421. It was 48 years ago today

I had been at Juilliard for only two weeks.

The telephone rang. I had a major crush on the young lady who was on the other end of the call. She lived in Detroit, Michigan and was inviting me to come visit her & hear the Detroit Symph play Beethoven's Seventh.

It sounded like a plan.

After the concert, we went out to Royal Oak to check out a party for her friend, an up-and-coming young actor. Great party.

At 1 AM, we left in a 1952 Lincoln -- a huge car, roomy with no seat belts.

We were cruising down I-75, going back to Detroit. I didn't know the driver or his friend, but they were both sober. I was in the back seat with my friends, sitting in the middle with Joe V on my right and Karen M on my left ... [put on the scary music] ...

I was resting my head on Karen's shoulder. The very last thing I remember is James Taylor on the radio:

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you ...

That's it. That's all I remember ...

*******************************

What apparently happened next was this:

The man in the car behind us, an insurance salesman, was very very drunk. In fact, he was sound asleep. His head was probably slumped over the steering wheel, and his car was traveling at around 90 MPH. The driver of our car never saw him coming ... didn't see his headlights ... nothing.

Despite the fact that he was sound asleep, his car was more or less perfectly lined up with our vehicle. Perhaps a slight tilt to the right ...

When he hit us at 90 MPH, his car virtually sailed over the trunk of the Lincoln and his front fender probably smashed through the back windshield and hit me square in the back of my head.

Ironic. The lack of seat belts in the Lincoln probably saved my life. The impact of fender to back of head probably drove my entire body down to the floor of the back seat, where I was later found in a tight, curled up fetal position. If I had been wearing a seat belt, the collision probably would have decapitated me, because my body would have remained strapped in, while the force of the collision would have cut right through my head, ripping it off my torso.

Both cars began to spin through the air, perhaps as many as six or seven complete spins, until they crashed down on the berm of the right side of the interstate highway.

Miraculously, the drunk was uninjured, and my four friends were either ejected from the car, or were able to force open the doors and get out -- no one else was seriously injured.

They quickly realized that I was not standing there with them. Neither Joe or Karen could ever pull themselves together enough to describe what they saw when the paramedics pulled me from the car, but I no longer had a nose, and each and every bone in my face (other than my forehead) was either shattered or splintered into hundreds of tiny pieces.

One of the paramedics stole a ring I got for my Bar Mitzvah.

I was taken to William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, and later air-ambulanced to Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh. I remember very little of those days.

Dr. William Garrett gave me a new face, with Teflon floors for my eye sockets and metal wires which hold my cheekbones and jaws together. I am still wearing this face 48 years later, but I cannot get an MRI.

My nephew was born a few days later. He'll be 48 in a few days!

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