View Full Version : How to push start a car

Moses Yoder
09-30-2012, 2:04 PM
How to Push Start a Car

By: Moses Yoder, son of Daniel A. Yoder,
The main character.

A narrative based on a true story.

Aproximately 15-20 minutes read: sugggested to get your favorite drink, maybe coffee or a Sailor Jerryís Delight from Outback Steakhouse when you have 20 minutes or so and sip the drink contemplatively while reading.

I would encourage you to read the whole story; the beginning is some background and not as interesting but the part about how to push start a car is worth reading if you ever find yourself in a situation with a car that doesnít start.
The story begins on February 11th, 1934. On that breezy spring day in Mississippi a husband Andrew had a young Amish wife, Emma, who gave birth to the little baby they named Daniel. His last name was Yoder , very common among the Amish and yet here was an uncommon young man. He grew up as poor as the Irish potato farmers during the famine of 1845-49, in a household of fourteen other children. He learned at a young age that he had to care for himself or do without. His father was a task master, driving the children to work and throwing things at them if they werenít moving fast enough. He was sent to a one room Amish school house to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic and left to fend for himself there as well. At some point they moved to Tennessee, but nothing really changed that much for Daniel. At the age of 14 he had made it about halfway through the books for the fourth grade but he was now old enough to get a job. Education was not important; earning a living was.

He was built like a bull and went to work at a sawmill. They cut a lot of railroad ties there in those days and by the age of 16 he could carry them around by himself. I have a hard enough time picking up one end of a railroad tie. His mother warned him he would ruin his back but Daniel was a young invincible man, full of life, and didnít see what the future held.

On June 25th, 1950, Dan would have been 16 years old when an event occurred that changed his life forever. This was the beginning of the Korean war, when a draft was instituted. You have to understand my father was a part of the Schwartzentruber Amish, the strictest Amish sect there is. The church was totally opposed to any involvement with the war, and Dan was sent to Canada to avoid the draft. While there he lived with a relative and cut pulp logs, going into the woods in -20į weather to cut wood and warming up so much they took their coats off. He also tells stories of hunting the Canadian Jack rabbit. When the war was over in July of 1953 or shortly after Dan and a cousin decided to make the trip to Ohio where their grandfather had lived. The church rules concerning courtship were a little more liberal there and Dan was getting to the age where he was looking for his partner. He found work as a painter there.

He lived there for some time, enjoying the freedom away from his parents, finding plenty of work as a painter working on barns. A ruggedly handsome young man with a wild side he enjoyed racing his buggy, once having a near escape from death when his right wheel didnít quite clear a large cement post at the beginning of a bridge. Then without warning one day, on top of a barn roof, tragedy struck. Dan lost his footing. He began sliding and went off the edge of the roof, probably falling about 16 feet head first, putting out his hands to break the fall. Both wrists were broken and had to be put into casts. Otherwise he was okay, with minor bumps and bruises, but with both wrists broken he couldnít even feed himself, much less get dressed, etc. He had one relative in Ohio and asked her if he could move in with them and get the help he needed to recuperate.

He moved into the house of Christian Yoder, whose wife had died some time back and he had been remarried to Lovina, who was Danís aunt. Christianís first wife Mary had a number of children, and one in particular who helped take care of him caught his eye. She was born Elizabeth on September 2, 1939, just 5-1/2 years younger than Dan. Romance blossomed as she nursed him back to health, a story for a different day. At some point after he was able to work again Dan went back to painting, saving his money to buy a butcher shop. Dan had some experience in butchering from Tennessee and ran the shop long enough to earn the nickname Butcher Danny, which he is still called to this day.

Somewhere in here Dan and Elizabeth got married, while he was running the butcher shop. They bought a small shack with a dirt floor where their first daughter, Martha, was born. During this time an opportunity arose for Dan to sell the butcher shop and buy a saw mill. Dan had extensive experience with the saw mill and did well with it. This was a time of modest prosperity for Dan & Elizabeth; you could buy a heaping cart full of groceries for $10. They had no utilities, just bought oil for the lamps and cut wood for the stove so the only thing they had to pay for was groceries. Most of these were produced in a garden, and meat was butchered by themselves. They didnít earn much, but living like they were it was like I said; modest prosperity. Their first son, Andrew, was born during this time and later a daughter Susie.

During this time working on the sawmill my dad became friends with an English man named Kline, a major character in the story to come. When I say English man I donít mean someone from England. To the Amish, everyone who is not Amish is English. Kline was a little rough around the edges, a chain smoker, and hit it off with Dan right away. They became good friends.

Dan, who was later to be my dad, was a little frustrated with the church already. One rule in the church was that you could only have a rule pocket on your pants if you needed one. My dad ran a saw mill, so he thought he needed one. His father-in-law saw this and told him he didnít need a rule pocket and made his wife take them all off the pants. Now Dan had to store his rule somewhere out of all the dirt and then walk back to get it every time he needed to measure something on the saw mill. Like I said, frustrating. Another rule was they could not owe any money to stores in town. At some point my aunt Mattie, my momís brother Rudyís wife, who must have lived nearby, stopped by in her buggy and asked Elizabeth if she needed anything in town. Elizabeth said she did need a few things from the grocery store and asked her just to put it on their tab at the store. Well, this was too good an opportunity for Mattie; she had to go tell the preachers that Dan had a tab at the store. The church started making a lot of trouble for Dan and he decided he had enough; it no longer made any sense. He was done with the Amish.

