A Hole in The Barn Door

An unpleasant experince after a tragic period of time




These articles, stories and accounts of my life, as I recall them, and are copywrited. Unauthorized use will be pursued at my determination, to the degree that I am inclined. Any hard feeling caused by memories that don't match yours are unfortunate and you'll just have to get over it! Feel free to contact me if you have a request for their use.



It had only been a week since we had buried my wife and Doug's sister Sandy. We were still in a damn funk, but Doug's car had transmission failure and we had to get it running again for him to keep his job. It was an automatic transmission in an old Chrysler New Yorker.

He had bought the transmission on Friday evening, and had driven his car over to my shop on the new farm in Hamilton , Ohio on Saturday morning. We got an early start, but we had a long hard day getting it installed. The shop floor was made of thick wooden beams and was not level or even over the entire area, causing havoc on using the floor jack and getting all four jack stands to sit level and in contact with the car. The transmission was missing a few pieces, and we had to make a few trips into town to buy some hose and a bracket or a gasket and sealant and on the most recent venture, Doug had brought home a case of beer. He had noticed that it was starting to snow more heavily and did not want to be without his liquid refreshment should the storm pick up. I never was a big drinker, but in light of current events, I was somewhat more willing to assist him in dispensing with the brew.

As we imbibed the beer, lightly at first, we continued to have a hard time of getting everything to go our way. The barn was an old horse barn and still had a few cracks in the wall and the large sliding door did not seal well at all at each side, and because we had the car up on jack stands we had to endure the occasional snow flake invasion as the storm outside was picking up wind.

As we continued to drink, our attitude began to dwindle. We were cursing our situation with the car, questioning God for taking our ‘lady', and throwing assorted tools when we perceived them as working incorrectly. Whoever was working at the front of the car was having to endure the occasion puff of snow down the back of his shirt, or worse if he was bent over, a chilling reminder that his pants had slipped down. Finally we got the transmission in place and the motor bolted back down and most of the hoses attached. We put the hood back on and held it up in a more vertical position with a broom stick so that we could reach the transmission adjustor cables and add fluid.

As much as we were bitching about our negative circumstances, we whooped it up and hollered loudly when something went right, which wasn't happening often enough to suit either one of us, but we finally figured that we had made enough progress that we were able to put the rear wheels on the ground. We were sure that we were about ready to finish this project, and began the final adjustments to the transmission. We had piled most of our wrenches about the engine compartment, inside the open doors and a few were placed on the roof of the car, under a pile of rags. There were open containers of transmission fluid on the front bumper area.

We were sure that we had put enough transmission fluid in the car despite the puddles that lay on several rags under the car, and were trying to correct the shift linkage to ensure that we could finally get the transmission in reverse gear. It was a huge mess, with tools, rags, parts and beer cans every where. I finally thought I could make the final adjustment from under the car. The front wheels were still on the jack stands, so I just took two more swallows of beer and wiggled my way under the front of the car. At the same time, Doug finished off another beer and suggesting that we only needed a little more transmission fluid, he reached over the top of the fender and began to pour.

It appears that we were both right. Just as I made the final shift cable adjustment, Doug had supplied the exact amount of transmission fluid need to complete our endeavor, and all hell broke loose. The car had enough transmission fluid, and I had put the car in first gear from underneath. Unfortunately, I was still underneath as well, and as the car lurched forward it came off the front jack stands and I was sure I was going to get crushed beneath the car. However, I just rolled out just in time, as the left front jack stand got hung for a moment on the lower control arm. Unfortunately, my coat got hung on the front corner of the open door and the car was dragging me forward. My outburst describing my observation of Doug's heritage completely drowned out his expletives regarding the fact that his coat had gotten entangled in the rear hood hinge bracket that had been disconnected to make it possible for the afore mentioned broom stick to hold the hood in a more upright position.

Here we went. The car was in gear dragging us both by the coat tails, and headed towards that heavy wooden door directly in its path. We had both rolled our way from under the car, but we both had severely torn coats and shirts, leaving us both with some degree of exposed skin and a few scratches. We were both dirty and grimy with grease from the day's toils, slightly wobbly from the afternoon beers, and we were both vocalizing our entire array of vulgar epitaphs and crude observations of the driver-less car as it crashed into, then thru the barn door and out into the snow.

The hood on the car had fallen backwards and into the windshield, breaking it in several places. The shape of the hood and the car in general was outlined in the hole that the car had made as it went thru the door. It was just like in a cartoon, except neither of us was laughing. Wrenches and rags continued to fall off and out of the car, and we both watched in dismay as we lay on our stomachs, looking thru the hole in the door, as the car continued on its own, out across the yard, thru the snow, leaving a trail of soiled rags, assorted tools and dripping fluids. We just looked at each other as we simultaneously recognized what was about to happen.

The car was continuing in a straight line and was approaching the ditch alongside the road. The road was not visible to us, as it was about five or six feet lower than the yard. It was too far from us, we were on the floor, and neither of us seemed interested in trying to go after the car. We continued to watch as it reached the ditch, tipped over and nosed down towards the road and coming to a stop with the rear wheels off the ground just enough to continue spinning.

As we got ourselves off the floor, Doug turned to me and asked me how long did I think it will run before it runs out of gas. I had no idea, so I went back and got a couple of chairs and brought them up to the door, while Doug brought over the remaining case of beer. We both sat down and watched the car spinning its wheels in the ditch, as we continued to drink.

We ran out of beer before the car ran out of gas.