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