Posts Tagged ‘Frames’
I’m not a good driver. For years, I pretended to be a good driver who had a lot of bad luck. Over time, that story didn’t hold up.
The tone was set on my sixteenth birthday. I drove Matt Cunningham and Tim Yount to Pooch’s Pizza in Herndon to celebrate (we were crazy). On the way home, I slammed on the brakes for no apparent reason. Matt flew from the back to the front seat. His head cracked the rearview mirror.
I wrecked both my parents’ cars on consecutive Saturday nights. The first time really wasn’t my fault – really. Dean Carlson and I were cruising in Colby when the car was rear ended. Dean had to do several months of physical therapy to deal with the whiplash.
The second Saturday I had more explaining to do. I was giving Brad Leitner a ride home from a wedding dance.
I started backing out before he closed the door. The door didn’t like that too much.
I even had “bad luck” from the passenger side. Riding around with Denise McMillan one night I shifted her truck from drive to reverse. We were already moving. The transmission didn’t like that too much. I think that was expensive.
It may seem strange with all that bad luck I had two driver jobs. I drove a wheat truck for Bill Lewis one summer. It worked out well. I never rolled a truck – though I had it up on two wheels a couple of times. And, I quickly learned you need to dump your load slowly. It took Tracy Buford and me at least 20 minutes to scoop out the back of the truck once so I could put the hoist back down.
I drove Mike Hayden during the ’86 Campaign for governor. I mostly did okay. There was no body damage on any of the vehicles we used. I did back over a telephone box with a mobile home in Mark Frame’s front yard while touring southwest Kansas. And, there was the time I knocked over several cones along a construction site. But, only once the whole summer did Mike say, “I think I’ll drive.”
My dad helped me buy a Dodge Daytona my sophomore year of college. That was good news for Scott Focke. I quit asking to borrow his Charger. I had a lot of trouble with Scott’s car. I was used to driving a stick shift. Scott’s car had no clutch but a really big brake pedal. My left foot hit that more than once. Apparently, you push down on a clutch a lot harder than on a brake. My passengers were luckiest if their seatbelts were fastened.
The Daytona got its share of scrapes – but mostly on the undercarriage, so it didn’t really show. I was driving a gal home from a date one night near Glenn Frame’s apartment. It was a winding road. I thought I’d show her what the Daytona could do. We went right over the curbs. Twice. The new CV joint set me back a bit. And, I didn’t have a second date.
I was only embarrassed once. I called a tow truck to help me out one day because I’d stalled on my way to Clinton Lake near Lawrence. I’d over heated or something. The tow truck driver put a little gas in the tank and said, “That should help.”
I was beginning to think it was more than bad luck when Joni and I moved to Washington, DC. We were taking Tim Fitzgibbon, a grad school friend, home. We were driving south toward Lafayette Square. That’s the big park right across the street from the White House. It was dark. I didn’t realize my speed. I didn’t realize the park was so close. We went right over the sidewalk and on to the grass.
I did a quick u-turn, squeezed between a utility box and pole and was right back on the street. No harm. No foul. Tim turned to me a little ashen and said, “That’s some of the best and worst driving I’ve ever seen.”
I finally gave in and admitted I was a bad driver when Emma was one year old. Joni and I took Emma to Ireland. We rented a car and drove all over the country. Many of the roads were barely two lanes wide with thick hedges lining both sides. I drove. Joni and Emma rode in back.
One afternoon, Emma’s bottle fell off the front seat and onto the floor. I tried to grab it. I sat back up and saw a bus coming straight toward us. The hedge seemed like our best option.
Joni and Emma stayed at a bed and breakfast while I traveled with a tow truck to get a new car. The rental agent asked me what happened. “Apparently, I’m not a very good driver,” I said.
“I’ve never heard that one before,” she replied and then dutifully noted my comment in her notes.
The first time my Honda civic was nearly totaled was good luck – for me. A woman hit me at 10 miles an hour in a parking lot. She hit the car just right to wrinkle every quarter panel. Got to take out several years of door dings.
The second time I totaled my Honda civic was just dumb. I was driving when I shouldn’t have – late after being up many hours. I fell asleep and ran a red light. I injured a woman. Fortunately, she recovered. But it was wrong and unnecessary.
In the interest of time, I’ll spare the story of my most recent trip into the ditch. Let me just say a few words. East bound. Ice. Guard rail. Median. Guard rail. West bound. Really lucky. New truck.
It’s worked out for the best, really. Joni gets motion sickness very easily. She does best in a car best when she drives. She does. And, I get more time to read when we travel. Everyone’s happy.
Perhaps especially our insurance company.
“Some people say heaven is a place where everyone gets along all the time. That sounds really boring to me.”
My Dad said this to me in the last days of his life. Dad enjoyed life on earth very much. He liked the messiness just as much as when things were smooth. If it was interesting, he was interested.
That’s one reason my Dad enjoyed politics so much. He enjoyed the give and take. He found conflicting points of view to be more interesting than when everyone agreed.
Bob Dole was one of his favorite politicians. He admired Dole’s service to Kansas. But, he also enjoyed Dole’s acerbic sense of humor.
My Dad enjoyed cutting humor in general. He didn’t enjoy in your face trash talk. But he did enjoy pointed critiques and satire. I don’t know that he enjoyed Don Rickles very much. But, he found Bob Newhart very entertaining.
One of his favorite authors was Joseph Heller. He would laugh and laugh when he read Catch-22. He was one of the few people who read Heller’s other books, too.
He enjoyed the company of people whose sense of humor was prickly and off-color, people who pointed out hypocrisies in society – his brother John, Bob Day and KU and lifelong friend Al Frame. He enjoyed getting these friends riled up. There’s nothing he enjoyed more than when Al got on roll. Dad was a wonderful audience laughing as Al beat the proverbial horse senseless.
As Dad entered the last weeks of his life, we had the inevitable conversations. “Who would you like to speak at your funeral,” we eventually asked.
Among his responses he said, “And, Al Frame if he promises to offend someone. I wouldn’t want some boring talk.”
Al did not offend at Dad’s memorial service. Instead, he talked about “Small town friendships. The only kind I know. In small towns,” Al explained, “We see each other every day. So we form friendships based on real familiarity.”
Al went on to say, “It does not matter what religious beliefs we may have or what political beliefs we may have. In a small town, what matters most is the friendship itself.”
Al took the occasion of my Dad’s memorial service to remind us all where we should focus our attention. We should focus on the care and affection we have for one another rather than our disagreements. It is this attitude and these types of friendships that enable people like my Dad and Al to say, “I’ve had a good life.”
In an effort to not completely disappoint our family, and honor my Dad’s request to offend, the night before Dad’s memorial service, Al’s son Mark sent us an email. The email contained the text of John Cleese’s eulogy for Graham Chapman. Mark attached a note, “Dad (Al) plans to say something like this.”
I laughed thinking of the many late night conversations among Creightons and Frames. My Dad would have laughed, too.
The following video contains much love and affection and, please be warned, a few curse words.