Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

My mind often snaps a picture and no matter how many years pass I can still picture the occasion as vividly as if it just happened, or in some cases is happening.

One of those mental snapshots was taken when I was in fifth grade or so, in other words a very long time ago. I went to a Christian school and on days I didn’t have detention, which were very few and quite far between, my sisters and I could take the bus home. The bus wasn’t your typical school bus though, it was a Dodge van, much like the one pictured above. As you can see in the picture, this van did not have a sliding rear door but had two doors that opened out. Whoever was fortunate to be sitting on the end of the first rear seat had the audaciuos privilege of closing the door when we were ready to roll.

On this particular day, I had the coveted seat. We kept the door open until our driver had gotten in and we were literally ready to leave. Our driver was a happy man, he was always happy and smiling and this day was no exception. He hops in the van, looks in the back and says, “All ready?” That was my cue to half rise from my seat and close the van door.

I braced my left hand on the van wall while leaning out and grabbing the door with my right and swinging it shut. And then I proceeded to start screaming bloody murder. I had slammed my left thumb in the hinge of the door. Now when I say slammed my thumb in the door, I don’t mean a little bit, I mean my whole thumb was in the hinge part of the van door.  Because when I do something, I firmly believe in doing it right and all the way. No little wimpy door slamming on my poor thumb, I did it right.

I can still see myself closing the door, I can hear my screams and see the horror on the children’s faces. I can see the driver turn and look at me and then he flings open his door and runs around the front of the van to open the side door from the outside and rescue me.  He led me inside and to the kitchen where he got me small bowl of water for soaking my thumb in and offering me a piece of cake. There was a cake of sorts on the table. What I didn’t realize was the cake was a sponge cake. Or it was a cake shaped sponge covered with frosting. It had been a gag gift for one of the teachers. When he left the kitchen I,of course, had to try a piece. Only the darn thing wouldn’t cut.

And I realized it wasn’t a real cake. But it was covered in real frosting. So I finger ate frosting until my mom was ready to go home.

That man, the driver, currently lives in the mountains of Wyoming. The mountains around Laramie Peak. Last Friday morning his home of 30 years burned to the ground. They were able to get a few household items out but everything else is gone.

Picture of their house from 2008.

As you can imagine they have many needs. If you are able and willing to help, please contact me at and I’ll let you know how you can help.



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