The Accident


It is funny the things you remember.

I was a junior in high school. During spring break, I went on an extended camping trip with my dad to visit nine college campuses in hopes to narrow my preferences. It was a profitable but tiring trip (I ultimately decided upon Westminster College in New Wilmington PA) and we were both glad to be heading home. We were about twenty miles from our house on Interstate 95 when our rear tire exploded. From then, everything seemed to go into slow motion (even though we were traveling around 65 mph.)

All of our camping gear was loaded into the back of our trusted Ford Fairlaine station wagon. When we lost the tire, we drifted into the left lane and as our luggage and camping gear shifted in the back, we lost control of the now unbalanced car which spun around 180 degrees so we were facing the oncoming traffic as we slid back across the 3 lanes of the highway and onto the shoulder and adjacent hillside.

After checking to make sure I was ok and giving thanks that we did not impact any other vehicles, my dad came up with the game plan. He would stay with the car and our possessions while I flagged down a motorist and catch a ride to the next exit where I would arrange for a tow truck to get us off the highway. I was also tasked with finding a pay phone to call home and tell my mother that we had been in an accident. This was before the age of cell phones.

No matter how nonchalant you try to sound, when you call collect to tell your mother that you’ve been in an accident, you should prepare yourself for a world of worry and concern to come your way. I tried to convey that we were ok and just needed a ride home but I’m not sure she believed me.

In just under an hour, my mother raced into the gas station where our car was brought. She was wearing a housecoat, slippers and I remember distinctly, a pair of ankle socks with puffy pom poms sewn above the heels. As she hurried anxiously to us, our well-being her only concern, I reacted as only an oblivious teenager could.

“Jeez, Mom… Did you have to wear those socks?”

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.


Pinball Wizard


There are some customers with whom I feel a close affinity. Yesterday I had one in my studio. He was about my age, and as we were discussing some of the memories he wanted me to preserve for him, he started triggering some of my own memories.

I honestly don’t remember how this came up in conversation but I shared with him how, when I was in high school, my buddy Gary and I used to climb into one of our cars and, from our home in Rockville Maryland, drive nearly 30 miles to Frederick Maryland. Why you may ask? To go to a bowling alley in order to play a pinball machine.

It made perfect sense to us at the time. In the early 70s, in Rockville, the pinball machines gave you 2 games for a quarter. But in Frederick, at least at this particular bowling alley, a quarter gave you three games. Plus, if you hit high score… you’d get a free game added. And as you accumulated more points, you would be rewarded with more free games.

There were times when Gary and I would play that pinball machine all night long on just one quarter.  Our trips to Frederick became more and more frequent. Because we were both athletes, Gary had the bright idea one day that instead of spending the gas to drive up to Frederick, we should simply run up there. After all, it was just a little more than a marathon (which, by the way, neither of us had ever attempted). Being a teenager and therefore devoid of common sense, I quickly agreed and we made plans to leave early the next Saturday morning.

That Saturday I was waiting on the designated corner that was to be our meeting place. No Gary. I found out later that his parents had planned a family outing that he couldn’t get out of. There were no cell phones at that time so he couldn’t call me.

So I set off without him. Three hours into the “run” I realized that I had made a huge mistake but I was too stubborn to quit. I settled into a “run for a while, walk for a while” strategy. Nearly 8 hours later I arrived at the bowling alley. I played one game of pinball just so I could say I did and then prepared to head back.

Only then did it hit me that a marathon ends after 26.2 miles. I, however, was only halfway there. I still had 30 miles in front of me to go in order to get home.

Thank goodness I grew up in a time when hitchhiking was a tad bit safer than it is now.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit