Thursday, November 17, 2016

Roll of Honor

     There's a recent article in The New Yorker "The Enemy Next Door" about how life seems to develop along two streams -- the neighborly stream where we're all friendly and polite to one another and treat any problems in a simple, practical manner; and then there's the political stream which is much more poisonous, where people identify with a particular group, almost like a sports team or a religion, and they are passionate about their sometimes abstract beliefs, they get angry at people who don't agree with them, and believe their opponents are untrustworthy, harmful and downright evil.

     I wonder if a similar dualism takes place within ourselves when it comes to automobiles. I've often wondered why someone who's perfectly nice, who might wave you ahead in the grocery line if you only have a few items, will as soon as he gets in his car, start breaking the law by casually ignoring speed limits and other traffic regulations.

     On the way home from South Carolina we stopped at a rest stop in Maryland. On the way out, we got to our car, and a man sitting in a brown Toyota had his car door open next to me. He smiled. "Oh, you go ahead," he said. "I'm waiting for somebody."

     I noticed he was wearing a Boy Scout uniform, and saw a scouting sticker on his back bumper. He closed his door, gave a little wave, and waited politely as we pulled out of our parking space. As we we leaving, I saw a couple of young scouts climb into his car.

     B and I merged back onto the interstate, and about 15 minutes later I noticed the scout leader in my rear-view mirror. I was doing the speed limit, 65 mph on this stretch of I95. He was coming up behind me in his brown Camry. He moved into the left-hand lane, passed me by, then disappeared down the left-hand lane. The problem? He was doing at least 75, maybe 80, or 10 or 15 miles over the speed limit. With Boy Scouts in the car. So what lesson was this scoutmaster teaching the kids? What would their mothers say if they knew their boys were hurdling down I95 at 80 mph with their scoutmaster?

     Anyway, as a follow up to my last post, I thought it would be interesting -- perhaps a little morbid, but interesting -- to see what famous people lost their lives not to a drug overdose or alcohol, not in a plane crash or some violent act. But from the lowly, boring, but no-less-deadly car crash. See if your favorite celebrity is on this dubious honor roll. Then if you're really morbid, you can get a longer list at ranker.com.

General George S. Patton, in 1945 at age 60.
Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, in 1949 at age 48.
James Dean, actor, in 1955 at age 24
Jackson Pollack, artist, in 1956 at age 34
Julia Lennon, John Lennon's mother, in 1958 at age 44
Mel Ott, baseball hall of famer, in 1958 at age 49.
Albert Camus in 1960 at age 46
Ernie Kovaks, actor, in 1962 at age 42
Jayne Mansfield, American actress, in 1967 at age 34
Mary Jo Kopeckne, in 1969 at age 28
Duane Allman, in 1971 at age 24
Steve Prefontaine, runner, in 1975 at age 24
John D. Rockefeller III, in 1978 at age 72
Harry Chapin, singer, in 1981 at age 38
Grace Kelly, princess of Monaco, in 1982 at age 52
Jessica Savich, journalist, in 1983, at age 36
Billy Martin, baseball manager, in 1989 at age 61
Dottie West, Grammy winning country singer, in 1991 at age 59
Sam Kinison, comedian, in 1992 at age 38
Wallace Stegner, Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, in 1993 at age 84
Jerry Rubin, '60s activist, in 1994 at age 56.
Princess Diana, in 1997 at age 36
Alan J. Paluka, movie director, in 1998 at age 70
Pete Conrad, astronaut, in 1999 at age 69
Steve Allen, in 2000 at age 78
Linda Lovelace, porn actress, in 2002 at age 53
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez, American rapper, in 2002 at age 30
David Halberstam, Pulitzer-Prize journalist, in 2007 at age 73
Stephen Covey, author, in 2012 at age 79
Paul Walker, actor, in 2013 at age 40
John Nash, Nobel-Prize mathematician, in 2015 at age 86
Bob Simon, CBS news, in 2015 at age 73
Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake ceo, in 2016 at age 56

15 comments:

June said...

I think you're right about people being normal outside their protective vehicles and . . . different . . . when they are inside their metal bubble. I think they feel powerful and anonymous and free to do all kinds of things.

I don't think your list is morbid. Everybody's gotta go somehow.

John said...

There is definitely something about being in that glass and metal bubble that brings out another side to people. The car is a barrier and creates a feeling of anonymity and power. I have seen the "nicest" people start swearing at other drivers, cutting people up, acting aggressively. People who would never act that way outside their cars. We are all susceptible I fear.

gigihawaii said...

I recognized quite a few of those names. I hope I don't receive a similar fate.

Friko said...

Quite an eye opener.
I am one of the boring ones, I don’t speed. I always observe the speed limit. But I don’t go slower either, in fact, I am seriously irritated by people who dawdle at 40 in a 60 mile zone. I think they cause more accidents than others because they drive others nuts.

Do what the road, the law and conditions demand.

Stephen Hayes said...

There were familiar names on that list that I hadn't known died in car crashes.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know how many of the dead in your list were doing the driving, themselves. Like Friko, I am generally one of the "boring ones". My thinking differs somewhat on slower drivers' causing "more accidents than others because they drive others nuts." since I do agree that we should, "Do what the road, the law and conditions demand." Those slower drivers are some of the "conditions" that demand that we other drivers take it into account without losing our cool.
Cop Car

Tabor said...

Was alcohol involved with any drivers? I think driving fast is not a character flaw, at least as others are, but having Scouts in the car would make one think he would be more careful.

Anonymous said...

And then there was T.E. Lawrence of Arabia, at the age of 46, 1935.

Janette said...

Harry Chapin- I remember well. Such a great loss.
You are reminding me to be kind on the highway as I drive to my daughter's house tomorrow.
Thank you.

Cindi said...

Because of the death of Princess Diana (not wearing a seatbelt) I vowed right there and then to always wear my seatbelt. I wonder how many of the deceased you have named could have been saved from simply wearing their seatbelt?

Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

I don't drive but using my bike I have seen plenty..I cannot ride my bike on and near the major roads of our tiny town for fear of being crunched to death..I walk lots of places and the people run their cars while talking on cell phones, which I don't have either..I just don't get people speeding in their cars like they are on the highway to hell cause they certainly are on the highway to hell their own.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I reconigzed many names and grimaced, dead to soon for them and their families!

olynjyn said...

Yesterday I drove I-81 to I-78 in my Hyundai Accent with the wind blowing intensely and the snow flakes coming down. I thought of you as I passed Exit 80 towards my Exit 69. I was happy to get home in one piece. I don't enjoy driving anyway and the added wind blowing at 40 and 50 miles per hour was a horror depending on the landscape. It was hard to drive the speed limit because of the horrific winds.

Barbara said...

There were a few names I knew died in auto accidents but I didn't realize there were so many. So many deaths that were avoidable. Good reminder to drive safetly this Holiday Season and every dat,

Anonymous said...

I want to thank Dr.Agbazara for his job in my family, this is man who left me and the kids for another woman without any good reasons, i was pain and confuse,till one day when i was browsing through the internet with my computer then i saw Dr.Agbazara contact, then i contaced him and he help me cast a reunion spell, since I then the situation has changed, everything is moving well, my husband who left me is now back to his family. reach DR.AGBAZARA TEMPLE via email if you have any relationship problem at:

( agbazara@gmail.com )
OR whatsapp or call him on +2348104102662

Anonymous said...

I want to thank Dr.Agbazara for his job in my family, this is man who left me and the kids for another woman without any good reasons, i was pain and confuse,till one day when i was browsing through the internet with my computer then i saw Dr.Agbazara contact, then i contaced him and he help me cast a reunion spell, since I then the situation has changed, everything is moving well, my husband who left me is now back to his family. reach DR.AGBAZARA TEMPLE via email if you have any relationship problem at:

( agbazara@gmail.com )
OR whatsapp or call him on +2348104102662