The next sound I heard was metal crushing


The next sound I heard was metal crushing

Posted Saturday, June 20, 2020 9:02 pm

GARY MATHENY GARY MATHENY It doesn’t matter what era you grow up in. Life has its moments.  Those moments can either be filled with happiness, sadness, frustration or simply depressing. As I have written many times, I had three brothers — two older and one younger. My oldest brother — Fred, Freddie, Fred Jr. — was approximately five years my senior and lived with us a very short time when we moved to Jones County. Being the age of about 18, he had other thoughts on his mind and it wasn’t sharing a room with one of his brothers. During my ninth-grade year, my younger brother began ill and was diagnosed with cancer. Being a young man of 12, and never having to face anything this tragic other than the death of John Kennedy, my world was turned upside down. I had always run interference for him during grammar school; you know, being the big brother, so this rocked my young world. He was sent to Augusta, Ga., to a fabulous hospital to begin the process of attacking this awful enemy. This is where the story takes a great and humorous turn. Mom and Dad tag-teamed as they took leave from work, each spending the needed time with him in Augusta, leaving Mickey — my older brother — and me, as they would say, home alone. Aiken, S.C., back in the 1960s, was a place where young couples would steal away and begin a new chapter in their young lives, entering as boyfriend and girlfriend, then leaving as Mr. and Mrs. It was a Sunday afternoon in the summer. My mom and dad, along with my dad’s sister, Aunt Mary, took a trip to Augusta to spend time with Randy. There were many friends of my parents that recognized the need to give them a break so they could get clean clothes, check on my brother and me, simply get some time away. They would come and sit with Randy, allowing them this needed time. This particular Sunday afternoon, Freddie, as we affectionately called him, had made the trip to Aiken to pursue somewhat of a business arrangement with a young woman who later that day became my sister-in-law. As they were driving home on that two-laned highway, my parents and Aunt Mary were driving to Augusta.  As fate would have it, they passed one another like two ships in the night except this was broad daylight.  As the story was told by Freddie, he saw them and as they passed Aunt Mary looked straight into his face and never recognized him. Dad, nor Mom, never saw him either. Life does have its strange moments. Mickey and I were housed with some friends of my parents — Jack and Nell Stowe — an older couple, but great people.  We each had our own room and it was as if we were visiting our grandparents for the summer. One Saturday morning, Mrs. Stowe told me she had to go do some errands and she asked if I would like to accompany her. Being 14, and with no bicycle or friends around, I agreed and we started out the door. As we got closer to her large automobile, she threw me the keys and said, “You can drive.” Now place yourself in my shoes and tell me what you would do at that age and you were just handed the world in your hands? Don’t judge me. I took those keys and proceeded to drive Mrs. Nell around town that morning. As I pulled that big automobile into the driveway, placed it in park, shut off the motor and handed her the keys, she remarked, “You are a good driver.” I simply smiled and said, “Thanks. I can’t wait till I get my learner's permit.” I will never forget the look on that sweet woman’s face. I guess you have already figured out she didn’t ask me to drive anymore. Usually while staying with the Stowe’s, we had to get up early and would go back home to catch the bus to school.  Dad gave strict orders for Mickey not to drive, except to work and maybe a date on the weekend. A lot of times we would set the clock and catch a nap before the bus came which is what we did this particular morning. I remember waking up and realizing the bus was gone and to get to school we had to use Dad’s Volkswagen Beetle.  School was approximately 13 miles away in Gray, so we had to really get a move on or we would be tardy resulting in a note to our parents and ... well, you get the picture. Mickey grabbed the keys to the Beetle and we hurriedly climbed in to make the trip. As the engine turned and the sound of the little car illuminated the day, he turned to me and smiled. His next words were, “I bet I can back between the brick posts without looking in the mirror.” Challenge accepted! Dad had built two huge brick columns on the end of the driveway that housed lanterns that illuminated the way at night. Mickey slowly began backing that little car up the driveway as I watched to assure he wasn’t cheating and looking.  Just as he got within three-to-four feet of the poles, I put my hand over the mirror.  The next sound I heard was metal crushing. ——— (About the writer:  Gary Matheny is retired after a long career in the pharmaceutical industry.  Now a Cleveland resident, he is the author of two books, "If The Shoe Fits" and "The Bullet." He also writes a popular blog, "Life Happens." Email him at and follow him at his website,

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