The summer of 1956 was a rather relaxed one for me. I was between semesters at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and working for the Wyman Roberts Funeral Home in San Augustine, Texas. At twenty years of age, I had already worked for a funeral home in Nacogdoches, and an ambulance service in Waco when not attending classes. Although young, I did have considerable experience.
One warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, I was alone at the funeral home sitting on the front porch just watching traffic pass by. I saw two teenaged girls, whom I knew, drive by in a brand new 1956 Oldsmobile. We waved “hello” to each other, and I went back to my studying the people passing by.
About five minutes later, the emergency telephone rang. I answered it and a voice at the other end of the line said, “Get an ambulance out to the circle right away. There’s a bad car wreck just happened.” In 1956 the funeral home not only provided funerals for the deceased, it also provided emergency ambulance service, which was a very common practice.
I raced to the ambulance, which was parked in a garage behind the funeral home, and took off for the circle. The “circle” was the intersection of two major highways, State Highway 21 and U.S. Highway 96. The traffic engineers who designed this circle must have done it on a bad day. It never handled the merging traffic well as most drivers had no idea how to negotiate around it.
It was a short run to the circle, and I was there in approximately three minutes. Upon arrival, I saw a loaded log truck in the middle of the circle median. The trailer of large logs was on its side on top of the new Oldsmobile that had driven by the funeral home only minutes before. “This is going to be a bad one, I thought to myself as I stopped the ambulance facing south on US 96.
Exiting the ambulance and rushing up to the vehicles, I noted that the heavy load of logs had mashed the car almost flat from the middle of the car on back to the trunk. Miraculously, the two teen aged girls were not injured, but were trapped inside their vehicle. The doors were crushed and could not be opened. Fearing that the chains holding the load of logs might break and fall on all of us, I told the girls that we had to get out through the right front passenger window. Several of us managed to get them outside their vehicle, and both were not injured in any way.
I told the girls, “Get in the ambulance and I will drive you to the funeral home and you can call your parents from there.” So they got into the ambulance and I drove off with them. In the mean time, the driver’s mother, who owned the new Oldsmobile, had heard that her daughter had been involved in an accident. She got in her other car and rushed to the circle.
Upon her arrival at the scene, there were no girls there. She asked a policeman where he daughter was and he told her, “Oh, they have taken her to the funeral home.” She immediately fainted.