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Hunter: There's Many A Slip

11/23/09 7:55AM By Edith Hunter
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(HOST) On the day after Thanksgiving, people around the country are invited to participate in the second annual National Day of Listening. As part of that effort, this week VPR commentators will be telling some of their own favorite family stories - like this one from Edith Hunter - about how a family tradition was born - when an old car died.

(HUNTER) It was 1954 and we were living south of Boston. We had recently bought our first car, a Ford coupe, from my brother-in-law. It had a generous number of miles on it already, but was adequate for our needs - getting my husband, Armstrong to the station for his daily commute to Boston, and the children and me around town.

This year we decided to venture a little further afield, and drive to Weathersfield, Vermont, for Thanksgiving with Aunt Margaret and Aunt Mary. It was a trip of about 5 hours. There was as yet no I-91, but the roads were good.

We got an early start and things went well. We stopped at about the half-way point so we could rearrange our seating. For the remainder of the trip nine year old Elizabeth and seven-year old Graham would be in the back seat and I would sit in front with one year old William in my lap. It was BC - before Charles.

After driving through Springfield we went up Valley Street and came to the only remaining long hill between us and our destination. About half-way up I said to my husband, "Well, we made it."

And he said, "There's many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip."

At which point the car slowed, came to a stop, and seemingly died.

We sat and waited, and wondered what to do. Of course, there weren't any cell phones.

Armstrong reached over and, with little hope, turned the starter. After an apologetic cough It started up, and holding our collective breaths, we resumed our journey. We hailed Mt. Ascutney as it rose up before us, greeted the old brick church, and drove in the driveway to the Aunts with a story to tell.

In the 55 years that we have been driving up the long hill from Springfield to this house, as we pass that spot, I don't think any one of us fails to say: "There's many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip."

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