A Deery Accident

As told by Elon Morley, edited by Amaris.

You want to hear more details about our big exciting adventure. We are deeply grateful, first of all, for God’s great mercies and faithfulness. We’ve been wanting to replace the old van for some time, but weren’t planning to do it this way. It has served us well— two Christmas seasons, and other program trips…many miles, as we went singing together with never a problem. Even the AC and heat worked front and back. (I did break down twice with it, driving Amish, when the flywheel broke in the transmission both times). Drove it for nearly 45.000 mi. after installing the engine from Nathaniel’s old white van. But now she sits broken and forlorn, in some lonely place where insurance companies put totaled vehicles.


Well sir, we was just hurrying on our way to Palestine, IL from Grandpa and Grandma Morley’s (it was nearly a 5 hr. drive from Salem, MO). We passed through Oblong and Fain pointed out where the AWMC church used to be, where Rodney Parks pastored. We were picking up speed on the outskirts of town, and about 2 seconds after Fain mentioned that, I suddenly couldn’t see out the windshield. There was an awful WHAM and jolt and the windshield was all steamed up or something and all the ladies were hollaring for us to stop and open the doors and stuff. All I’d seen was a instantaneous blur and Fain gave a big gasp, and then we were slowing and trying to pull off the road. I looked at the instrument panel and the engine stalled. I thought Oh no, this must be bad. Then I noticed a limp dangly thing hanging out of the steering wheel. There was another one dangling out on Fain’s side.

As soon as the wheels stopped rolling, I think Candace was the first one out so she could let Amaris out the back (we had taken the rear seat out for this trip, and installed a recliner for her to sit on). (editors note…. We girls thought that the van was going to burst into flames because of all the smoke. We did not know what we had hit so we all wanted to bail out as quick as possible.) There was an awful, acrid smell that was kinda fumigating us and everybody exited coughing and choking and looking around at all the various parts and pieces of the front end of our van–headlight here, bits of grill there, etc. etc. etc. I thought that the “steam” on the windshield was the broken radiator emitting vapors, but upon inspection, we realized that the radiator was intact. But we did note that transmission fluid was pouring out of broken cooler lines.   Hmmm….no headlights, engine stalled, pieces everywhere,windshield busted, red fluid pooling under the van…Fain got on the phone with Br. Gray, (the pastor of the church we were going to) who informed us he would send out the church van to rescue us. It was around 13 miles from the church…so at least a 1/2 hr. round trip, and it was already almost 6 o’clock.


(Just finished clearing out the old van after we’d taken the church van back early Tues. morning on our way home to PA.)

We said, hey, it’s broke anyway, why can’t we just drive as far as we can? I twisted the key in the ignition…she just cranked. Fain says, Ya need to re-set the emergency gas shut-off, which is right here by the passenger-side door. You gotta respect a true Ford man. There were plenty of other broken pieces of plastic around, so I just grabbed the panel and yanked. Sure enough, behind it was a switch mechanism that you could push. We pushed. And the van started. But a wail arose from those congregated around the front, for tranny fluid just gushed out of the pipes. We still had the LED lights on the bumper (installed since the brights wouldn’t work on this van) so we says, Every body get in, we’ll just open the windows and see how far we get.

And we did. Off we took, slowly first and then building speed. You’da never known anything was wrong, except it was a little inconvenient to try to steer with this big baggy thing in the way. But we didn’t need to do much steering, you know how the roads in IL are, so just kept rolling till we were halfway thru Robinson (approx. 8 miles) and somebody was stopped at a stop light and wouldn’t get out of the way soon enough and so we had to brake and when we applied the gas again, it was just in Neutral. Vroom Vroom! Uh oh– finished. We quickly steered to the right and then left into a parking area. What do you know! Adam’s Memorial store, with gravestones displayed all around. Just as we were coasting into the place, I saw a big red van go through the light, but it turned around. It was Brother Mike Theroff. We quickly unhitched from the trailer and pushed our van out of the way so he could pull in and hitch up. After backing the wreck into a parking spot, we all boarded the “Palestine Pilgrim Holiness Church” van and aimed for the church.


I’d say more than half the congregation was already there, and it was embarrassing because we had great quantities of camping gear and other travel paraphernalia (from our 4 days in MO) which had to be unloaded first before we could get to the bells and stuff. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And we did, managing to get set up, hair combed, mussed clothes straightened, people greeted, and the service started a mere 5 min. late! To the Lord’s credit, the program went smoother than in the morning, and several commented later how “un-shaken” we appeared. They didn’t see us go to pieces at Aunt Kezia’s! Adrenaline can actually be a good thing, ya know.

