The very first person to read my autobiography, “SEX WITH CHICKENS,” said to me, “You sure do hate jaywalkers, don’t you?” Me declaring war on jaywalkers was, perhaps, .01% of the book, but it impressed her a lot. There are several reasons why I hate the bastards; the #1 being that jaywalkers NEVER stop for pedestrians who are in the street legally. NEVER, unless forced to, by the likes of me. One time, on a beautiful late afternoon in Lake Tahoe, I was cruising eastbound (and down), on Highway 50, towards Nevada, in my taxi-cab when, what to my wondering eyes should appear? Standing in the absolute middle of the two-lanes-in-both-directions-with-a-2-way-left-turn-lane-in-the-middle, major transportation corridor, during what passed for ‘rush hour’ in South Lake Tahoe, was a visibly pregnant (about 7 1/2 months) nice looking young woman, pushing a baby stroller which, one could presume, contained a baby, standing in a clearly marked crosswalk, and NOBODY WAS STOPPING. I glanced over my right shoulder, to see if I could change lanes, cut the wheel HARD, and SLAMMED on the brakes. I straddled both lanes of traffic, stopping traffic back to the “Y.” NOBODY honked at me; they knew better than to fuck with an enraged MF like me. I sat there, along with 100 or so other cars, until she was safely on the sidewalk, then drove off. A sarcastic ‘tip of the hat’ to those wankers behind me: I don’t think there was a single rear-ender back there, which was amazing.
One time I was driving an ex-Nevada Highway Patrol cruiser, with two elderly couples in it, when about a dozen assholes stepped off the curb, about 50 feet away from a marked crosswalk, and commenced to jaywalk right in front of my taxi-cab. I immediately slammed the pedal to the metal, and aimed for the middle of the mob. That ex-cruiser had a 360 cid engine, with a 4-barrel that, when punched, sucks air like a mo-fo: WHOOSH. A red-lined engine, with a sucking carb, alerted those assholes that something was afoot. They all started screaming and running. It wasn’t even close; they all moved very fast. I noticed that there was a black couple in the mob who, I’m sure, believed that it was a “racist” thing and that I was targeting only them. No way, Ho-zay. A nice old lady, close to 80 years old, said to me, from the back seat, “Boy, young man, those people sure were asking to be killed.” I LOVE little old ladies, especially those who give me straight lines. I replied, “Yes, ma’am, and I’m the ANGEL OF DEATH.” Those folks (all four of them) laughed and cackled like they hadn’t done in, probably, decades.
Another time, in a different ex-police car, which had the same engine, I punched it and headed for the middle of a group of at least 30 people who were jaywalking, in a crosswalk, but against a red light. They all yelled, flipped me off, and ran like hell.
I almost ran over an asshole who stepped right in front of my moving cab. He might have been looking to make a bogus insurance claim. I slammed on the brakes, the cab stopping less than one foot away from the asshole. If there had been a push-bar on that cab, I would have hit him. I honked and he stood, right in front of the hood ornament, and gave me the finger. I had two even older couples in my cab, this time. I put the cab in park, turned off the waiting time on the meter, took off my seatbelt, picked up Mr. Crowbar off the floor, opened the door and got out. The jaywalker hadn’t moved. I looked back, in the cab and, I swear, all four of those geezers, none of whom had a sense of humor, were all clutching their chests, with their mouths wide open, gasping for air. I looked at the asshole, who looked like a deer in the headlights, then back at my passengers, and thought, “If I beat the shit out of this asshole, I’m going to have four cardiac arrests on my hands,” and got back in my cab, while the asshole sprinted across the street.
All these stories are just an introduction to my first encounter with an asshole jaywalker, whom I tried, with every atom in my body, to kill, after I gave him a sporting chance to save his life. 3 am, in the “dark” side of town, ADT car (POS ’63 Plymouth, 6-cylinder, 3-speed stick shift), 60 mph in a 25 zone, very wide street, nigger steps into the street on my left. The moment I see the asshole, I do several things; hit the high beams, downshift to second gear, jam the pedal to the floor, and aim my hood ornament at him like a rifle sight. The darkie stopped, almost turned back, which he should have done, but decided to cross the street anyway. As he moved, I moved, keeping that hood ornament centered on him. He quickly was running full-tilt, for the other side of the street, a good 50 feet away, as I was bearing down on him, maybe 200 feet away. That POS car topped out at 58 mph, in second gear. If I had left it in 3rd, I would have hit him before he made it halfway across. As he neared the parked cars, on the right, which offered him protection, I lined up about 6 inches from the parked cars and continued to race at him. I would have hit him if he had not dived, like Superman, for the parked cars. My car passed by the soles of his shoes, doing 58 mph, missing him by about 6 inches. I shifted to 3rd, turned off the high beams, flipped the mirror to the “day” position, and looked back. He didn’t get up. He must have done a face-plant on the asphalt or a header into the curb. Fuck him; if I would have hit him, I would have kept going. No witnesses and, if he had lived, absolutely no description of the car. Yes, I TRULY hate jaywalkers.
