The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa on March 9, 1965 · Page 13
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The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa · Page 13

Algona, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, March 9, 1965
Page 13
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Farm and Home readers are fast becoming fervent followers of the articles written by Pete Simone (Prison Number 87776). In this issue of Farm and Home Section, Pete tells the true story of a fellow prisoner who landed in the Michigan State Prison following a hit and run accident in which a very young girl lost her life. We know you will read this article as YOU have read the other articles appearing in Farm and Home Section which have been authored by Mr. Simone-"Detour to the Stars," "Watch Out For Want Ad Artists," and "Nobody Votes In My Town." The Editors Convict Author Writes Another for ffie Foces of Tragedy! by A Convicted Hit-and-Run Killer As Told to Pete Simone Face it or not, it is a fact that every time you leave your car unlocked you are inviting major tragedy to haunt and torment some human being, quite possibly yourself. Proof lies in this reflection on the faces of tragedy in my case. The first face is mine. Once it was a nice face; handsome, clean-cut, unmarked by lines of tragedy and hate. Indeed, two years ago it was among the happiest faces alive, especially one morning when it kissed... The second face, Nancy's. We had been married 18 months and the honeymoon had only begun. "Joe," Nancy said, walking me out to our jalopy, "in spite of our bambino- in-seven-months-to-be, we can afford a better car now." Nancy knew I was hankering for a yearling hardtop. I bought one after work that evening and was almost home with it when I was stopped by ... The third face, Robin's. At first, all I saw was a sedan backing down a neighbor's driveway. It appeared to be driverless. But suddenly a sun of hair rose from the driver's seat. Robin was at the wheel! A fledgling of five, Robin was the undisputed darling of our block, a curlytop who delighted neighbors as readily as her namesake's song. The crash sprang a door and sent Robin flying, curls foremost, to the pavement. Her doll landed nearby. Unseen, but forcefully felt, was ... The fourth face—the overwhelming face of fear. It screamed these unforgettable words: "You've killed her! Turn this car around and get outta here, fast!" Prodded by panic, I obeyed and thus invited... The fifth face, which belonged to a cop. Later, in a courtroom, I faced... The sixth face, that of a mother who had recently interred her only child. She testified: "We were going shopping. Robin was impatient, so J told ner to take Mimi, her doll, and go wait in the car. A moment later I heard Robin's last words. 'Since you're such an old slowpoke, Mommie,' she called from the car, 'I guess I'll just have to take Mimijand drive to' the supermarket without you!'" Many eyes shimmered in flash-flood tears. I wept, too. "But it wasn't Joe's fault," Robin's mother continued, dabbing at her eyes. "Robin enjoyed playing in the car so much that I refused to recognize any great danger in this. Somehow, she must have shifted the car into neutral, allowing it to coast into Joe's path." Her defense of me was abetted by... The seventh face, Robin's father's. "Joe is a fine man, a good neighbor," he said. "He loved our Robin and doubtlessly would have died himself rather than harm her. Besides, gone. What possible good can come of sending -Joe to prison P More defense came from... The eighth face, my employer's. "Joe is a valued asset to our company," he said. "Always eager to do more than asked, and do it well, Joe has won two promotions in three years." But all of this counted for naught, thanks to... The ninth face, the judge's. "If I had my way," he began, "no driver, regardless of his standing in his community, would ever get a second chance to hit and kill and run. Unfortunately, the maximum term for manslaughter is fifteen years." That sentence eventually brought me up against... The tenth face, that of my cellblock guard. He paused at my cell this morning to comment on the weather. I ignored him. Finally, turning to walk on, he remarked, "You sure got a hate hangover, ain't ya?" Yes, I've got a hate hangover. But I knew genuine remorse—until that day, five months after my trial, when this same guard handed me a telegram. Tragic details came later. A thief was in a hot car engaging police in a wild chase when he sideswiped an oncoming car, lost control, jumped a curb and mowed down three shoppers. One shopper never got up again. In her dying move, my Nancy had reached to clutch the layette she had just bought for our baby- to be. The car that killed her had been left unlocked, keys in the ignition switch.

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