Mom’s “gift”

My sister was born in 1943, October.  She had a habit of throwing her socks out of the crib, “booties” we called them.  I took to calling her Bootsie, and the name has stuck with her for some 70 years now.  A lot of people on Martha’s Vineyard know her only as Bootsie.   When Bootsie was about 4 years old she had a boy friend who lived just down the block.  Just past the Katanis’ fabulous lawn and brick mansion, slightly down the hill toward the Country Club in Arlington, Massachusetts, 15 miles from downtown Boston.  Andy Anderson was a pilot for Eastern Airlines and his 4 year old son, Andy Anderson Junior, had thick flaming orange hair.  The Andersons had an enormous house with a large and wholly fenced yard and the home was located on a low bluff, bordered by a fast road, beyond which was an 18 hole golf course and the Club.   On a spring day in the afternoon, I was in school and the maid (3 days a week) had the day off.  Dad was at work in the Harvard Club.  Mom was volunteering at the Heart Fund offices in Boston, something which she did from time to time and when there was the equivalent of “day care” that could take care of Bootsie.  My grandfather, Daniel, age 85, was at home.  Bootsie was down at the Andersons, playing in the huge yard with Andy Junior.  Shortly after lunch, the 2 kids found a place where the ground had sunk away from the fence and, out of sight from the porch, they slipped under the fence and went for a walk.   They slid down the bluff and walked along the fast and busy road.  Bootsie was walking behind Andy and she was struck from behind by a 10 ton trailer truck, traveling at about 50 miles per hour.  She flew a hundred feet through the air, landed on her forehead, and lay in a heap.  Drivers then cops collected, Mrs. Anderson came down from the house, and Bootsie went off in an ambulance to the local hospital (where she remained in a coma for months, eventually waking up and amazing everyone by being AOK but with a scar on her forehead to this day).

In Boston, at a time that had to be when the accident occurred, my mother put down her pencil, got up from her desk, went to her supervisor, and stated that she had to go home immediately “because my little girl has been hurt.”  Oh, said the supervisor, “did someone call to tell you?”  Mom said, “No, I just ‘know'”. She drove home, as she had the 1939 Buick convertible with her that day at the Heart Fund Offices.  She arrived to find only Grampie at the house on Falmoth Hill Road and she then drove straight to the local hospital in Arlington. She climbed the stairs, got off at the landing at floor 3, and asked the nurse for Marietta Tierney’s room…   No one could ever explain how it was that she had “known” to just leave work and come home or explain her going to the right hospital and the right floor.  It was just folklore in the family that she had a “gift” and no one made much of it or spoke much of it.

In 1957, I was 16.  I had worked three summers as a Dairy Queen iced-milk maker and soda jerk.  Now,in my senior year of High School, I was working two afternoons a week helping pump gasoline at a service station just across busy Route 3 from my father’s large restaurant, the Country Fare located at 1217 Main Street in Hingham Massachusetts.  It was just a moment after 5pm and almost time for me to quit and go home to supper at the family table in the front of the restaurant.  A drunk in a 1956 Blue Buick four door hardtop was speeding North and, just at the gravel apron driveway to my Dad’s Restaurant,  directly in front of the gas station, he sideswiped a green Pontiac,  hard.  It rolled over and over and across the gravel apron kicking up a huge amount of dust. Traffic snarled and my coworker, Gino, a former policeman from Colorado yelled to me, “get in the car”. Gino ran to his 1957 Chevie Black and White Impala 2 door.  When I ducked in, he swerved out of the Esso gas station, heading left and North, hot on the trail of the Buick’s hit and run driver.  As we headed up the long hill, Gino yelled, “get his number”.  I had no pencil and I had no paper – but I had a jackknife and my wallet.  When we passed 100 miles per hour, I was hard a work carving the number in my wallet.  About 7 or 8 minutes into the chase, we were right close behind the Buick, which was all over the road and doing 90 mph.  At about the border between Weymouth and Hingham, Route 3 takes a sudden and pronounced veer to the left.   The road veered – but the Buick did not.  At the far right edge of Route 3, there was an open and deep granite quarry.  The Buick made it quite far out into space before it went 65 feet down to the bottom of the quarry, essentially flatly pancaking on the rocks forming the bottom of the unused quarry.  We braked and the Chevie skidded to a stop at the edge of the road, up on the verge,  where we stood and watched the smashed Buick just starting to leak smoke.  Cars began to collect behind us.  Gino began to climb down the wall,  the blocks of the quarry where irregular cutting had left ledges. I followed and, in a moment, we were below and at the car. With windows smashed and doors crumpled, it was starting to leak smoke from the engine compartment and through the dash into the car, where two forms were crumpled in the front seat.  Gino hollered that I should go get the extinguisher.  I went up the wall of the quarry then down with the extinguisher and he flushed the small flames from the crumpled front of the car,  and then began breaking the safety glass windows on both sides with a large rock.  Flames began to lick from the bottom of the Buick and Gino reached in and pulled out the male driver, bloody and smelling of smoke and alcohol.  I took the woman.  We inched back up the wall with our “packages” and there were a lot of faces at the top of the quarry, with the sounds of sirens coming closer.  The Buick began to really burn and we struggled up.   And then I saw my mother.

She had been at dinner with my father at 5:15pm.  As he told it, she put down her fork.  She said:  “David is in trouble.  We have to go, right now”, and got up from the white table, walked ten steps to the doorway out of the restaurant, and walked out toward the car, standing looking North then South then North…  My Dad followed, his keys in hand.  They got into the old red 1948 Mercury 4 door that my Dad drove and she told him to go North on Route 3 (instead of South out the other driveway to Route 128.   They drove for about 15 minutes (at a sedate pace) till they came across the knot of people and police cars.  When I came climbing up over the lip of the quarry with the bloody form of the woman passenger in my arms and hands reached out for that woman, my Mom was standing a few people back, arms crossed, saying not a word.  I rode home with my folks an hour or so later.  My mother never talked about the incident – and but there were two other occasions which gave her a chance to exercise “the gift”, though the incidents involved less events, and both times involved my sister.  It didn’t always work.  When I was almost killed in 1981 December by a drunk driver in Phoenix, she had no “vibes” back on the East Coast in Hingham and she learned of it a day later on the phone.

The woman passenger lived and the male driver went to prison, as he had sideswiped more then one car driving drunk out of Plymouth, heading for Boston.   Gino came to a bad end after some events with a woman.  The quarry is still there and the road still has the bend to the left in it, as it did in late 1957.

2 thoughts on “Mom’s “gift”

  1. Marietta Tierney Cleasby says:

    David–it was 1217 Main St. Mom had another time when she knew I had been in an
    accident. (if you remember, I had MANY). That one was when brakes failed and I was
    a passenger. The car smashed under a dump truck and was totaled. I did walk away
    and called Mom to let her know–but she already instinctively knew.

  2. Marietta Tierney Cleasby says:

    I’m trying to remember if she knew I had been struck by lightning….

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