It was 1968 the year that America had the first manned space craft orbit the moon, as well as lost two great men Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. However, for a small family from Corvallis, Oregon, the time was right for us to take our 1951 converted Chevy Schoolie out for a camping trip.
We loved our schoolie and used it quite often, especially to go to my Dad’s favorite place, the Oregon Coast. We would usually go about half way to the coast, stop and work on a farm taking care of some of the animals (my father was a veterinarian), spend the night there, and then take off the next day for the coast where we would play and have fun.
On this particular trip we had parked our schoolie at a parking lot near a lighthouse. We all sat around the dinner table to eat, but with four rambunctious boys all born within a year of each other, this was no easy feat. We all had energy and a whole lot of it. So, after we had finished eating, Dad and Mom told us to go outside and run around the bus to get out some of our energy before bed. We ran five or six times around the bus until we heard my dad open the door and holler at us to come inside. We all ran in and one of us (might have been me) hopped into the driver’s seat of our little home on wheels. Unfortunately, when whoever it was jumped into the seat they kicked the gear shift by accident. Now, normally this would not be a problem, however, my dad did not spend a whole lot of time leveling the bus or taking any necessary precautions in the area of parking safety. In fact, if you had to sleep with your head in a certain uncomfortable direction then that was ok.
It builds character, right?
In this specific situation the back of the bus was facing towards the ocean and the front of the bus was facing uphill. A rather perilous position, but no big deal to dad as long as he had put the bus into the right gear. Now when whoever it was kicked it out of gear (let’s just say it was my youngest brother, Jim, I mean come on, he’s the youngest so he gets away with everything.) he made it so the bus started to roll. Normally if you are on level ground, or even have wedges for the tires, this would not be a big deal. However, since we had no wedges and the bus was parked at a crazy angle, we started to roll back…towards the cliff that offered us a one way ticket into the ocean. No one was going to be making it out alive if we dropped those 200 terrifying feet to the watery abyss. Jagged rocks called to our rolling home like a siren to a travel weary sailor.
At this point Dad runs to the front of the bus, looking like a football player ready to make the winning touchdown. Unfortunately a young child may, or may not, have been in the way of him reaching the brakes. Try as he might he could not get the bus to stop. Hurdling towards our inevitable fate we all have our fleeting moments of seeing our life flash before our eyes, when suddenly, the bus stops.
We all look around, flabbergasted at our luck!
What in the name of Triton had just happened? Did Poseidon not want four crazy kids and an old bus littering the depths of his kingdom? The short answer, no, at the very last second a slight curb had stopped our impending doom.
Needless to say, after that our father had a very, well, stern talk with us about how our trips would be going from then on. One of the new rules, the parking break was to always be used, no matter what.
Submitted by: Ken Clark
Edited by: Ashley Chick