My grandmother’s brothers were driving across Florida in a Model T Ford–this was eighty years ago or more. The car had no windshield, so the bugs that would normally get splattered on the windshield were instead getting splattered on my uncles’ faces. They were resourceful young men; they got paper bags at a grocery store, cut eyeholes in the bags, and pulled them over their heads like hoods. Then they went on their merry way, bugs popping against the paper bags like pistol shots every few seconds.
They hadn’t gone very far before a policeman stopped them. I suppose they pulled the bags off their heads well before the officer strode up to the driver’s side of that Model T–surely they did–but I like to imagine them turning to face the policeman with the bags still over their heads. They lean back and adjust the bags with their hands to line up the eyeholes so they can see the policeman. “Hello, Officer,” Oliver says, his voice muffled by the paper bag. “Was I speeding?”

The policeman gives them a long squint. “You weren’t speeding,” he says, “but with them masks over your heads you look more like two bank robbers than anybody I ever seen.”

Bonus broken windshield story: My father’s uncle Buddy was tearing down a dirt road in a Model A or Model T when he saw a buzzard picking at something in the road ahead. Buddy didn’t slow down, confident that the buzzard would flap off before he got there. The buzzard tried to flap off, but it miscalculated the speed of the car’s approach. It has scarcely gotten off the ground when there was an explosion of feathers and flying glass. The buzzard crashed through the windshield and landed in the passenger seat beside Buddy, still flapping and clawing. The car hadn’t quite come to a stop when Buddy jumped out the driver’s side. “That buzzard was welcome to the car,” he said. “I just didn’t want to ride around with it any more.”

  • Jess
    5:22 PM, 7 February 2011

    Dang, my uncles were never mistaken for bankrobbers. They missed out on a key piece of life.

  • April
    9:14 PM, 7 February 2011

    I love the story about the bank robbing uncles. I hope I never forget how uncle Bill told it. We wanted him to tell it every time we saw him and we would laugh like it was the first time we heard it. Thank you for writing it down. Now I can read it and hear Uncle Bill’s voice again. I guess Daddy never tried to compete with Bill’s windshield story because I don’t recall ever hearing it before. It is just as good!

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