December 1, 1963, we were on the second day of our honeymoon, traveling from Vancouver, Washington to southern California. We’d borrowed my parent’s car, a 1963 Ford Galaxie. They wanted us to be “safe” and our car was a ’49 Ford that didn’t show promising signs it could even get to the Oregon border let alone to the southern end of California.
The new car had a bench-type seat instead of bucket seats in the front and seat belts weren’t the law in 1963, consequently this car didn’t have them. We’d stopped at a service station to get gas in Pixley, California and it was my turn to drive, so my 6 ft. husband got in the backseat because I had to have the front seat forward as far as it would go in order to reach the pedals. I’m 5’2.”
It was dark when we got back on the road and the freeway was full of Thanksgiving, holiday travelers. As I drove on the on ramp to Highway 99, I could see it wasn’t going to be easy to merge as cars weren’t moving over to let me in and certainly slowing down is never an option for drivers flowing with the speed of traffic. I came to a full stop about 25 feet from the oncoming traffic and was waiting for a semi to pass when I heard my husband scream, “It’s going to hit us!!” as he reached around me from the back seat and cranked the steering wheel to the right (I had the wheel straight ahead to merge onto the freeway).