My father was a construction worker until 1976, when he was hurt working in a major construction project. Before then he had a whole oral library of history to share with everyone. I can only recall a few of the stories, but I am willing to share what I remember.
There was a story he used to tell about a car pool trip that if it happened a few years before 1960 or after ‘911’ it would have got him killed along with everyone else in it the car. It was Friday night and my dad was driving home from a jobsite.
In the car were four other workers, their names escape me, if I even knew them in the first place. They needed to take a ferry home. Today, a bridge stands at the site call Vernita Bridge, but back then the only way to get across the Columbia River was a trip across the ferry.
When they turned the corner to the ferry they noticed a long line of travelers waiting to get on to the ferry. It wasn't long before dad found out that the ferry was broke down and no one had a clue when it would be repaired.
That’s when someone in the backseat of the car made a suggestion.
"Why don't we go across the back side of Hanford?"
Everyone paused for a few seconds to think about it.
"Well, that sounds like a good idea," said another voice from the backseat.
Dad at this point always stopped to point out it might have been the same guy that suggested it in the first place. But it really didn’t matter a few minutes in that line of angered commuters and my dad was ready turn that car around and head for the old side road across Hanford nuclear reservation.
They ignored the signs that read, "Trespassers will be shot"
The road was your basic dirt path. The weeds over grew it years before do the lack of use. Dad applied an ample amount of gas and the car hit 50 plus miles an hour. Plums of dust and dirt kicked up into the air as they sped down the dirt road. All was well, until they had travel about ten miles. When an airplane flew a crossed my dad’s path; he slid to a stop and the men jumped out of the car. They watched the plane bank back, but this time it landed on the road way.
Two men jumped out and produced weapons.
"Why are you here?" ordered a man with a gun.
"We just want to go home," someone said, probably the same guy that suggested that route.
They waited there for an hour as the pilot called in their names and waited for orders.
As I said before if this would have been in the 40's the gun emplacements would have blew that car into pieces. They built parts of the bomb that was dropped on Japan out there. If it would have been after '911' they would have found themselves in Cuba with a new black hoodie.
Lucky it was the 60's and my dad and his friends didn’t look like hippy protestors. The armed man came back to the car and told them that their only option was to head off the Hanford area as quickly as possible. If they stopped they wouldn't see daylight for months.
"What if we get a flat tire?" asked the familiar voice in the back seat.
"Just keep driving or you will be seeing me again," he answered them handing them their IDs and pointing to the closes exit. However, that was the direction they wanted to go in the first place.
That old car of my dad hit at least eighty on that little dirt road and they never saw the armed men, the plane or anyone else. But they all got the feeling that they were still being watched. When they made it home they found out the ferry started working again a few minutes after they had headed for the dirt road and destiny. If only they had waited in line like everyone else they would have saved them the trouble on the reservation, the long trip home around Hanford and the FBI file that had been started on them.
Then again if they had waited in that line, he wouldn’t have had that cool story to tell.