The F-3 Demon was the worst POS airplane that anybody has ever made. It was grossly overweight and horribly underpowered. The guys who flew them had to fool themselves that they were “fighter jocks.” A Sopwith Camel could take a Demon, in a dog fight. In the late ’50s, the use of computers to design airplanes was started. The engineers thought, “Let’s run the complete plans, for an existing plane, through the computer, and see what it says about that plane.” I don’t know why, but they ran the plans, for the Demon, through their computer, and the machine said, “IT WILL NOT FLY.”
Skip forward to the Fall of ’62. On my first 10 day car-qual, on the Ticonderoga, I was the dedicated “field nigger” that had to work as a “troubleshooter” on the flight deck. Not a single one of the other squadrons had a troubleshooter assigned thereto. But I was the lone “Reserve” in my squadron, so I got all the shit jobs. When our electronics shop got its first Negro, many moons later, HE immediately became the new field-nigger-on-the-flight-deck, and I became the new house-nigger-on-the-hangar-deck.
That first 10 days and nights, working on the flight deck, weren’t too bad, although I had to work 20 hours each and every day. The absolute worst part of it was the bone-numbing cold, at night. The air temp was probably around 50 degrees but , with a 30 knot wind, the wind-chill was around 20 degrees F. Wearing four layers of clothes (15 layers wouldn’t have helped) didn’t keep the wet, salty air from penetrating to your body. To try and keep warm, 40 or 50 guys would stand in a big circle, huddling together. This wasn’t some homo-inspired group-grope, it was a basic survival technique. The guys on the inside were, of course, warm, and didn’t want to exchange places with the guys on the outside, who were cold. and wanted to get inside. I figured that there had to be a better way to handle the cold, and decided to bring some BRANDY out with me, on the next cruise.
A couple of weeks later, on the next 10 day car-qual, my bottle of cherry-flavored brandy was tapped twice a night. Once at 8 pm and again at 10 pm. One shot, and I would be toasty warm for two hours. For a couple of nights, I stayed on the outside, keeping other guys warm. On this one particular night, I had just been down to my locker, to take a shot, and was standing on the forward flight deck, a few feet away from the mob, watching the planes land on the angle deck. It was neat, being able to watch the action, and without being really cold.
A Demon, which landed at 160 knots, compared to an F-4 Phantom, FA-18, or any other jet fighter, all of which landed at 130 knots, touched down, missed all the wires, which probably saved the pilot’s life, and took off (boltered) again. In it’s short time on the deck, it managed to lose its entire starboard main gear. The wheel separated from the strut, the latter bouncing end-over-end down the angle deck, and going into the ocean. The wheel, a monster that stood about 4 feet tall, weighing about 400 pounds, and doing about 180 mph, bounced 2 or 3 times, then settled down, hauling ass directly (like an arrow) towards the 40 or 50 guys in the group hug. NOBODY, except me, saw what had happened, and I yelled out, “There’s a wheel coming down the deck. Everybody scatter.” Everybody did, in fact, scatter, and that wheel went right over what had been the exact middle of that mob of men, shot out over the forward edge of the flight deck, and landed in the water, about 100 yards in front of the carrier, sending up a huge plume of water. Not a single one of those assholes thanked me for saving their life.
About an hour later, we got to see the pilot of the Demon eject from the plane, only about 1/4 mile off our starboard bow, at 2,000 feet. That was way cool.
If it hadn’t been for that shot of brandy, I would have been part of that hug-a-thon, and probably killed, along with a bunch of other bluejackets. I never took brandy out with me again, weighing my comfort against a possible court-martial for having booze aboard the ship. It’s OK for the officers, but not the enlisted men.
(That was N-D experience #5)
I actually had a few more close calls with death, than the six on which I comment; there are actually another 2 or 3, along with a few experiences that came THIS CLOSE ][ to being one of those nasties. This one was the last of the six, which took place on a night, in Long Beach, California, that was raining like I would imagine it would be in Bombay, India, during the Monsoon season. It was the heaviest rain that I’ve ever had to drive in.
I was working the night shift at ADT’s Station 9, at the corner of Wardlow and Santa Fe, where I had practiced drawing, firing, and reloading my personally-owned gat, a museum-quality Smith & Wesson Model 27, .357 Magnum, with a 5″ barrel, for scores of hours. I worked that station first, after I started working in the field. Besides training myself in the fundamentals of pistolcraft, I also schooled myself in what I should do, in hundreds of different situations, in which I might find myself. I had speedloaders on my Sam Brown belt, something that a lot of cops didn’t have, even many years later, when every cop-shop in the country, went to semi-autos. Some were still using drop pouches, in the 70s, and I was proficient with MY speedloaders in early 1965.
