Cab Chases and Kraft Caramels

 

What? He didn’t hit me hard enough the first time? He has to try again?

The yellow taxicab seemed to chase me the rest of the way home. I was frightened and my left leg hurt. The cab hadn’t hit me hard but it hit me hard enough, believe me! Why wouldn’t the cab driver let me be?

It was Mom’s first day at her nursing job at Heinz factory in our little town of Wallaceburg (population 11,000). Yup, first day back after a hiatus to raise six children. Five of us attended school now; the baby, Sara was being watched by an aunt for a bit. Mom was on the 3-11 shift.  

Previous to Mom’s re-entry into the work force, she’d walk me to kindergarten class as well as pick me up afterwards. I detested school. Lingering memories persist of crying after being dropped off to my classroom with the tables and little chairs. What a pain I must have been.

Anyways, I loved walking with Mom. It was exciting when she’d tell me a new Dr. Seuss book had arrived in the mail, and awaited me at home. I’ve a feeling the other siblings didn’t get books in the mail. Maybe, it was done to encourage me to read and speak more as I was a late talker. Whatever the reason, those books instilled in me a lifelong love of reading.

With Mom working, things were changed up. The two siblings, Nina and Marty, who attended my St. Elizabeth grade school, were put in charge of walking me home. To walk approximately four blocks: John Avenue which turned into two long blocks of Dauw Avenue, then crossed what seemed like a major highway, Dufferin Avenue (a busy main street); leading into Warwick Avenue, and on to my home stretch of Turnbull Avenue.

Brrrrrrring! The school day ended.  We were finally dismissed.  I began my trek home. I don’t recall if I searched for my older siblings or whether they never showed up for their latest task. All I know is I was getting the heck out of school and going home. I sprinted the first, short block of John Avenue and abruptly encountered a problem. How do I cross the road without Mom?

Mind you, there were plenty of schoolchildren walking in the vicinity. But, I was alone in my decision of what to do next. My five year old brain didn’t get the importance of looking in both directions. I simply dashed across the street. Well, that was my intent. I actually darted into the path of a taxicab!

My left leg was injured. But it didn’t stop me. Nope. I just kept on running. And the darn cab, it kept following me. Like the video game, Carmageddon, whereby the cab receives bonus points for running me down again.

I made it to the difficult “highway” crossing of Dufferin Avenue. The crossing guard was my buddy, an older man nicknamed Hungabunga. A supposedly African name for friendly man. Hungabunga was the sweetest old guy you could ever meet. Kind of like Santa Claus crossed with a loving grandfather. Hungabunga always carried Kraft caramels- not the no-name ones you can’t get the plastic wrapper off of – in his pockets for us schoolchildren. Later, when I had a paper route, his home was the last house on my route. I’d hang out in his garage where he’d play the cello. These days, I’m sure a young girl and an old man spending time together would be frowned upon but it was pure innocence back then. Music, companionship and Kraft caramels.

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Well, I don’t recall exactly how it happened but my flight from the cab ended when I met Hungabunga. Maybe the cab driver told him what happened. I’ve totally blurred it from my memory. The thought of getting into the vehicle that was trying to run me down was pretty traumatizing, you know!

Later, Mom called from work to inquire how everything was going at home. Imagine how shocked she was to hear I was at the hospital! I’d have quit then and there. But, Mom is tougher than me. I checked out fine at the hospital, by the way.

However, I did score a taxi ride to and from school for a week’s duration because of my sore leg.

This was the first of seven car accidents. My one accident where I was a pedestrian. There were two minor fender benders in parking lots, two more where I was a passenger and two hit-and-runs, where I was the victim.

Mom thought I should blog about these accidents. Mom’s been lucky. One accident recently in a lifetime of driving and she’s practically 90. Mom got hit in the church parking lot. Names, phone numbers and insurance information were exchanged. And, get this, the lady who hit her, showed up at Mom and Dad’s doorstep with an intimidating-looking family member to strongly “encourage’ Mom not to pursue the incident through their insurance.

Dad said he didn’t know what exactly that family thought they were going to do, but he and Mom “don’t scare easily”.  Good for them! Hey, when you’ve survived raising six kids, you’ve seen it all. You aren’t about to be scared off by bullies. Really, trying to intimidate senior citizens!  Stay strong, Mom and Dad!

 

 

 

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