When I was just a baby we lived in a very old house. One evening I was sitting on the floor, not far from a doorway. The door was an old fashioned hardwood door such as was made in the 1800's and was very heavy. Mom and Dad were sitting close by, and suddenly the door came loose and fell toward me. It crashed to the floor missing me by just a cat's whisker. Everyone understood clearly that I would have certainly been killed had the door landed on me. At that moment Dad had an unusual feeling that I was only spared because God had a purpose for me in living.
As far as brushes with death, things were pretty calm after that until I was about 12 years old. It was winter time when about four of us boys rode our bikes up through Cresaptown, somewhere around Pinto, where a cable crossed the Potomac river, and it had a little one man cable car on it. We all crossed the river into West Virginia and proceeded to climb the vertical cliff on the other side which rose about 700 feet. Well, we didn't get very far until we were all scared into a condition of sheer panic. To be hanging on a vertical cliff with no ropes, hanging by your toes and finger nails has to be about the most frightening experience one can have, and then you look down! In your wildest imagination there is no way you can imagine you will ever get out of this...you freeze there in fear to move at all, but sometime, somehow you have to. Somehow we all got down alive. It was very cold, and the large river was running solid with ice, very fast. It was deep from bank to bank with no shallows, and it was a long way across also. One by one each boy sat in the car and pulled himself across the river. I stayed and pulled the car back with a rope that was tied on it as each boy crossed, feeling guilty that I had gotten them into this mess, and hoping desperately they would all make it.
Finally, they all crossed and it was my turn. The river ran practically against the cliff, and there was no way to walk out of there. The cable car was the only way out. As I was pulling it back towards me, the rope that was tied to the cable car broke. The only way out was across the cable! It was getting late, and we never would have thought to have someone go for help. It never entered into our heads. We got ourselves there, and we had to get ourselves out. Besides, there was way too much ice to get a boat across. So I pulled myself up and laid on top of the cable with one leg hanging over for balance, and one leg kind of laying on top with the knee hanging over. It was difficult, for the cable wanted to turn and roll me over with the slightest imbalance. Very slowly..only inches at a time I pulled myself forward. As I got away from the shore, well out over the water...my face was straight down and all I could see was the ice rushing by. It made me feel dizzy and to fight that and keep balanced I had to go very slow. I began to freeze. I couldn't move my fingers, and my hand was stiff in it's grip around the cable. It began to snow very hard also, although I can't remember just when it started. I only remember once that I allowed myself to vividly imagine falling into the water. I realized I had to try not to picture that in my mind.
When I did get to the 'cable car', I didn't know if it was possible in my stiffness to let myself down into the frame, which wasn't much more than a board fastened to a little frame with a pulley on top. But I did, and the six or eight mile bike ride home in the snow was something I don't remember. I do remember being afraid to go in the door at home in the mess I was in, so I tried to sneak in the front door, which was a dead give away. We never entered in the front door. It must have been Sunday, because we had fried chicken for supper.