The Long Beach Station was usually slow, and sometimes VERY slow. Thankfully, this night was so slow, that I had been in the station since 4:30 pm and, around 9 pm, I got my first call. It was something in Hawthorne or El Segundo or I don’t know where, but I had to take the San Diego Freeway, the on-ramp to which, was about 100 yards from the station. As I said, it was raining hard, but I had no idea just HOW hard. I got on the freeway and this, boys and girls, was THE GOOD OL’ DAYS; I’m talking NOBODY on the freeway. There were probably 5 cars, total, on the entire freeway, between the Long Beach Freeway and the Harbor Freeway, which are about 5 miles apart, but the fastest I felt that I could go, on this particular deserted freeway, was 25 mph. With the wipers set on FAST, it was still almost impossible to see . I was heading west and the end of the storm was heading east and, as I drove to the west, it quickly lightened up in the intensity department. I moved up to 35, 45, and finally, to exactly 50 mph, when I had passed the storm. It had totally stopped raining, but the roadway was still wet, of course, and 50 was a safe speed under those conditions. I could see two cars, about a mile behind me, as I approached the interchange with the Harbor Freeway. I was continuing on the S.D. Fwy, and was driving in a straight line, with both hands firmly grasping the steering wheel, when the back of that Plymouth 2-door’s rear-end started to come around, to the left, in a clock-wise rotation, as viewed from above. Two things happened: Time slowed down. It actually happens, and there’s even a scientific name to describe the phenomenon. And the other thing was actually something NOT happening. I did not panic. I was in a state of Zen consciousness. The car had come around 180 degrees, in a pretty short time, and stopped turning, but still sliding, now backwards, at 50 mph. As I was curious as to the direction in which my car was headed, I looked over my left shoulder, and saw that I was headed directly at a metal pole, about 5 feet in diameter; one of those babies that hold up the inverted “L” signs, which hang over the freeway, with catwalks on them. Those poles could anchor Mount Rushmore. Not just the car was headed toward that stronger-than-Gibraltar pole but, more specifically, the driver’s door was on a collision course with that thing. Micro-seconds after hitting that thing, I would have been completely dead; no brain, heart, or any other system in my body would be working; dead. I had cranked that wheel, while in the initial spin, from lock-to-lock several times, with no effect, so I knew that turning the wheel was useless, but I had to find some way to change the direction of my car or I would die. I had never even thought about using the brakes, when I was in the spin, but thought that maybe the brakes could do something; anything.
I started pumping that pedal, as hard and as fast as I could, as I was getting closer and closer to that pole. I must have pumped it 15 or more times, with no effect, when suddenly the car started to spin again, doing a 360 this time, ending up still backing towards that pole, but slowed, just enough, by the spin, not the brakes, that no part of the car hit the pole. Instead, my rear bumper cleared that pole by just a foot or two; the side of the car taking out a bunch of very cheap-ass guard-rail, but that’s all that was needed there. The guard-rail was twisted around the big pole, at a 90 degree angle to the direction of the freeway, pointing in the general direction of the Goodyear Blimp, which was moored just a couple of hundred yards away. Three or four 6 X 6 wooden posts were pulled out of the muddy ground, still attached to the metal guard-rail. I rolled down a 75 foot, almost vertical, muddy-ass hill; left side, roof, right side, wheels, rinse and repeat several times, coming to rest, UPSIDE DOWN, hanging from my seat belt. The engine had died and I turned off the ignition switch.
The only thing that concerned me was fire. I hung, upside down, for 2 or 3 minutes, surveying the scene. The roof was smashed down to within about a foot of the front passenger seat. Someone sitting there would have been killed. There was no way to get out of the car through the right-side door. The windshield was still in place, and was unbroken right in front of me, while it was all broken-up, but still in place, in front of the passenger seat. That left my door and the rear window as the only two avenues of egress. My window had popped out, leaving enough room to crawl out the window, but with the roof resting on some very mushy mud, which partially blocked the window opening, I would have gotten covered, completely, with mud. The driver’s door was jammed shut. Not getting all muddy had a certain appeal, so I released the seat belt, dropped onto the roof, got on my hands and knees, and crawled to the back of the car. The rear window was completely undamaged, so I thought that as kicking it would probably not work, I would have to SHOOT the sumbitch. I took my gun out of the holster, cocked it, aimed it at the window, and was just about to pull the trigger, when I looked through the muddy, streaked, dirty window, and saw that my bullets would be hitting the slow lane on the Harbor Freeway, and I thought, I’d better not do that. I put my gun back in the holster, and tunneled through the mud that was partially blocking the window, then played slip-and-slide on that fucking 75 foot hill.
It took about 5 minutes to get up that damned hill. About 2 minutes after I reached the level of the freeway, I was sitting in the back of a CHP car. The driver was an older guy who must have had 20+ years as a copper. The other guy had to be a jew. What a fucking asshole. “Were you scared?” Fuck no, I wasn’t scared. It took two tow trucks to get that car up onto the freeway and the older cop immediately checked the tire pressure on all my tires. The left rear one had SEVENTY pounds of pressure in it and a one-inch bald spot, right down the middle of the tire. It was a brand-new tire, being only one week old, and that’s what caused me to aquaplane.