Narrows Bridge

by kfrego

In the summer of 1966 I went to Felix Chevrolet in Los Angeles to buy a new Corvette for cash. As we walked across the huge sales lot to look at the Corvettes we passed through rows of new 1966 Chevelle SS 396’s. A black convertible with a white top and white bench seat interior caught my eye. We passed a few more rows of cars when I called the salesman back to the SS Chevelle. So much for the Corvette of my dreams. The new Chevelle cost me $3400 out the door when picking it up the next day.

My July leave arrived and the airlines were on strike. There were 35,000 machinists on strike with sixty percent of the airline industry not flying. I visited my Uncle Bob and Aunt Ida in Oroville, Ca. The strike looked bad so my only choice was to drive home to Lyon Mountain, NY. The only thing showing the new car was mine was a temporary paper plate wired to the back bumper. A thunderstorm between Laramie and Cheyenne, WY tore the temporary plate off. Only one Pennsylvania State Policeman stopped me to ask about ownership.

Two weeks after arriving home myself and Kenny Thompson were out cruising around just before dark. We had a cooler of beer in the back seat and headed for lower Chateaugay Lake. We were driving probably 45 or 50 with the headlights on as we passed the Hollywood. The roads were wet from light rains. We came up behind a slow car just before the narrows bridge. I clicked my headlights on bright and back to dim as we started passing the slow car. This was a habit used by a lot of drivers to signal passing of another vehicle. We never changed speed, just proceeded around the slow car. We were about two feet behind the other car in the left lane when he turned left. No one was hurt, but my heart was broken over the crumpled fender of my Chevelle. The other driver never knew we were there until we hit him. They were teenage counselors from Camp Chateaugay. Kenny and I carried the cooler into the brush along side the narrows road while waiting for the trooper. The trooper gave me a ticket for improper display of registration because I didn’t have plates or a registration. He turned his back to the other car and asked if we knew those idiots. Definitely not. The wrecker dropped us off at my mothers house a mile up the road.

The Justice of the Peace in Ellenburg greeted me at his door. He listened to my explanation of the registration and being home on leave. He stood up, tore the ticket in half, threw it in his wastebasket, and told me he was tired of the troopers messing with the men home on leave. He shook my hand and thanked me for being a Marine.

My Chevelle was at Santa Chevrolet when my leave ended…………………and the machinists were back to work so I could fly to California.