The plans were to visit Dick and Katherine Labor Day weekend , staying in a motel Sunday and depart for home on the holiday. The Mullins',
Katherine and Dick , lived in Dalton, a small town in the Berkshires. From Abington, where we lived , the trip was estimated to take
about four hours.
There were six in our car and four in the Lynch's. Our four kids ranged from three to eleven and the Lynch boys were
three and five. Since we would be on the Turnpike for most of the trip , it was decided we would travel under the speed limit, which
was fifty-five in 1963. The Lynch's would lead in their 1953 Chevy Sedan and we would follow in our 1960 Ford Station Wagon. Our speed
limit was easy to maintain due to all the traffic on the holiday week-end.
We had a pleasant visit and the kids really enjoyed Sunday
when we hiked a local mountain trail. Everybody had no trouble falling asleep that night . After a big breakfast we headed home early
We were almost at our exit to Route 128 , when it happened. My rear-view mirror,reflected a large truck on my left
which was passing me at a high rate of speed. It was a fuel truck for one of the large oil companies. The driver intended to pass
the Lynch car but decided to abruptly get between us. When he did so, his speed and poor judgement about available space caused him
to strike the Lynch car on the left rear with his right front. It wasn't a big collision but it did cause the Lynch car to go into
a spin. The Chevy swung to the right and quickly reversed direction, heading for the center strip.
The truck continued at the same
speed but was headed for an overpass abutment. I had two immediate concerns. One , of course, was the Lynch car. Another , was the
sight of a huge fuel truck directly in front of us, headed for what appeared to be a collision. My thought turned immediately to the
contents of the truck. Would there be a conflagration a few yards ahead of us? I was able to brake and pull over to the side. I had
already told the kids to get on the floor. Gloria and I hunched down and viewed the truck as it came to a stop just before the abutment.
Chevy ended up on the center strip. I didn't have any problem crossing the highway to get to the center strip because the traffic
had come to a standstill. I noticed the car had four flat tires but no other serious damage except a dent on the rear where the truck
had struck it. The Lynch's , John and Phyllis, were surprisingly calm, but the kids were crying uncontrollably. John told me when
the car got on the center strip it spun around a few times before coming to a halt. He said, "thank God, I thought we were going to
cross onto the highway. " It wasn't long before the State Troopers came and the questions came .After it was determined that there
were no injuries, the four Lynch's loaded into our station wagon and we were ready to continue our journey home. We were lucky that
our vehicle was a large station wagon. We had two bench seats and a jump seat . The jump seat was in the rear where it could be folded
up for non-use or down for passengers. Four of the smallest kids were placed on the jump seat. One was in the rear bench seat with
the Lynch's and one in the front with Gloria and me. Driving home to Abington and Brockton with ten occupants, six of them toddlers
or pre-teens, was an experience.
A few months passed and one day I received a letter which stated that I was due to appear in Middlesex
District Court as a witness. I called the telephone number that was listed and told the individual that I wouldn't be able to testify
because I was a High School teacher in Weymouth and couldn't get the day off on such short notice. The reply I received was ...."
If you go to school that day we will send the State Police that will transport you to court in handcuffs." My first thought was the
enjoyable reaction for my students. Gloria and the Lynchs were not called.
I was lead to an adjoining room when the trial was underway.
After what seemed like hours, I was called into the courtroom and directed to enter an enclosure that I recognized quickly as a witness
box from all the movies and TV experiences. I sat down on the chair. The Judge turned to me and asked if I had an affliction of some
kind. When I replied, "No, your honor.". He said, "then stand up! " After the swearing in, I thought I would be able to sit , but
that wasn't to be. Anything I told the court came from a vertical position.
When asked by the prosecutor to describe what I remembered
about the incident on Labor Day on The Massachusetts Pike, I noticed on the shelf in the witness box an array of what looked like
Match Box Vehicles. One was a fuel truck. I asked if I could use the models to assist in the description. There was an immediate interruption
that lasted a few minutes and the result was the models were not allowed. I gave my account to the prosecutor and readied myself for
the defense. I answered his questions as best I could and felt like the lawyer was 'nt too happy.
During my testimony , I noticed the
defendent , the fuel truck driver , was calmly seated and listening closely.I was dismissed and did not wait to learn the result of
I found out later that the truck driver was found not guilty of all charges .
I probably could have done a better job for
justice as a juror than a witness.
A Week-End To Remember