Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Farmhouse, Part 9

Washington & Jefferson College was still all-male in 1969, and so we had to import women for party weekends. The Skull House seniors had, well, seniority, and thus first dibs on the bedrooms of the farmhouse, so Warren and Abbas and their classmates bedded their dates there and pretty much monopolized the place. Once they graduated that May, the farmhouse became more accessible to the rest of us, especially those of us compelled to attend the summer session.

No one had farmed the land for years, and so the hillside fields had grown up with berries, poke berry, wild rose and sumac that began to hide the farmhouse from the road far below. No other house was even visible from the top of the driveway; we could make as much noise as we wished, and no neighbors could hear us.

It was a perfect place for parties. One blistering July afternoon, we drank and sprawled on blankets in the yard, speakers set in bedroom windows blaring the Rolling Stones. A dozen of us piled into and atop a Jeep wagon for a jaunt through the more open fields across the road. Plowing a sea of waist-high grass at the edge of a shallow ravine, the Jeep’s right front wheel dropped into a hole. Riding on the roof, I felt the radio antenna whip down my face and my chest as I and another person flew into space and down into the ravine. Uninjured because of our relaxed state of inebriation, we lay there laughing, looking up at the vehicle so ridiculously posed with its left rear wheel lifted like a dog’s hind leg at a fire hydrant. Had the Jeep not come to an abrupt stop but had instead rolled into the ravine, we would have been crushed to death. This did not occur to us at the time. Years later, we would shake our heads and wonder at the vastness of our stupidity.

That particular hot day would end in a typical July thunderstorm, and with someone else tempting Death in an even more bizarre and stupid manner.

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