It was not by our choice but a lot of growing up went on in our home the summer and fall of 1969. We were as active as ever in church. I was teaching a kindergarten class of seven little boys and girls. They were a handful. During the church hour I played the organ so I was either up front at the organ during songs or in the back row with Larry during the service.
I had volunteered to make candy as our contribution to the Christmas baskets for our church shut-ins. These folks either lived in rest homes or just couldn’t get out to church and mingle with other folks.
I had a dear friend, Carol Martin, who had given me several great candy recipes and taught me how to follow them. The three candies I chose for the baskets were English Toffee, Caramels, and Chocolate covered coconut balls. They were my three favorites. I spent a whole day working on each recipe. When I loaded my trays of candy into my car they were beautiful.
It was about 9:30 on a December saturday morning when I headed out to the church. I had plenty of time. We were meeting at 10:00 to sort and fill baskets with all the different goodies the ladies had made. I was so proud of the beautiful candy I could hardly wait for everyone to see what I’d made. I was driving through an older section of Turlock, obviously paying too much attention to the trays of candy on my back seat and not enough attention to my driving, when I heard a loud crunch noise and the back of my car flew sideways.
I had been hit by another car! I had just passed thru a four way corner with no stops signs. Someone else had too and we collided. I could tell my candy had scattered a little by the sound of some of it hitting the floor but I didn’t look. The other driver, a fellow about my dad’s age, and I both got out of our cars. We exchanged insurance information and he asked me if I wanted to call the police to report our accident. I didn’t think we had a choice so I blurted out yes.
Together we went to the house we were directly in front of and asked to use the phone. The other driver called the police and, seeing I was very upset, asked if I’d like to call my husband.
“Yes,” I said. “I would like to call him.” I took the phone and just stared at it. The fellow asked what my phone number was and said he’d dial it for me. I told him I never called myself and couldn’t think of my phone number. Next he asked if I’d like to look it up in the phone book. I said I would but I couldn’t think of my husband’s name! He gave me such a strange look and I felt so totally embarrassed we both began to laugh. The owner of the house started laughing. The police officer who had just arrived heard me and he started laughing too.
Somehow all the laughter made me feel better and I remembered Larry is my husband. I still had to find our number in the phone book.
When I told Larry I was in an accident his first question was if I’d be hurt. When I said I was alright he asked if the car had been hurt. I told him I thought there was a dent in the back over the wheel. I told him where I was. He said he was on his way and hung up the phone.
Everyone was still there when Larry arrived about ten minutes later. He looked at me and gave me a sideways smile as he walked to the rear of our car. “Yes, I’d say it has a dent alright Joyce, I could get into the trunk without opening it if I wanted to!” He was smiling at me like a cat would smile at a trapped mouse. He never raised his voice or got mad.
When the reports were finished and we were ready to leave Larry asked me if I was okay to drive. I said yes. He tossed me his pickup key as he climbed into our car. He told me to stay right behind him all the way home. I did. I had to stare at that smashed trunk at every stop sign!
When we got home and looked into my car I saw three days of work splattered all over the back seat and floor. I had forgotten all about the candy and the church baskets. I gathered every piece of candy and took it into the house.
I called the church to let the ladies know I wasn’t just late and I wouldn’t be coming to help at all. I felt like I’d really let them down. This experience was just one of the many times we made plans only to have “life” change them. There was a little bit of sand mixed in the candy from the floor of the car so I could no longer give it for the baskets. Larry and I ate it over the next few weeks. There was no way I was going to throw it away!