I was driving my first car, a 1963 Ford Galaxy. Prior to buying that car I had driven whatever vehicle was setting around. In those days there were several to choose from. It looked like a used car lot in front of our house. The year was 1967. I was almost 15. After closing down the Texaco, my first job outside of working for my dad, I drove up and down the street until it appeared everyone had headed home, so I started out for the 9 mile trip to Smithwick. The time was early to be going home, I think around 11:00 PM. I remember it being a moonlit night.
The first long straight stretch started just after passing the turnoff to Fry’s camp. Feeling the free spirit and the power of that 390 CI Ford Engine I kicked it up to about 90 mph as I passed the Eskew Place. It was going to be a good fast trip home. As I approached what is now the Faith Academy, as my headlights dipped when I made the first descent, all I could see was a horse standing broadside in my lane. It was no more than 60 or 70 yards in front of me. Instinctively I made a very quick jerk to the left, to get in the west bound lane and then another jerk back to the right. This all done without locking up my brakes, which should have been my first inclination. I still don’t know how a kid with so little driving experience pulled that off. Going off either side of the road was a fairly steep drop off that would have not been good.
Miraculously I had stayed on the road. By the time I crossed the Hamilton Creek bridge I had slowed to half my original speed. All I could think about was why was a horse standing in the road. It kept flashing in my mind that the horse was saddled and just standing there.
Just past my Aunt Marie Bible’s driveway there were several more horses with riders. They were from Camp Peniel, a the kids camp another couple of miles down the road. I stopped to inquire about the horse that had almost caused my death.
They said that horse had hurt its foot and was limping so they were heading back to the camp to get help. Yes, they had left it in the road where they thought it would be safest. As I would later understand, the group were camp councilors on their free night between campers, just out for a leisurely ride. They were most likely high schoolers from the city with few worldly experiences to deal with the circumstances at hand. I made them, yes I made them head back to get the horse and tie it up to a fence post. I went back to sit with my flashers on until the horse was relocated.
At that speed, a horse up across my hood and through the windshield would not have been survivable. If there was ever a time during my youth that I was certain that an angel was sitting on my shoulder, it was that night.