It appears I am the only one who was injured. I had a scrape on my arm. The other one blew in Fain’s face and flipped up to break the windshield. Cool! I’ve never been in a vehicle when the airbags employed. The sad part was this was all so unnecessary. It wasn’t a collision hard enough to make the bags useful. However, it figures in to the totalization of a vehicle. (This says THAT isn’t a word either.) Well afterwards a man said to me that the driver’s airbag hit him once and broke his sternum. OUch. It was fun talking to a bunch of old acquaintances afterwards, but of course the thought was ever present and near the surface– How we gonna get home? Br. Gray kindly lent us the church van to go to Kezia’s, and I was thinking, Would he rent it to us to get home? But then somebody from IL would have to go along to bring it back…Lotsa questions… Kezia and Chris’s went home before we did and set out a nice supper of sloppy joes and/or franks and other stuff. All I wanted was some fruit salad.

Plus we had to figure out what to do with everybody. The school students all had to leave early in the morning for PA, in order to be back in classes on Tuesday. Larry and Ruth Ann were fixin to have some of the youngun’s over at their place, but the boys finally decided to just roll out the sleeping bags in Kezia’s basement, so everybody would be together and more expeditiously (ha ha, that IS a word) be ready to roll in the morning. Maybe you don’t know it, but Nathaniel and Samuel both had their cars along. So Nate, Ezra, Pearl, Natasha, Crystal, and David pulled out around 6:30. The rest of us remained perplexed at Shushan.


Monday dawned clear and bright– well, not really, it was cold and gloomy. We spent the day phoning insurance agents and rental places and car dealerships etc. We scanned craigslist, cargurus, and autotempest. Larry (Aunt Kezia’s  father-in-law) came over fairly early, and plied us with advice. I really like him. So down to earth. I was sorta of the mind to go to a salvage yard, get a couple headlights and transmission cooler, fill up the tranny with fluid, and see if she’d go. Larry sorta felt the same way. But it would have been a nervewracking trip. (He didn’t like the idea of quickly making a decision and buying a vehicle.   I was much of the same persuasion.)


Fain was calling about vans in Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Tallahassee– you name it. No luck. I called about one in KY. Well, the guy says, some church people are trying it out and will give him an answer by noon as to whether they would take it. I called him at 11:45. No answer yet. But after lunch the phone rang. Come on over, he says, the group didn’t put anything down on it but would vote on it Wed. night. He tole them no hold if no deposit. Ok, it seemed like our best option. Except for a small problem. None of us besides Samuel had more than a few dollar bills to rub together. He offered to lend all he’d earned in CO. Well, good start, we rejoiced. Fain and I knew what we had to do. Um, Kezia, do you have any extra cash lying around? She checked with Chris, who said sure why not, take ’em down to the bank and empty our account. We went down to hold up the bank– wait, no, they held US up for 20 min. while they raided the vault.

So now with funds to work with, Fain, Samuel and I took off in Larry’s Blazer for Princeton KY. They closed at 6, and we got there at 5:30. We checked ‘er over. We drove it down highway and street. Except for a cracked windshield, a rear fender buckled underneath a little bit, rear heater blower not working, no license plate light, and a buggered up interior, we could find no fault in her. We went inside to talk. The advertised price was $****.** We didn’t bring that much, so we put it to the test. We offered, How close to $**** would you come? The salesman huddled with another guy for minute, then came back to say, we’ll sell it to you for $****. Whoa! That was $1500 less than asking price, and lower than we had suggested. Just seemed that was the signal to go ahead. So we did. The rest, as they say, is history.


It was a one-owner van– a guy who dealt in antiques, so he took the seats out and basically never used them. So they are basically brand new. A lot of road miles (214,000) as he lugged his precious antiques from state to state. But it seems to be very well maintained, and has performed flawlessly to date. OH! It has cruise control! That’s nice on trips when you aren’t pulling a trailer.

Our insurance company called with their settlement– a little over $2600, for which we are grateful; it’s more than we could have sold it for, or gotten in trade-in value. They said it was so old (1998) that they it took extra time to figure out their figures. Go figure. We would challenge them, however, to replace it in our region for $2600.


Some of Aunt Kezia’s children were not feeling well so Candace and Samuel were able to entertain them.:)



Our first time to all ride in our new van. (Beside thePunxy Wes. Meth. church in Punxy, PA the next Sun. morning!)

I guess we will see you again in the next post!

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