This happened in the summer of 1955.
We had a 1950 Ford and we were moving from McNary, Arizona back to Arkansas, so Dad could finish a planer mill there.
We were driving all day and night towing a trailer. We were in New Mexico that night and my mom had put a bunch of blankets
and quilts into the floor of the backseat area for my brother to sleep on. My sister was in the rear seat and I had my usual place
in the back window shelf. It was getting on into the early hours of midnight or so when I smelled something burning. I looked up
toward the front of the car to see if my dad was smoking, but he wasn't. So I yelled out to mom, "What's burning?" We all looked
around the car to see if one of dad's cigarettes had caught something on fire. Just then my brother jumped up from the floor and
yelled, "my bed's on fire!" Immediately dad swung the car off the road and got everyone out and started to pulling the quilts and
blankets out of the car. Sure enough, the blanket on the bottom was smoldering and the quilt was singed. Just about the time he
got them out of the car and onto the ground the blanket burst into flames. Probably from being swung through the air. Dad began
stomping it out and soon the excitement was over. Mom put some water on them and we checked to make sure they weren't on
fire. Then dad buried them in the dirt and he then looked to see what started them to burn. The floorboard of the car was absolutely
hot on that one side. Dad looked under the car and noticed that the muffler was also located right there. So he put some water on
the floor there and got it cooled down enough so that my brother could put his feet back on the floor. We took a break for a few
minutes, everybody had to pee after that calamity. So to get everyone calmed down mom made us a sandwich and we ate. We
then got back into the car and restarted the trip.
The next day about 9:00 a.m. we were near White Sands and we were all awake looking for a café to get some breakfast. Dad
noticed that there was some kind of slow down up ahead and the traffic was going slowly. He put on the brakes and began to
slow, when there was this god awful crash in the back of the car. I was in the back window, as usual, and all I remember was being
ejected into the air, hitting the top of the front seat, and winding up in the floor under the dash, looking back at my mom. Then I saw
dad struggling with the steering wheel, my sister screaming, and my mom reaching for me, but unable to get me. Then everything
stopped and it was all quiet. My mom looked at me and asked if I was okay? I said yes. Then she looked around at the back and
saw that my sister and brother were okay. By then my dad was out of the car going to the back. Then I heard yelling and my dad
cussing at someone. Then we all got out, all of us shaking and crying. I went around to the back of the car and it was all crumpled
up and the lid of the trunk was bent into the back window and had broken it out. I guess that was what sent me flying into the air.
What I saw then was truly unbelievable. The front of trailer was sitting in the trunk area. The tongue of the trailer was under the car
and bent into a U.
I then went back to the rear of the trailer and there...the front end of a new Cadillac was sitting in the middle of the trailer, and the
tires on the trailer were blown out and the rims were pushed into the pavement and they were bent inward at the top. I looked back
at the car and there were two men there. My dad had one on the hood and was hitting him. The other was trying to pull on him and
was yelling to stop and settle down. The other guy was just taking the beating. Soon dad stopped and everything quieted down.
One of the guys was laying against the car and the other was talking to dad. Then the police came. After a while, they handcuffed
the one guy (driver) and put him in the police car. (Later I found out he was drunk)
After what seemed forever, a tow truck came and loaded the trailer onto another trailer, and we went into this town. Many hours later,
mom took us to a motel and we went to sleep. (I found out a few years ago that the passenger guy gave mom a hundred dollars to
cover expenses for everything)
The next day, dad come to pick us up at the motel. He and a mechanic guy had fixed the rear of the car, good enough, to get us to
Arkansas. We salvaged the trailer stuff and put it all in this little trailer from UHaul and went on to Arkansas. We were there for about
3 months, when dad got a call to come back to McNary and install a new planer for the mill that he had worked at before. So were
loaded up again and heading toward McNary when the engine in the car started smoking. We pulled into a town and dad checked it
over and found that the transmission had been knocked crooked from the wreck, and it burned up the rear bearing on the crank shaft.
So we pulled into a restaurant and parked while dad called the insurance company, and they sent a telegram money order to pay for
the loss of the car, and we went to a used car lot and bought a 1955 Ford Fairlane. The cool thing was that my sister and I got to
pick out a stuffed animal as a gift. So we decided on this black and white 3 foot tall Panda. We called him Andy Panda.
Attached is two pictures of us back in McNary with the '55 and Andy Panda.
If you want to read about the other wreck in the '55 Ford, look up my stories on here and read about it.