This minor three-car wreck near the corner of Independence and Henderson is interesting not because of the crash, but for what’s going on around it. This shot, for example, shows E.C. Robinson Lumber Company in the background. A quick peek at Google Earth shows that the main building is still there, but some of the ones behind it are gone. (Click on the photo to make it large enough to see the details.)
There’s a Greyhound bus parked at the bus depot, and a sign for Budget Laundry & Cleaners is behind it. There’s a boy’s bike with fenders and a rear rack propped up on its kickstand on the sidewalk. On the rack is a baseball mitt. The railroad tracks hadn’t been removed yet.
I apologize for the quality of the film: this frame has some fog flare on the left, and some of the other shots have more spots and flaws that I felt like fixing.
Wrecks as a spectator sport
Cape Girardeans love their wrecks. The sound of a crash will bring folks out to enjoy the excitement. I have to admit that it was a family ritual to swing by James’ Wrecker on the way home from church to see who had come to grief over the weekend. Mother, of course, could never resist the siren call (literally) of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances. When I come home I have to tell her that I don’t have to chase those flashing lights in my retirement. I think that disappoints her.
Even I was shocked, though, when I worked a car being pulled out of a river in the wee hours of the morning in Ohio. Water was still pouring out of it and the driver, a young woman who had served me a spaghetti dinner at a local diner that evening was still behind the wheel. I have no idea where a crowd could have come from at that hour of the morning, but the capper was when someone lifted a toddler up so he could see inside the car. THAT busted even Cape standards.
Probably happened in 1964
The tag on this car says 1965, and some other photos on the roll were of a football game with a plane towing a banner urging attendees to vote for AuH2O in 1964. That leads me to believe that the fenderbender was in the fall of 1964.
I see my station wagon
I see my 1959 Buick LaSabe station wagon off on the right. (I mention that only because there is an active group of collectors who search for any photo or mention of that vehicle they can find.) The body language of the spectators is fascinating.
Curator Jessica and I are considering doing a workshop at the Athens County Historical Society Museum to encourage local photographers to both scour their old photos for ones that have historical significance and to encourage them to document their surroundings on an ongoing basis. As in this case, a wreck that wasn’t even worth putting in the paper contains elements that show what life was like in Cape in the mid-1960s.