I was 22, separated, going to NYU full-time, working part-time, doing volunteer work, living on Long Island with friends, and staying at my parents house for spring break.
My friend, Lanie, a high school teacher, picked me up, at 8:30 AM as we were going to the dentist in Garden City. We went via Jericho Turnpike which for two crazy minutes is in the Village of Old Westbury.
Compared to Old Westbury my suburban development community was poor. Sorta.
Jericho Turnpike has many lights and turn lanes. One second we were talking while smoking, and the next second I woke up, in the mangled car on the grass on the side of The Turnpike. I remember looking for the butts sure they would cause a fire.
“Lanie are you awake?” I kept screaming until she woke up a few minutes later. Gradually I noticed a car, not badly dented, in the median. The police finally came.
“Oh good,” I said to Lanie, “they’ll get us to a hospital.” But both police cars parked near the car in the median. The police talked to a middle aged woman who emerged from the car with a very angry look on her face.
Lanie moaned and mumbled. It took me awhile to understand that she was saying her arm and head hurt. Finally the police came.
“Get out of the car,” one yelled.
“She can’t,” I said, “she’s hurt.”
“I told you both to get out.” The policeman was angry. I didn’t care.
“I think she has a concussion. You should get an ambulance.” Being assertive was new to me as I was shy.
“Tell your friend to get out of the car. It has to be searched.” We watched the car being searched for what I assumed were drugs. My head hurt more and more. Lanie could barely stand.
They finally drove us to the Old Westbury police station. Instead of bringing us into the station they parked at a pay phone.
“Get out,” the policeman said to me, “make a phone call.”
I was in pain——a lot of pain. My neck hurt, I was dizzy and couldn’t see properly. My left knee felt detached from its socket. I looked at my pocketbook. The thought of opening it almost made me vomit.
“May I borrow a dime?” I asked the policeman.
“Get one from your pocketbook.” Somehow I found a dime without passing out. I called a number I knew well.
“Mommy? We’re OK I guess. We were in an accident. We’re at the Old Westbury Police Station.”
“I knew it. I knew there was something wrong when the dentist called. You never would stand-up an appointment.”
The policeman let us go into the station, and sit after I made the call, and said my mother was on her way.
My mother could drive fast when she needed to, and she was at the police station quickly. My petite adorable mother quickly assessed everything. I had never heard her speak so authoritively.
“Why didn’t you take my daughter and her friend to the hospital? Look at them? They’re hurt.”
My mother had us get in her car and said a few words to the police—all of them, including the police chief who had arrived from somewhere and were trying to placate and please my mother.
When we got to North Shore Hospital, Lanie was admitted with a fractured elbow and a concussion. My mother called Lanie’s parents in Coop City, The Bronx and said we would wait until they arrived.
A nurse spent hours taking shards of glass out of my long very thick hair that had gone into the windshield instead of my head. I had a possible concussion. The pinched nerve in my neck still hurts at times, and I had to kick my knee back into its socket for years.
If my mother hadn’t come we would have been kept at the police station for hours. They would have had time to plant something——I didn’t trust any police in Nassau County then for good reasons. I would have been busted. For what? Going to the dentist?
But my mother had a daughter to save. And she didn’t have to call in the cavalry. I had a new hero who I generally called mommy.
My parents did find out the whole story from a friend who knew….The woman was a well-known judge’s wife. She told the police we were smoking dope and insisted the police search the car or she would call her husband and…. Later my lawyer tried to get police reports about the accident. They were all missing.