Sunday, July 31, 2005

"Dangerous Sunday"

Seems like there's been an unusual amount of accidents here locally today. Maybe because of the nice weather; everyone trying to get out and enjoy Summer while they can.

I went by the local flea market today and as I started down the line of tables, I came upon a half dozen of them over-turned and smashed to bits! I walked on down a few tables and asked one of the dealers I knew there what had happened, and he said that around 5:30 AM this morning, a man had sped around the corner, lost control and plowed through the flea market! Seems that this guy was one of those "dive-offs" (not paying for gasoline) at the close-by Interstate, and was eluding the police. The vehicle finally stopped when he smashed into the side of a pick-up trush (owned by one of the dealers who had just stopped to do his set-up early).

Fortunately at that early hour, nobody was hurt. The dealer had seen him coming towards him and ran out of the way and no one else had started their set-ups yet. The local law came and got the driver who tested Point 1.8 for alcohol intoxication as well. The dealer's left side truck area was knocked in at least a good 8 inches. No words as to whether the flea market has insurance to cover such things, or if the driver had any insurance, not any report as to any injuries the driver sustained from the collision.

In the eight to ten years that particular flea market has been there, I've seen numberous fender benders from customers backing out into the highway, etc., but this one has got to be the worst. I think everyone was particularly thankful that it didn't happen later in the morning (say, around 10AM), as someone could have been killed.

Then a little while ago, I had to make another trip back to this same area and was stuck in traffic that was backed up almost 2 miles from the traffic light. There'd been an accident on Interstate 65, and police were letting everyone off in my town, and letting them on the interstate a couple exits down. I was able to cut thru back streets and avoid the most of it, since it's really too hot to sit in a car during the current heat wave, and coming back I took one of the old "party" roads I remembered and avoided traffic as well.

The problem with our local roads is that they were built approximately 75 years ago. They were fine for the traffic flow in "those days", but around the late 1950's had started becoming too congested, so the Interstate 65 HWY system was constructed which by-passed many a small town (and eventually spelled its doom, business-wise).

I can recall my parents driving the old road, which is 31-W and was the "main drag" of its day, from here to Louisville (85 miles North), or to Bowling Green (about 40 miles South) many a time. Such trips were an adventure to a small child because it seemed like it took forever. And, in truth, it did indeed take longer because these roads were more narrow, had two lanes, a limited speed limit, were curvy with seldom places to pass a slower vehicle, plus one had to travel through several small towns before you came to your destination.

Then, in the latter part of the 1960's, the interstate finally was finished and the traffic on 31 dwindled until it was primarily just the locals that traveled it. 31-W is still a pretty road and a pleasant drive in fact, and when I go either to Bowling Green, or Eliabethtown (where my father-in-law lives), I still take this road. You don't have to hurry on it and it's never congested anymore.

On this road you're still apt to find "See Rock City" signs painted on the roofs of barns, fields of cattle grazing, and the ruins of now lost little 'burgs and buildings that were at one time thriving restaurants or "beer joints". I remember there's still an old sign along the way that had been on a gas station with the price of gasoline at about 30 cents a gallon! And there's the ghosts of old silos where ancient barns once stood, now Conaneque towers standing silently and alone in the empty fields, covered with ages of vines.

Or the comical sign where a man was selling cattle and had a sign that read" "USED Cows For Sale"!

But with all of this pictureque farm land and quaint towns, I wonder "how" it must have been when an accident did happen on ol' 31? Such things were worst than an interstate collision as the roads are tight with no pull-off emmergency lanes, and little space for ambulances or the police to get to the scene of such. And sadly another site you'll see as you travel this older road are the numberous crosses placed on dangerous curves and intersections where a family member had erected them to remember a lost loved one from a traffic accident of years past.

But...maybe I'm just rambling on now.

IF you ever do happen to visit South-Central, Kentucky, I urge you to take some of these "back roads", enjoy the view and the slower pace, and...Drive Safely. The life you save might be mine.


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