gravel under the tires of my car spit up toward them, I saw a cop sitting in his car just around the corner. I pulled up and told him that there were some delinquents by the library. Later, when I saw the cop again and asked him how things had turned out, he said that they accused me of saying a bunch of stuff to them and starting the whole thing. “Oh, really?” I said. And then he told me, “Yeah, but who was I to believe? A middle-aged woman with kids or a bunch of delinquents?”

I kind of felt bad for them just then.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the second of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey); and PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by Bob Chrisman)

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By Bob Chrisman

It would strain the imagination of anyone to believe I have escaped false accusations in my long life, so I won’t try. Early on, the world taught me that attention and praise attracted mean and nasty comments from other people. My life’s goal became to blend in with the world around me, to not stick out. That never worked for me.

The song, This Little Light of Mine, from my childhood Sunday school keeps running through my mind. The lyrics tell us to let our lights “shine, shine, shine” and never “hide it under a bushel.” I tried to hide my light, but I might as well have tried to hide the Sun. Took me almost forty years to raise my light. I admitted to myself that I couldn’t dim the brightness.

One consequence of shining brightly is being accused of doing things I didn’t do. High profile people make easy targets for unhappy foes. I know lots of people. I know lots of things about lots of people. I know lots of secret things about lots of people. They’ve told me their secrets. As a result, I’m sometimes the first person who comes to mind when someone feels betrayed because one of their secrets got out.

First, a secret is something that not more than one person knows. Secrets lose their secret-ness when two or more people know. If you want to keep a secret, don’t tell anyone else.

The most hurtful thing I have been accused of doing was telling a secret I didn’t even know. The person confronted me with my alleged indiscretion. “How could you tell him about that incident?” he demanded. “What reason could you have had for divulging that embarrassing information?”

“But, I didn’t even know about that situation. How could I tell anyone else?”

“You liar. I’m giving you a chance to come clean. How can you stand here in front of me and lie to my face?”

I toyed with the idea of admitting my guilt, even though I hadn’t told. Then I could throw myself on his mercy. I wanted to remain friends, but I hadn’t done anything. I repeatedly denied any part in telling the secret.

“You aren’t my friend anymore.” He ended the drama by stomping out of the room and slamming the door. We haven’t spoken since that confrontation.

Later I learned that he found out who told the secret. That betrayer and the betrayed forgave and forgot. They remain friends to this day. Sometimes knowing that bit of information hurts more than the false accusation.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the second of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey)

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By Barin Beard


It was a snowy, dreary day in southern Idaho. I was cold and homesick, and I was ready to go back to New Mexico. I questioned my sanity for being a thousand miles north, in sub-zero temperatures on the slope of a ski mountain. I didn’t even know how to ski! (When I told that to Idahoans, they couldn’t believe it.)

After a day working the chairlift, I went to my boss Gretchen and told her I was going to quit because I wanted to head back south. I was tired of being cold; snow and ice weren’t for me.

When I walked out of the lodge it was dark and the snow was falling. I got into my Jeep, a 1964 CJ-5, the short wheel-base wonder car, but it hated ice just like I did. I got into the unheated rag-top half cab and buckled my lap-belt. To get the belt to snap took some real effort—it was frozen, but I figured it’d be best to wear my seat belt.

I headed down the mountain in the dark. The road had about six inches of fresh snow. All was fine; I was tooling down the road at about 20 mph in 4-wheel drive high range.

About five miles down from the lodge I came to an S in the road and as soon as I entered the right-hand curve, I knew I was in trouble. Because of the jeep’s short stance, the rear axle slid out to the left, and I was heading down the road sideways. I turned the front wheels to the left into the slide, but there was no response. I may have tapped the brakes which probably worsened the problem, but now the road was curving to the left and I was still sliding perpendicular to the road, but heading straight.

I pretty much knew what was going to happen next. The jeep slid off the road onto the soft shoulder, left wheels digging in first and I immediately rolled! The headlights did a slow motion counter clockwise roll, then the driver’s side of the jeep hit hard with a crash! I continued rolling over… upside down, onto the passenger’s side, back up on the wheels, back onto the driver’s side, upside down, passenger side, upright, driver’s side, upside down, and finally coming to rest on the passenger’s side.

I dangled from the driver’s seat, the world on its side. The electric fuel pump was buzzing, so I turn off the ignition, then turned off the headlights, and assessed my situation while hanging from my seat belt (which I was glad I was wearing). I unbuckled the seat belt and fell into the passenger seat. I stood up inside the cab, reached up to the canvas driver’s door and popped it open. The door opened like the hatch on a tank. I crawled out by using the seats as steps.

Once outside the jeep, I looked things over. Still snowing, still cold, still dark. I figured I might be out there for a long while before someone came along, so I’d better do something. I walked around the jeep. It looked drivable IF I could get it back on its wheels.

There was a trail of debris from the road to the jeep. I needed to find my flashlight first, then my HiLift jack, then my other stuff, like my tool box. After a few minutes stomping around in foot-deep snow I found my things and decided how I could get the jeep back on its wheels. Meanwhile it was cold, probably below zero Fahrenheit. I put the HiLift onto the roll bar on the passenger side of the jeep and started lifting. The jack topped out when the CJ-5 was at its tipping point so I started rocking the jeep. The HiLift slipped out from the roll bar and the jeep crashed back to the ground.

Now more determined, I repeated the procedure and this time was successful getting the jeep past the tipping point, wheels back on the ground. Working as fast as I could, I opened the hood and checked the battery and fluid levels. I piled everything into the back of the jeep, including the ragtop. I got into the driver’s seat, put my foot on the accelerator but it went right to the floor. I knew exactly what happened. I lifted the hood again and saw the throttle linkage had come apart due to a broken cotter pin. I walked over to a nearby barbed wire fence and found some tie wire, broke off a piece, and fashioned the wire into a new cotter pin. I was back in business.

I started the jeep, put it in 4-wheel drive low, reverse gear, and ease out the clutch. The jeep clawed its way back onto the snowy highway. I was back on the road, without a top or heater, headed back to my studio apartment in Twin Falls.

I am not sure if I almost died that night. Obviously my seat belt kept me from being ejected and possibly crushed and killed. I probably would not have frozen to death since other people were still up at the ski lodge. Even so, in five years of owning that jeep, that was the most serious adventure we had together.

A few days later, I left Idaho and headed south to New Mexico, without a top or heater. The first few hours were extremely cold.


-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the first of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each. red Ravine reader and fellow blogger Barin Beard—aka Mimbres Man—also sent us a piece, based on a 15-minute Writing Practice on the first question, Have you ever come close to death?]

-Also related to posts PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey),  PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman).

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