My dad has told me some pretty funny stories about my grandfather, John Cipko. It seems that my grandfather was not the best driver and of course back when my dad was growing up there were no seatbelt laws. Everyone just piled in the car and didn’t worry about buckling up. My dad recalls a time that some of the kids actually fell out of the car while his dad was driving. We laugh about it now, but if things had gone just a little differently it could have been a tragic story. I found this article published February 22, 1953 in the Independent Press-Telegram(Long Beach, CA) that sheds some light what may have actually happened. I believe my dad got some of the facts wrong because he was only 2 at the time.
John, Dorothy (Mike or Gary?) at the home on Pierce Ave.
Two Children Hurled, Six Hurt in Crash
Six persons, including two Lakewood children, were injured Saturday afternoon in a four-car smashup near San Pedro. The children were hurled from the auto in which they were riding, and police said two of the vehicles involved collided to avoid running over the youngsters.
One of the drivers, Clyde Oliphant, 39, of 1204 White Marsh St., Compton, was arrested by San Pedro police on suspicion of felony drunk driving. He was treated at San Pedro Receiving for abrasions.
The youngsters, Michael, 2 and Dorothy Cipko, 4, children of John Cipko, 39, of 4929 Pierce Ave., escaped with bruises.
Police said the accident started when cars driven by Oliphant and James H. Peebles, 429 W. Denni St., Wilmington, collided on Wilmington-San Pedro Rd.
The Oliphant car, police said, bounced off and then was in collision with one driven by William Faber, 27, of 6227 Keynote St., Lakewood. Cipko and his two children were in the Fabor car, police said.
Investigating officers reported that the auto driven by Edward G. Potter Jr., 236 W. 17th St., San Pedro, swerved to miss the two children, lying on the pavement and struck the Fabor vehicle.
Cipko suffered cuts and bruises. Fabor received a broken nose and facial cuts. Peebles and Potter both escaped injury.
A passenger with Oliphant, T.A. Brewer, 27, also of the 1204 White Marsh St., Compton, received face and head cuts.
Shortly before the four-car accident, four Compton and South Gate Sea Scouts figured in a spectacular traffic incident almost at the same location.
All escaped with minor cuts and bruises. None was hospitalized.
San Pedro police said the youth’s car, with Charles McCollum, 17, of 11412 S. Bahama Ave., Compton, at the wheel, veered off the highway, smashed down a signpost, hipped out a wire fence and overturned.
With McCollum, police said, were Russell Harrell, 17, of 1325 Stoneacre Ave., Compton; Jim Wilson, 14, of 1804 Diane Dr., Compton, and Bill Bammer, 17, of 3719 Liberty Blvd., South Gate.
This is not how I pictured things going down from the stories I was told. In my head, the kids were older when they “fell” out of the car. I always imaged them dusting themselves off and getting back in the car and laughing about it. Now that I know my aunt Dorothy was 4 and my dad was only 2 at the time, I am relieved that nobody was seriously injured.