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Guts, Gumption—and Gum
Jennie Johnson Phinney
September 26, 1960
All three were needed when the author, a girl of 10, went on the Glidden Tour of 1911
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September 26, 1960

Guts, Gumption—and Gum

All three were needed when the author, a girl of 10, went on the Glidden Tour of 1911

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"Ridiculous!" he protested. "The penalty should be against the Maxwells for having hogged the road." The tour officials did not agree with him, however, and he lost round one to his opponents.

The next time the Stevens-Duryeas came upon the Maxwells, it was late afternoon on a mountain road just south of Roanoke. It was raining, as usual, and the situation screamed for caution. But the possibility of letting the Maxwells hog the road a second time was unthinkable to a man of my father's temperament. I could all but see the hairs begin to bristle on the back of his neck.

While Mr. Young vigorously pumped the bulb on our horn, Dad gave our engine the gun. Determinedly, skillfully—and miraculously—he and one of his teammates maneuvered past their rivals and down the road to our next check-in post.

But where was our third member? Precious minutes were ticking by, other cars were checking in and still there was no sign of him. Dad was pacing the floor of the hotel lobby, while Mother and I sat watching him and the door, longing only for the bliss of our own rooms and a hot tub.

My father almost had a stroke when the Maxwell gang came breezing in. They started to speak to him, then apparently thought better of it and turned toward a group of their friends. Dad consulted the official timekeeper. Then he jerked the muddy helmet from his head and angrily threw it onto the floor. "Confound it!" he exclaimed. "Here goes another penalty against our team."

Nine minutes later, while we were still in the lobby, tired, dirty and now definitely apprehensive, the offending crew arrived.

Dad pounced on the already dazed driver. "Well," he shouted, "what happened to you? Were you afraid to pass the Maxwells again?"

"No," his friend replied, "I passed them all right, but I went into a skid as I approached that flimsy plank bridge we had to cross. It is only by the grace of God that we weren't all killed. The guardrail split in two as we crashed against it. Luckily, we bounced off of it instead of going through it."

"Then what delayed you?" Dad inquired sardonically.

"We landed in the ditch on the other side of the bridge," the poor, weary man explained. "If one of the Pierce Arrows hadn't been in the same predicament I suppose we'd be there still. It took the lot of us to get both cars back onto the road."

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