“In life we all have an unspeakable secret"

Ande Bliss

Ande Bliss
November 04
Essays, poetry, opinion and short stories. Free lance on line and in print. Favorite quote: "In life we all have an unspeakable secret, and irreversible regret, an unreachable dream, and an unforgettable love.” ― Diego Marchi Personal Website:


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JUNE 8, 2012 10:33AM

Joy Riding Kills Four

Rate: 11 Flag



It was a beautiful summer evening in the spring of 1957.

Jeff Morris was in the bathroom when Barry McDonald came by to pick him for a ride with the gang. He was driving his father's new Impala.

Jeff could not be rushed and the kids were impatient to get going, so they left without him. 

 That particular beautiful evening turned into the worst night in the town's history. Everyone was in shock. Everyone knew someone in the car.



Four young people died when their Chevy Impala convertible slammed into a telephone pole on Hillside Road,  Friday night. It was traveling at 80 MPH.

The vehicle was crushed beyond recognition. Miraclously, the driver was thrown from the car. The other passengers, all members of the class of  1954 were killed.


With the approval of  the families of the dead boys, the town fathers decided to place the bloody wreck  in the middle of the 'Square'. 

We passed it every day. The message was clear. 

Barry McDonald lived with his guilt. He was seldom seen around town.

Jeff Morris became an attorney and a selectman in the town where he grew up.                               


       images-6 *              



 * I searched for pictures of similar wrecks, but this was about as close as I could come. Actually, the car looked as if had been crushed in a giant hand. There was little form left. Just a heap of blue metal. 

This is a true story. Names of people. town and year have been changed to provide anonymity. 

After reading a post today, by  Dianne Schuch - Lindsey, about teen age drivers, I thought about my comment. It had to do with my own kids using an old station wagon as their mode of transportation. Afterwards,  I remembered why.

The image of that wreck in the town square has stayed with me for my entire life time. They say that pictures are better than words. How about a metal tomb holding the spirits of  four dead boys. 















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teen drivers, spring night.

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Effective, Ande. Yes, indeed. Quite effective -on me. Our high school puts a wreck in the front of the school each year for homecoming and prom. I never know the history of the wrecks or whether the kids do, but you and I know, of course, that when kids are joy riding they don't think about yesterday or tomorrow - just the excitement of the moment.
I feel sorry for the boy who mistakenly drove over the speed limit that time. How he must hate having don eso! He may even hate himself. And who wouldn't? These life-changing events happen when one isn't quite prepared for the fallout when one is still a child. And those kids were not yet fully fledged adults. Very sad.
Your compassionate account is a real reminder of the seriousness of teenaged driving and its implications on our children's futures.
Thank you, Ande.
All of us who have taught children have lost some to this horror.
Every parents worst nightmare. I have always thought 16 and 17 year olds are too young to drive. This kind of thing still happens every day some 50 years later. Those kind of images stay with you forever. R
I am so grateful my own children don't drive. We lost three girls in my high school class in two different accidents. You don't ever get over it when they are your friends, but I also imagine the families and how this tears them apart.
The problem is that when we're that young we believe that tomorrow is a sure thing... I've always just hoped for the best with my step-son and now that he's got his own son, in a short fifteen years he'll find himself in the same boat. It's a rite of passage for everyone, young and old alike.
I feel strange rating a post like this. It is so sad to see youth wasted, because they think they are invincible. Jonathan is right in noting that all of us who have taught have been touched by such a tragedy when we heard of a name of a young man or woman who was a late student of ours at one time.
Thank you for writing this, Ande; may be one day the culture will show how 'uncool' this is, just may be. R
OH MY!!! I just found this after FINALLY reading my mail.

Yes, this is as profound as it gets.

My post was to bring humor to teenage driving. But the bottom line is, teenagers should not have stereos in their cars and not be allowed to have any more than one passenger while driving.

It has been proven that teenagers who get in accidents are
a: under the influence (a given unfortunately)

b:fooling with electronics (lunckly back then, it was ONLY the stereo, now it is phones, stereos etc. It is even worse.)

c: Distracted by passengers (remember the back slapping of the driver when we were young, if they were too serious about what they were doing?) Passengers laughing yelling and mooning people while the driver is trying to concentrate.

In Wisconsin, at least 10 years ago, you could only have one passenger if you are under the age of 18.

I wonder how many people here, not only the youngsters, have gotten into wrecks while tuning the radio.

I am sorry to admit this, but I did.

I was driving down fm 1960 and wasn't paying attention. I hit one of thos Barrels filled with sand. I didn't hurt anyone, but one of my decorationg fabric books flew forward and did a Karate' chop to my neck. The car had $3000 in damage!

So, you see, it can happen to any of us.

Love the post, and thanks for the link.

as always