It was a steamy hot summer night in mid-July. I was young, but that does not excuse my poor judgement. One rash decision led to a moment I will never forget, visions that I cannot erase no matter how many years pass. I had just turned 20, and I thought I knew it all. I was working that summer for my college as a R.A. for the Upward Bound Program. My husband, then boyfriend, was an R.A. too, and we basically spent the summer chaperoning some really cool high school kids. The day started out harmlessly enough, volleyball and a water balloon fight. That evening we all ate dinner in the cafeteria. They served lasagna, which was actually quite tasty. It should have been a tip-off. Our good luck could not continue. Shortly there after we all loaded up into college vans for a trip to the Gibson County Fair.
This fair was one of the best in the area. The 4-H animal exhibits were awesome, and the fair had the perfect balance of fried food and carnival rides. Our kids were a close knit group who loved to hang out together, so a big group of us went looking for rides we could all fit on at once. At this point in my life, I was still doing crazy things like riding roller coasters and rocko-planes. No ride was too scary for me until now. There before me stood the Kamikaze. Two arms spinning side by side upside down and all around.
In a moment I relive over and over again, I climbed aboard. Charlie and I were on one side, and about ten of our kids climbed into the other. As soon as the ride started, I knew I was in trouble. I had never been so terrified in my life. I can still remember begging, "Please God let this ride end. Please God let this ride end." I was slient in my fear, but I could hear screaming all around me. Over and over we flew defying gravity and all natural laws. Over and over I prayed to live until the end. Ominously, the ride slowed. I thought maybe the operator had compassion for one of the screamers, and I began to thank God for answering my prayers.
I looked over at Les in the other car. He was one of my favorites. Normally laughing and joking, he was now in tears. As they climbed out of the car, graphic details of the horrific tragedy began to unfold. There was an accident. Almost everyone was affected. Chunks of tomatoes and peppers were everywhere. Chuck bravely helped us piece the accident together: "I looked up and saw a great big pink cloud of puke!" Since we were in the other car, we were spared. All of the girls had globs of lasagna remains in their hair. We rushed to the bathrooms, and I tried to help them clean up. We had to wash all their hair in the sink before we could even leave. The smell from the van ride home still lingers. We cheated Death, but he scar(r)ed us for life.