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Friday, October 5, 2018

Thornton P. Knowles On His Mother's Stories

My mother liked to tell stories, and most of them featured either someone's gruesome death or some bizarre disease she had heard about. For a kid, these tales of woe were often unsettling and hard to listen to. But there was one store that caught my imagination, and while I didn't believe a word of it, I repeated the story to all of my friends who did buy it hook line and sinker. It went like this: The husband of one of my mother's friends suffered a heart attack and was being transported to the emergency room in a city ambulance. As the vehicle sped up a steep hill on a cobbled street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the rear doors burst open. The patient, strapped on a stretcher, flew out the back of the ambulance and bounced down the hill into an oncoming truck. He was, as they say, killed instantly. Because I felt the ending of the story needed a boost, I added this: Following the accident, all ambulance attendants in the city had to equip their patients with helmets. Because my friends believed this as well, they didn't appreciate my attempt at dark humor. I was an idiot for passing this story on, and they were dimwits for believing it. It was great growing up in West Virginia.

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