COLLISION OFF ROUTE-48 AT HARVEL
Dedicated all officers with The Illinois State Police
Located in Central Illinois off HW-48 between the villages of Raymond and Morrisonville, Harvel is surrounded by some of the most productive farmland in the
world. Only a small minority curse or swear in public. A better educational environment than from whence my spouse and I originated, this writer resided there
for many years without being knocked from my feet. Our small house, one of oldest in
the village,(1870) was spaceful; placed on a lot approximately 100X100. That's not
miles or inches-that's feet. We had three children-all girls.
Property of a prosperous railroad, this old structure was used as a lumberyard for several years. Its structural unsoundness was among other reasons for the owners
of the lumber and hardware supply abandoning it.
Following their vacating the premises, its residents included a ghost of sorts, a
wild dog, and a bobcat family. My dog and I lived and worked in the old building for a time, and it is a frightening place at night-would be for most people. Being there was not frightening to me. It was necessary that I abandon the place during the most frigid weather of an Illinois winter. A case of pneumonia ended my interest
in spending my time there.
Sharing a small heated room within the former "Storm Lumber and Supply Building," my dog suddenly arose from a resting position to her feet. The hair on her back bristled as a wild thing. Growling viciously and exposing her teeth, she must have received a pat on her head from a presence. The animal immediately surrendered to her former resting position. "It's alright," she seemed to gesture. Both she and I had seen the light, and here is the photo-image of what stood before us.
Text to be edited as time becomes available
COLLISION ON ROUTE 48 AT HARVEL
On a snowy day during mid-November of the year 1976, Gladys performed a special favor for me. She was not just a cook at Waggoner Grade School. She also served as my savior. She might well have saved me from serious injury or even death in the bloodiest kind of way- an automobile collision involving a large bus. Blizzard conditions had begun to take shape. In excess of twelve inches of new snow had fallen on Iowa and Northern Missouri, and that snowstorm had begun to kiss Illinois' mid-section. It was to score a direct hit into the center of Montgomery County. That's where I lived during that day and time.
Arriving at Waggoner Grade School and expecting a full-day of school, the two of us were monitoring the lists of school cancellations broadcast by WSMI Radio,
Litchfield. By 9:A.M. four inches of that white substance had accumulated, but Panhandle Unit #2 had not been included on a long list of cancellations. As Gladys and I engaged in
friendly conversation in the school kitchen, we finally did hear that classes had
been cancelled for that day for Panhandle Unit Schools and St. Isidore.
Snow commenced to fall heavily, and the wind had begun to cause drifting.
Exiting that building to clear accumulated snow from my vehicle, Gladys dressed in her winter coat. Using her kitchen broom, she swept snow from the vehicles' front and rear- sweeping snow from lights, reflectors, and signals as I worked on windshields and auto-body. "Be careful on
your way home," she said. And off I drove.
Exiting the school grounds and the village of Waggoner, I proceeded onto a South-bound service road that had, at one time,been historic Route-66. Three miles on that road and a left-turn onto an overpass were required in order to access Route 48 -East to Raymond. At sometime prior to that turn, I recall meeting a snowplow belonging to the highway department. The snowplow was headed North on a service road that had at one time served as Old Route 66.
Exiting that Southbound service road from Waggoner and exiting by that overpass, I was on Route 48 East. Continuing slowly and carefully, little other traffic was encountered.
Weather conditions were rapidly deteriorating. Snow had begun to drift, and the wind was coming in brisky gusts. My home in Harvel, located three miles North, should have been an uneventful journey, but
there was soon to be a "monkey on my back."
Glancing toward the rear often by use of the vehicle mirrors, barely one mile
stood between my Harvel destination and me. Noticing a Trailways Silver Eagle passenger bus
approaching from a good distance behind, its presences was not a source of anxiety.
Busdrivers are normal people, well-trained, and those kinds of buses have airbrakes. At least one-hundred yards separated him and me. But as I began to slow for a left-turn and had engaged turn-signal, that busdriver began to close distance, accelerating in excess of the 35mph
speed limit. Anticipating a safe turn onto Harvel mainstreet, I had intended to negotiate a left-turn by simply pumping the brake-pedal; so as to avoid any chance of skidding on the pavement.
Wham! My vehicle was struck in its rearend by the Trailways Silver Eagle. That section changed to an immediate, mangled, and totaled mess. Impacted by the sheer force of that monster- bus, my Plymouth Duster was knocked sideways in such a position that its passenger-side became vulnerable and exposed within the middle of Route 48, Main
Then came another "Wham!" The bus had broadsided my automobile, forcing the car by impact directly into the right lane of that highway. It was a perfect strike. My vehicle had been struck at point near the driver's side door, but it was not necessary that I be excavated. Its door would open, and I was able to exit the Plymouth and approach the driver of that Trailways Silver Eagle.
As the operator of that Duster, I could have continued on and have reached Morrisonville without any steering adjustment. In a sense, a miracle had occurred. I was uninjured; other than a possible minor whiplash that afflicted me several weeks later.
Making a turn-a-round at "Harvel Truck Terminal," I returned to the scene of that mishap. Less than five minutes lapsed.