Later on Dan would buy a car and learn how to drive, at one time even being a professional truck driver and later on a very reliable taxi driver for the Amish. He was never trained to drive by a professional but took to it readily and drove with very few tickets and accidents his whole life. However this story takes place before that experience behind the wheel. In fact, this is the first time my dad ever drove a car, and very nearly the last time.

I am 45 years old now and I was to hear pieces of this story my entire life. I never heard the entire story until circumstances came together in such a way that I was at my parents house on September 3, 2012 with no other guests. I was sitting there drinking a cup of coffee and the thought just popped into my head. If I got my dad to tell the whole story and let me take notes I could write it up so it would be told for future generations. I asked him, and he said ďYouíre going to make so much fun of me, no way.Ē I was a little disappointed but decided just to enjoy the time together, not knowing how long it will last, and took a sip of my coffee. After a few minutes of thinking about it he realized this was his chance to tell his side of the story and not have it exaggerated by someone else, so he agreed. I went to get a pen and paper and he asked what I was doing and I stated I was taking notes to write the story. This almost put an end to it again, but he finally started.

Dan and Elizabeth had left the Amish church and moved into their friend Klineís house with the three children. My mom would soon be pregnant with me, but this occurred the year before I was born. This is the year 1966. Klineís wife Elnora needed some things at the store, and mom had gone with her. I assume the three children went along and the two men were at home alone, Kline and my dad. In the driveway sat an Olds 88 with a dead battery. When the ladies returned from their shopping trip Kline planned on having Elnora drive the car while he pushed it with his truck to start it. So Dad and Kline sat there smoking and drinking coffee, waiting for the women to return so they could start the car. And waiting. You know how women and shopping go together; the Bible talks about how time stood still one day, and I am reminded of this whenever I go shopping with my wife. So they sat there waiting, and my dad finally got tired of it. He had an idea.

Dad suggested to Kline ďIf we push the car out on the road, I can push it with your truck and you can drive the car.Ē Keep in mind my dad had never driven a car before. If Kline had followed my dadís suggestion, there would never have been a story. The car would have started with Kline driving, dad would have stopped the truck, and they would both have been driven back to Klineís house with no incident. Instead, Kline thought it would work better if Dad drove the car and he pushed it with his truck. So they finished their cigarettes and went outside. They maneuvered the car out onto the road, a gravel road, and put the truck right behind it. Dad rolled the window down and Kline walked up and instructed him to turn on the key and put it in drive. There is some confusion about the gas pedal; I think Kline told dad to push the gas down and dad assumed he meant to the floor. At any rate, dad pushed the gas to the floor and held it there. This was an automatic transmission so the car would need to be pushed up to about 30 miles per hour before the transmission kicked in and turned over the engine.

Kline walked back to his truck and got in, revved the engine a bit then put it into drive. Dad was a little excited; I understand the feeling because I have the same reaction. When I get excited, there is a slight disconnect between my body and my brain. This happens to me because I am bipolar; I am not sure why it happens to my dad. It was his first time driving a car. Kline took off slowly, going faster and faster. When they were going about 30 miles per hour dad felt the car shake a little and take off. Due to the brain disconnect he wouldnít realize until it was all over that the car started at this point. He thought he was still being pushed so he held the gas to the floor.

The car picked up speed rapidly. It was a dirt road so all Dad saw in the mirror was dust. The window was down and the wind whipping in until Dad got nervous and waved his arm out the window for Kline to slow down. He had no way of knowing Kline was a quarter mile behind him wondering what was going on. In a very short time he was going 60 miles per hour. When the car hit 70 the rear end lost traction and started drifting to the left. Dad instinctively corrected by turning the wheel to the left and the back started coming around to the right. He turned to the right to correct. By now he was probably going about 80 and when the back started coming around to the left again he saw himself heading straight for a telephone pole with a field behind it. He turned to the left to miss the pole hard enough that the car tilted up on 2 wheels. He went past the telephone pole and into the field on 2 wheels, losing some speed and adjusting the steering to run though the field parallel to the road. He started picking up speed again when he saw the end of the field approaching. He saw that there was no way he could turn to the right hard enough to stay in the field at the speed he was going.

Dad knew he would cross the road at the end of the field. He saw a slight ditch before the road and headed for it with the gas still on the floor. Coming down the road that dad was about to cross was Klineís insurance adjuster. Iím quite sure he never imagined he would see anything like this; a client of his insurance company on a mad chase through a hay field, about to give the Dukeís of Hazard a run for their money. At any rate, in fear for his life, he came to a halt. He watched as Dad hit the ditch and the car was sent airborne across the road, never hitting the road, into a complete strangerís front yard face first.

The jolt from hitting the ditch had knocked Dadís foot off the gas pedal. He came to a stop in the yard. Dad sat there a little stunned, gathering his wits and slowly realizing the steering wheel was bent forward and ruined and the gear shift leaver had been broken off. He wasnít sure what to do so he just sat there waiting. Kline soon caught up with him and parked his truck on the road, got out and walked up to the open driverís window. He put his head down and looked inside and calmly said ďYou better turn off that engine.Ē

That was the wake up call for my dad. He suddenly put it all together; when the car had started and he was no longer being pushed, almost losing control of the car, and the flight across the road; he suddenly realized the engine had been running that entire time.

Jim Koepke
09-30-2012, 2:27 PM
That was a good chuckle.

Good that no one was hurt.


Sam Murdoch
09-30-2012, 5:23 PM
Funny now but I was sure scared for your Dad as I read the story. :eek:. Good ending.