Musings from Moyieboy ...
A few tips on driving blind
April 20, 2017
By Ken Carpenter

In every family's history there are a few tales that get told and retold so much, embellished with every telling, that they actually seem to breathe a life of their own.

This is not one of them.

Somehow the facts about the daring deeds I am about to unfold escaped me until a measly 20 years ago.

Claiming the key performers as family may also be a slight stretch for the in-laws of a cousin, but I'm sure anyone would understand why I am eager to do so. Connections to the truly deranged should not be taken lightly, but savored like a fine wine.

From the 1920s to the 1950s or so, there was an amazing little family living in Southern Idaho. The names must be changed to protect the moronic, so I shall call them Uncle Arbuckle, Aunt Maizie and Piehole, their slow of wit son.

Arbuckle had learned to drive a car when used Model Ts first became affordable to the masses. Driving became the second most pleasurable and exciting experience of his life, although not nearly as exciting as it would become later.

It is totally unimportant, but his first joy was reputed to be women of all shapes and sizes, especially other men's wives.

Arbuckle's vision started failing fast as the Depression set in, reaching a point where he might have recognized an elephant's rump pressed up against the living room window. Then again, he may have called out “Hi Mom!” and offered the butt a cup of coffee.

Astoundingly, blindness did not deter the brave Arbuckle from performing the act he loved second most. He continued to drive the family car.

Maybe you did not hear what I just said.


The same brave man who could mistake a milk cow for his own Uncle Petey kept driving as if his inability to see the road was a mere inconvenience. Of course, he could not do so by himself. The even braver Maizie would ride shotgun, shouting frenzied directions as they pinballed their way down the road.

Just having one terrified navigator did not seem like a terribly fruitful situation, so the partially demented Piehole was the co-navigator. He would ride in the back seat, howling his version of the road conditions facing them.

His favored position was to lean over the seat until his head was closer to the windshield than either of the front seat occupants. From this vantage point he would holler such navigational tidbits as "My Gawd, Daddy, look out for that hay truck on the left!"

Surprisingly, the co-navigators did not always agree on their directions. Slaps to the head were not uncommon, accompanied by screams debating the car's proximity to the nearest ditch. It was left to the unflappable Arbuckle to decipher whose shrieks were the most convincing.

In this manner the little family happily, at least some of the time, cruised the countryside for three decades or more. Neither Maizie or Piehole ever learned how to drive, probably because Arbuckle had more faith in their screeching ability than their learning ability.

One can only imagine what ran through the minds of the neighbors who shared the roads with this threesome. Ulcers and shredded vocal cords must have run rampant in that neck of the woods.

A couple of times a year the family made the 60-mile drive to my grandparent's house. It was only an 18 or 20 hour trip, probably depending on if Piehole soiled himself from too many close calls. Ten to 20 miles of this journey wound along a narrow road 100 feet above the Snake River, prime soiling grounds if I am any judge.

They would stay a couple of relaxing days, then steer Arbuckle out to the car for the return trip. This was bound to be full of even more thrills and chills than usual, for they got the cliff side on the drive home.

The Arbuckle clan made one epic journey that should go down in history, shaming the exploits of amateurs like Marco Polo. They headed to Oklahoma one summer to visit some relatives whom they must have thought very highly of indeed.

Their destination was roughly 1,000 miles as the crow flies, unless the crow was blind and being steered by two bickering, neurotic crow relatives.

Their trip lasted most of the summer, but the funniest thing about it was they only stayed in Oklahoma for three days. I guess they just didn't like to wear out their welcome.

I regret that I know nothing about the eventual fates of Uncle Arbuckle, Aunt Maizie and Piehole. It is known that they did not die in a car crash.

One can only hope that Arbuckle died first so he did not have to lead a funeral procession with only one navigator.