An officer with "Illinois State Police Accident Investigation Squad" arrived. Ticketed was the busdriver; but another odd coincidence entered into that scenario. A number of passengers aboard that Silver Eagle were Montgomery County citizens whom I recognized.
Grateful to Gladys Bollman, cook for Waggoner Grade School, for her assistance in the clearing of snow from the head and tail-sections of my vehicle and her words
upon my exit, "be careful on your way home, George."
One duty performed by the Illinois State Policeman was to check functions of rear turn signals, brake lights, and reflectors. All worked normally despite a collision that had totaled much of my
automobile. I admonish the thought that Gladys cast an "omen" bearing good fortune upon my return from Waggoner to Harvel on that cold and snowy day during November of 1976.
Although totaled there, that vehicle was repaired, and this former teacher and
present author, continued to use the Plymouth Duster to drive back and forth to work
within the Panhandle School District. It was a non-luxury machine and good on fuel
One recurring theme within the works of William Shakespear, John Steinbeck, and
throughout American and world history are the villians and acts of betrayal. One interpretation resulting from that auto-bus collision is that the unsafe operation of a vehicle on a roadway with the intention of causing personal injury and property damage places any driver into "the villian role." Such acts are violations of "The Golden Rule." (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.)
YOU CAN FIGHT IT, BUT YOU'LL LOSE MORE THAN YOU GAIN.
Snowy days in December appear to be the ides chosen for personal misfortune involving my operation of motor vehicles in Montgomery County, Illinois. Or was it November? That's been too long ago. The year 1986 was the commencement of separation from my wife. We'd been married since 1969. Safe driving citations had been mailed to me by the Secretary of State in several instances. My record spoiled there on Route 48 at Main Street, Harvel,(collision involving a Trailways Silver Eagle bus) I'd met with trouble on the highway despite taking special precautions.
It was during another snowy day that this former teacher was returning to Raymond
from Farmersville. That was not a blizzard but just an inch or two that had sprung from a weak low pressure system.
A quick blast of Arctic air from the Northwest caused that little snow to freeze on the roadways and stick to the pavement. Requiring some adjustment of speed within the village of Raymond, I made a left turn
off Route 48 onto the road running west by Preacher Bailey's Methodist Church. Two blocks away was the small mobilehome that served as my residence following the separation of my mate and me.
Approaching a stopsign at the end of that first block, I obeyed it and proceeded
slowly and cautiously through that intersection. But a local mechanic and service station owner was testing the brakes of a pickup belonging to a Harvel farmer. Using the 25MPH school zone, he was rapidly accelerating. Evidence is that he had emerged from an alley behind his business. He may have reached a speed of 50MPH
before he collided broadside with my Plymouth Reliant as I attempted to cross that narrow street after the stop
sign. The brakes on that pickup had not engaged properly, but he was stopped by the wreck he had with me.
Investigated by the local Raymond Police Department, this writer sat in the back
seat of the squad car and listened to communications from the Sheriff's Department in the city of Hillsboro. "He has two DWI convictions," said the dispatcher. "Is he
drinking now?" That ended the communications with those people. The radio went dead.
Issued a ticket for "failure to yield at a stop intersection," I was told, "You can fight it, but you'll lose more than you gain." I allowed them to do that to me.
Paying a seventy-five dollar fine in the Montgomery County Court, I failed to act toward a need for justice for reason that the drunken driver was married and expecting a newborn at any time. He was intoxicated, and he would have suffered great harm if I had done differently.
My vehicle, suffering extensive damage, was again declared totaled by an Iowa
vehicle insurer, but I continued to use it for driving back and forth to my teaching job. Mechanically, the Plymouth Reliant was still dependable. It just didn't look good.
That man who collided with me is in heaven, and so is the police officer who wrote me a ticket for that ill-fated event. I believe it.
The mechanic continued in business for a time, but volume of trade within many
small villages often forces needed enterprises to close. The groceries at Waggoner and Harvel closed. The schools closed in both of those villages. So did all but one gasoline station. That
has happened throughout this nation.
This writer survived. What will this December bring?
"THE CARB KIT" is posted separately on an "All Stories" page.(January 4, 2009)
"Important Theft Incident, Oil Sending Unit"
Regardless of what area one chooses to live, certain individuals may resort to
forms of theft, mischief, and underworld type deals. Sometimes those practices are
a result of such contracts as, "A man over in Newdale cracked the block of his 1986 Duster. Look around and see if you can find one for him, and I'll drive there and put it in for him." Having
no doubt that those are practices in other nations, that is something one comes to expect."
"There's something wrong with my Duster," I commented to Bill, "It's overheating
"It's your oil-sending unit, George. A man over there needed one. He crawled under your vehicle, removed yours, and put his bad unit in. You'll have to buy a new one and install it. They're not expensive. I'll show you where it goes. It's that small plug right under there.
The mechanic and wrecker-service at Farmersville was honest. Making an effort to
practice the concept of brotherhood, if he could handle the job, he would help; but at times, he was too busy to take the job. That's the kind of people others seek. The cows provided me assistance in several instances.