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By Jack Hackley
Every once in a while I drive on I-70 100 miles from Columbia to Oak Grove and back. There are two lanes of solid traffic both ways, no matter what time of day. It frightens me to think of all these cars going down the road 80 mph and that a driver might be drunk. That driver should lose his license forever.
Sixty years ago it was different. After midnight, there wouldn’t be more than a car an hour going down 40 Highway, which was replaced by I-70. We had no speed limit – and no law against driving and drinking. But if you got stopped for abusing either, the patrol could give you a ticket for careless and imprudent driving.
In 1950 when I was a senior, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s we all gathered at the Ranchhouse, a roadhouse joint between Grain Valley and Blue Springs. The Korean War was on and classmates who’d quit school to join the service or been drafted and were home knew to meet at the Ranchhouse.
That Christmas Eve, my closest friend Daren Davis and I left at 1:30 a.m. and went to the car to go home. It seemed like we had been driving quite a while when I asked Davis if he could see where we were. I couldn’t see a thing. We stopped the car and realized that while we were in the saloon an ice storm hit and there was about a half an inch of ice on the windshield. We could see the lights of the Ranchhouse, but we weren’t on the road. We had headed southeast and were stuck out in a field.
The wind was blowing and it was bitter cold. We called good-old Roy Warren, who had a wrecker, to pull us out. His cable wasn’t long enough to reach us, so he took another cable and tied it on to finally pull us out. We asked him how much we owed. He said we didn’t have enough money to pay him for getting out of a warm bed at 2 a.m. Christmas morning and if he hadn’t known our folks so well he wouldn’t have come at all – and please never call him again.
Back then there was no such thing as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. If there had been, Davis and I could have been their poster boys.
Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.