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The Ride of Terror

Slider BizDirectA Story by Beryl Bowden

When I was married in 1950 I had asked Jean Thompson to be my chief bridesmaid. She returned the compliment in 1955 by nominating me as Matron of Honour for her wedding. The other bridesmaid was a female relative of Jean’s who lived in Sydney. In order to meet and discuss the details of our gowns with her it was decided we would travel to Sydney, stay the night, and return home next day. Jean’s fiancé Robert was to drive us down in his car.

Robert, Jean and I left Stroud at 9 am and picked up her mother in Mayfield an hour later. It was then that Jean announced her intention to drive. I knew that she was on her L-plates but felt reasonably happy about the arrangement. Robert handed over the wheel then settled down to read his Newcastle Herald from cover to cover. (What I didn’t know was that Jean had been refused her driver’s license the day before, because when tested, she was over- confident and drove much too fast!)

This should not have surprised me as she was over confident in all areas of her life and did not take criticism or instruction well. This suited our friendship as I was always unsure of myself and timid so Jean led from the front and I followed. Her mother had also learned not to suggest changes in her behavior. So began two hours of sheer terror for Mrs. Thompson and myself. From the time Jean put her foot on the accelerator she only lifted it when an accident came into sight. She would then stop to allow Robert and herself to run over and view the accident scene. On returning to the car they then gave a rigid Mrs. Thompson and myself unwelcome details of the carnage as they saw it. She treated the winding road above the Hawkesbury as though she was a competitor in the Bathurst 500. Mrs. Thompson and I clung to one another terrified as she rounded the corners on two wheels, to the loud accompaniment of squealing tires. Silently, I begged Robert to put his paper down, but he didn’t get the message.

At one point, Jean handed me an orange to peel for her. I peeled it but when I came to dispose of the skin it couldn’t be found. I had not wound down the car window so can only suppose I had EATEN it!

On arrival in Sydney, Mrs. Thompson and I exhibited opposing symptoms of extreme trauma. She couldn’t stop talking and I couldn’t speak! My voice was completely gone- I was MUTE!

Next day, when the discussions concerning the bridal finery were over…I could only nod or shake my head… it was time to return home. Mrs. Thompson suggested that as Beryl was nervous, she thought it might be a good idea if Robert drove! Good thinking.

Alert to our genuine distress, Robert over-rode Jean’s strenuous protests and took the wheel. The return journey was a much more relaxed experience for the two passengers in the back seat.

Dark when we arrived in Stroud, the loveliest sight I have ever seen was my husband Lloyd, silhouetted in the light of the hallway in his dressing gown and pyjamas. I had been convinced that I would never see him again.

I flew out of the car, crying hysterically and hugged him as hard as I could. The warmth and intensity of my embrace surprised and delighted him; but not being characteristic of my usual behavior, felt it was cause for alarm.

It was another two days before my voice returned sufficiently for me to explain the reason for my emotional homecoming.

Footnote. The names are changed.


3 Comments on “The Ride of Terror”

  1. maree cardiff February 10, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    loved your story

  2. maree cardiff February 10, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    enjoyed your story Beryl

    • Beryl Bowden February 20, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

      Thanks Maree. Glad you liked it. Regards.

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