"Tell about any ancestors that you know about: name, when they lived and any family stories about them."
Well, I suppose my grandfather would count as an ancestor. His name was Fred Bryan Beede and he was born in 1900 and died in 1976 of cancer. I was told that he started smoking at the age of eighteen and, when I knew him, he would sit me on his lap and tell me never to smoke and promised me that, if I did, he would haunt me from the grave. He wasn't one to promise things idly, so I always believed him.
The story I remember best about Grampa Fred is one my husband doesn't like me to tell. So, if you're reading this, dearheart, now would probably be a good time to stop. It's a story that use to be my very favorite bedtime story. Grampa use to tell it to my mother when she was a girl.
This happened before my mother was born and, at the time, Grampa and his family were living in Drewsey, Oregon and he was working for the road crew. In those days, most of the roads were gravel and, if any of you have driven on a gravel road, you'll know that, given time and enough cars driving on it, eventually gravel roads get to be rutted, bumpy and full of muddy places, so Harney County had hired a group of men and a grader to smooth them out again. This was the road crew. When the road crew were working the road, the crew would usually be raking the gravel out of the ditches while the grader went up one side of the section of road they were working and down the other, creating a bump in the middle of the section that was called a berm, which would be smoothed out on the third pass. A person could usually tell where the road crew was because the grader would always send up such a cloud of dust that you could usually see it from several miles off.
Anyway, Grampa Fred always use to carpool up to work with an old cattleman by the name of Shorty Jensen. The thing you want to know about Shorty is that speed scared him and, to Shorty, anything over 25 miles an hour was SPEED. You should also know that this was well before the automatic gear shift or seat belts, for that matter. In fact, most people usually drove around in Model A or Model T Fords.
So, in this particular occasion, Shorty was driving his pickup truck, as usual, there was another man named Mr. King in the passenger seat with his left foot propped up on his right big toe and Grampa Fred was sitting between them in front of the gear shift. The road crew were working the road half way between Burns and Vale. As I've mentioned before, the road crew wasn't hard to find because of the grader. Unfortunately, this was a very hot, dry day where there was no wind and the crew had already started working. So the cloud of dust that the grader threw up completely covered it and it was impossible to tell that the grader had already started back down the section. As a result, not to mention the fact that the berm prevented him from swerving, Shorty had a head-on collision with the grader.
All three men were injured in the crash. Shorty broke his arm against the steering wheel and Mr. King broke his right big toe. The man who suffered the most damage, I'm sorry to say, was my Grampa Fred, who broke his leg against the gearshift knob just above the knee, hit the top of his head on the rearview mirror, and went right through the windshield and then back again, receiving a nasty cut to his neck that, had it been any lower, would have killed him outright (at this point, he would always show my mother his scars. Mom says he had a long one on the top of his head beginning on his forehead and a jagged one just under his chin on the left side and about an inch in front of his jugular vein).
So, anyway, Grampa was unconscious and obviously very badly hurt and the nearest hospitals were 50 miles West to Burns and 90 miles East to Ontario. Their only means of transportation was Shorty's pickup, which was smashed. Just when they were wondering what they were going to do, a big Oakland drove up, heading east, and the driver stopped to ask what was going on and if he could help. The man, whose name neither I nor Grampa Fred ever learned, had just taken delivery of his brand-new car in Portland and hadn't had a chance to really let it out, yet, and see what it could do. Luckily, the man's car had a nice large back seat. So, the foreman got into the back seat with Grampa Fred and Shorty Jensen sat in front with the driver, because he knew the roads and had to go to the hospital anyway to have his arm set.
When Grampa came to in the hospital, Shorty came and visited him and told him the whole story, after which he said, "There were times that I wanted to kill you. Because every time you'd moan, the driver would call out, 'Hang on, buddy! I'll get you there!' and he'd step on the gas." Huntington Canyon, a very twisty road with two little towns in it, lay between Ontario and where the road crew was and Shorty always swore that, by the time those towns knew the group of them were coming, they'd already gone past. Mom says it took them an hour to an hour and a half to drive 90 miles over roads that weren't, at the time, up to present day standards. Shorty said they went through Vale with the horn blowing.
My favorite part of that story has always been the part where the driver yells out "Hang on, buddy! I'll get you there!" and steps on the gas. The rest of the story is as gruesome as anything I've ever seen on TV, but that part is funny and that's why I like it. I've always wondered who the man with the Oakland was. If I knew him, I'd sure like to thank him because there's a good chance he saved my Grampa's life. So, without him, I probably wouldn't be here.