“THE FENDER BENDER”
When I got married I owned a 1950 Chevrolet two-door sedan. It was a
pretty vehicle, and it had served me well during my college days. Now, after
marriage and contemplating starting a family, I felt that a newer, larger car
was in order.
I found a nice used 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air four-door at Butts Chevrolet that
appealed to my new paternal nature. It was black and white with fender
skirts on the rear fenders. Although not air-conditioned, it did have an AM
radio and heater. In 1958 this was a very nice automobile. So, I purchased
it “on time”. The manual transmission had a stick shift on the steering
column, as was common in that era. A six-cylinder engine was the power
plant, but I was not that interested in power, just dependability at that point.
My new wife, Clara, had no trouble driving it as she had learned to drive a
manual shift on a 1953 Chevrolet that her parents owned.
One summer day Clara was driving our new car in downtown San
Augustine. She had turned north off the main street onto Harrison. Suddenly a
parked vehicle on her right came to life and proceeded to back into her right
rear fender. The older gentleman driving the other car was not very
sympathetic to my new wife, and blamed her for the accident, although she
had the right-of-way.
I did not relish the idea of having to confront Mr. Green* about this incident.
After all, I was only twenty-one years old, and he was a seasoned citizen.
However, I summoned up my courage and walked into his store. “Mr.
Green”, I stammered, “ I need to talk to you about the accident you had with
my wife earlier today.” He peered at me over his glasses, and I could see the
temperature rising in his neck. “It was her fault, sonny”, he roared at me.
“But, Mr. Green, she was just driving down the street. She had the right-of-
way, and you backed into her”, I retorted, trying to stiffen my back. “You
want me to buy you a new car, sonny?”, he responded. “Why I have
known your daddy for a long time”, he added. I was not sure what that had
to do with anything at the time. “Mr. Green, I don’t want you to buy me a
new car, but that would be nice of you. I just want you to pay for having the
rear fender repaired that you damaged”, I tried to explain nicely. “Well, I
told you it was her fault”, he stressed. I was trying to figure out just why he
thought it was her fault when he backed into her. “Just how do you figure it
was her fault, Mr. Green?” I queried.
“Sonny, it is simple. I honked my horn before I backed out. So she was
warned that I was coming”, he explained. I was not sure just how to argue
with that kind of logic, so I left empty-handed.
Mr. Green never mentioned the incident again, and obviously never paid for
the damage to my Chevrolet. As I recall, my mother felt sorry for me and
paid the $200 to get my fender repaired. My car was whole again.
However, we both made it a habit to watch out for Mr. Green every time we
turned that corner downtown.