Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Missing Photo

Hard to believe but six years ago, I wrote a blog post about a car wreck that my great grandfather survived. He is seen above standing by the car afterwards. To recap the story in case you don't want to go back and read it through the link and to include some new information, my great grandfather was driving back home through some country roads. Back then, none of them had stop signs and so when you came to an intersection, you employed "country stop" rules. Those essentially stated that if two vehicles were approaching an intersection at the same time, the car to the right had the right-of-way. According to my grandfather, my great grandfather thus had the right-of-way and proceeded through the unmarked intersection.

The other person was not familiar with these rules and also proceeded and thus ended up broadsiding my great grandfather's Studebaker on the driver's side. The impact and lack of seat belts sent my grandfather flying across the car so hard that the weight of his body and head buckled the passenger door outward. The impact was hard enough that later that evening my grandfather fell into a coma and they had to drill holes in his skull to save his life. He survived and thus I suspect the reason for the picture above which was found in my great uncle's photos that I scanned after his death.

One of the photos in the previous post showed the passenger door from the outside and you could see it was buckled but other than the story of the coma, I didn't fully appreciate the force of the impact until now. Among my grandfather's photos, brother to my great uncle mentioned above, I found another photograph that I had never seen before and is shown below. There it is very obvious where my great grandfather hit and the dent in the steel door frame is severe enough for me to understand how hard he hit. I'm guessing I could take a hammer and hit that door frame squarely with all my might and not do as much damage.

Fortunately my great grandfather survived that wreck and another one later on in life. It had always just been a story but I found photos of it among my grandparent's possessions and I will be writing up a post on that wreck in the near future. Fortunately with both wrecks, my grandfather was already born so had my great grandfather not survived either wreck, there is still a chance that I would still be here but I'm guessing the stories would have already been lost to time.


Kelly said...

Jeez! Considering cars were made of steel then (instead of today's plastic/fiberglass or whatever it is), I'm all the more amazed. The photos do tell quite a story!

Ed said...

Kelly - I thought so too.

Vince said...

The really hilarious thing is that car would've been brought to a garage. All the panels removed and beaten out, and what couldn't filled with putty. Frame cut with a torch, beaten back into shape, rewelded. And the whole reassembled. It might very well have axles askew to each other so it drove in a sorta crablike fashion. But nobody took too much notice back then.

Looking at that/those photos would make you wonder at the forces involved. The first wallop would've been onto the impact side. Then I expect he rattled about like a dice in a cup for a bit. And what probably saved him was that he was shunted away from the steering column. That's what really did the damage back in the day.
Mind you it took a while too, for them to realise the need for headrests. For while the seatbelt stopped the crushing of the chest on the steering wheel, the snap back of the head killed even more.

Ed said...

Vince - "Rattled about like a dice in a cup" is an excellent description. I imagine that the procedure to relieve brain pressure and to bring my great grandfather out of his coma was a similarly crude affair compared to today's methods.

Susan said...

Wow. It is a miracle that he survived, let alone turned out okay in the end. Like Kelly said, cars in those days were solid and steel. What an ordeal! And how neat that you have photographs!