The war had just started. But my son being arrested on his 16th birthday for driving his new jeep ‘off road’ on the local ballfield put me on full wartime alert. My wife, however, was still not accepting the start of hostilities. To her this was just an ‘incident’ – isolated and not particularly ominous. For you history buffs, kind of like British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain proclaiming ‘peace in our time’ right before Hitler invaded Poland to start World War II.
My son was grounded from all vehicles except for his bike. His summer had ended before it started. His outstanding financial obligations had grown exponentially due to the sentencing handed down following his ‘arrest’.
He got off with a slap on the wrist. His mother was his defense attorney. It was her idea in the first place, so she couldn’t let him swing.
Anyway, he needed money so he needed more work. One of my wife’s best friends offered some yard work. (Apparently I was the only one who didn’t feel sorry for him. Well, neither did his siblings. The next in line realized the Jeep was slipping out of his grasp.)
The job was ½ mile away. Apparently my wife felt that was beyond the distance a 16 year old boy could safely ride a bike.
So she told him he could take the jeep. But only to the job.
He took the jeep. But he didn’t get to the job.
He took the long way. He wanted to drive by the scene of the crime. The ballfield/dirt raceway.
And while he was cruising by, looking over the place where it all started, he ran into a telephone pole.
I got the call from my paralegal who told me to call the Webster Groves police about an accident with my son.
I immediately assumed – or rather fervently hoped – it was the other attorneys in the office joking with me since they had heard the whole story about the ‘arrest’.
It wasn’t. The same officer was calling to tell me my son had hit a telephone pole. He had his seat belt on, thank God, and was fine.
The jeep had $8000 in damage. The telephone poll had $1000 in damage. The telephone pole was declared the winner.
The first driver in my family had driven twice. Arrested the first time. $9000 accident the second time.
In the disciplinary proceedings that swiftly followed, my wife was disqualified from acting as defense attorney this time, seeing how she was a co-defendant.
She got off. And she was unrepentant.
My son was sentenced to consecutive time on the grounding he was already serving and even worse, a new car.
Called my dad. Asked him to find me a ‘clean car’.
At that point my son knew how this was going to end. He even announced he wouldn’t drive it. Everybody knew what ‘clean car’ meant to my dad. He delivered – 14 year old Chevy Citation. Fire engine red, AM radio, roll up windows. $2000.
It also ended up against a pole. But that is a different story in a coming chapter.
Jeep was sold for $9000 after repairs.
I still look back on those days with fond recollection. Before it got really bad. The war had just started. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. My first son was not done yet. But he wasn’t the only one of my kids to make it into the hall of fame.
To be continued.