The Buggy Ride

Bill Stacey loved a fast ride. In the early 1930’s, he was very much aware of cars in town. It had been only a few short years since the first Model T Fords made their way into Woodruff. He knew cars were fast, and he loved spotting the dust storms along local unpaved roads which pinpointed a car speeding along at least 30 miles per hour. One of the most important days of his life would be when his Dad brought home such a car. He even had his chance at driving, but as a growing boy he was his Dad’s best help on the family farm, and didn’t get much of an opportunity to do anything as fast as he wished.

image0Except ride the buggy. A buggy was built for speed. It was light, with thin wheels and a simple seat across the front for the driver. He could hitch a horse, or better yet two horses, to the doubletree on the buggy, and feel in control. Thus far in his life, Bill had felt no exhilaration quite like flying along the road or path through a stubble field in the buggy, driving a fast horse. It was almost like a coming of age for a boy.

One such trip rather sticks in the memory. At age 14 Bill found a reason for speed across his Dad’s farm, hitched the horse, and felt the wind in his sails almost immediately. For a few minutes it was Bill and the buggy and the wind. But without warning, the ring on the doubletree became disconnected from the buggy tongue. Falling from the ring and digging into the roadway, the buggy tongue brought the vehicle to an abrupt halt. Suddenly free, the horse continued without being shackled to his load.

image1Unfortunately, Bill was still holding the reigns, and suddenly found himself airborne as the seat ejected its rider. Letting go of the reigns was the obvious solution, but in the split second it took his brain to process that, he found himself flying headlong into the dirt, rolling over and over and over, legs and arms and alfalfa stubble a tangle of confusion.

Life is a little bit like that. It takes a mouthful of dirt and a few scratched limbs to realize total abandon has its price. At fourteen we may not have known it, but eventually we have no doubt.