Mike Petersen of Raleigh, N.C., submitted this sobering reminder to avoid drinking and driving. Although the accident happened nearly 60 years ago, the message is just as relevant today.
“Attached are pictures from a car wreck in the late afternoon of September 26, 1957. It occurred on Day Road in rural northern Indiana. The driver of the [1948 Buick Super convertible] was drunk and hit the 1955 Ford as it was slowing for a stop sign. The drunk had to be restrained in the ambulance and walked out of the hospital that night. The driver of the Ford was on his way home from work. He sustained two broken ribs from the steering wheel and the ignition key went into his knee. He had just enough time to raise his arms in front of his face which saved his eyes from shrapnel. He spent 5 days in hospital. The driver of the Ford (my father) was a decorated WWII combat veteran and had escaped death many times. He had finished college on the GI bill and had a wife and two small children. It is a miracle the injuries were not more severe. Both vehicles were total losses.
The drunk had no insurance. My father had to pay $20 deductible on the $110.45 hospital bill. Grand total for my father’s medical bills was $187.45.
Emergency room exam $12.00
Hospital admission $10.00
Fractured ribs (2) $30.00
5 days in hospital $70.00
Emergency room $8.25
Surgical dressings $1.35
X-ray pictures $14.50
Follow on office calls (2) $8.00
The entire hospital bill was on a single piece of paper [measuring] 5-1/2 x 7 inches. Times have changed!
Update: My father got his BS from Purdue in 1950 and his MS from Purdue in 1956 with help from the GI bill. He had been working as the head chemist at Adams and Westlake since the summer of 1956. He had purchased the 1955 Ford earlier in 1957. It was a trade-in from a guy who was waiting for his new car to be delivered. The fellow always took delivery “off the transporter” and was fastidious about maintenance. The 1955 Ford was a “cream puff”. On the way home in the 1955 Ford I suggested we get gasoline but dad thought we could make it to his regular station. I do not think we traveled more than 2 miles from the dealership before the car ran out of gas.
The 1955 was replaced with a 1956 Ford Customline with the optional Thunderbird 312. As I recall it had been owned by a young man who went into the armed forces. I always thought that engine had been modified – the car really moved. Dad thought it was stock. At the same time my grandfather (my father’s father) owned a 1955 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer with the Hemi V8. This was the only time in their lives these two fellows owned high-performance vehicles, and they owned them at the same time.