Once a year, behind the wheel of a 1953 356 Porsche, shifting gears manually, plying US Rt 1 rapidly.
The five foot, low to the ground, vertically challenged Houlton Maine woman left town. Pointed her car south. Covering ground quickly on her mecca, bee line to Washington County. In search of pie the annual mission. A slice of fresh, native Maine blueberry pie.
Riding with the driver of German descent a local girlfriend along for the jaunt in shot gun position.
Both wearing seat belts. The pair hankering, equipped with the same sweet tooth. DNA gene passion for Maine wild barren berries. Helen’s in Machias Maine the destination marked by the red map push pin. To end up sliding into a booth for two plates of heated dessert and coffee.
The only son and sole child gets a phone call from the Washington County Sheriff’s department.
The conversation starts with do you own a Porsche? Yes, the answer, but not me personally. My mother does. Is your mother there, could you hand the phone over to her sonny? No, she’s somewhere between here and the coast of Maine, Downeast. What’s the problem, what’s up officer?
Silence. The son thinks the worst. Starts to sit down, as he cradles the phone between his neck and shoulder. Mind beginning to race reaching out for a kitchen chair from the ready and waiting half dozen. Stretches the call cord tether, locates, takes a seat. Prepares for whatever comes next.
Seems Mom had outrun the Washington County Sheriff’s patrol. Left them behind, pulling away from the pursuing cruiser at a high rate of speed. But not before the highway patrol scribbled down the Maine three digit plate number. Screwed, secured on the sloped sleek shiny polished back end of the European roadster. Outside, over the louvered trunk hood where the twin carburetor high output engine called home. Lived, produced, churned out plenty of horsepower.
The Porsche designed with plenty of get up and go for the sky’s the limit speeds on one of Hitler’s better visions, the Autobahn.
Not Maine’s US Rt 1 twisting country lane highway. The challenging ribbon that snakes along the rock bound, craggy, jagged Vacationland coastline.
The mother with the metal to the pedal, working the brake, clutch, steering. Aware of tachometer RPM levels, gravity and the forces of the other laws of physics. Working, demanding much from the syncromesh transmission with the gear stick sequence lower to higher on straight aways. Vice versa downshifting the other direction into the curves, dips, hills. Nimbly evading police before sirens, flashing lights, any of pull over devices even thought of being toggled. Turned on, even activated. It was brief, happened so fast. Was over.
Clocked at speeds of 110 miles per hour and climbing.
Before the guys with star pointed badges, a holster with 32 special Colt firepower and dressed for the part shook their heads in disbelief. As they lost sight of the Porsche. She was gone, history. The son explained that what Mom did was wrong. But said he had just one question for the Washington County Sheriff’s department. The patrol car was unmarked correct? Well, yes. Yes it was. No gum ball machines perched on top. Or black and white color scheme to help Mom obey the posted speed limit. Why was that distinction important, pertinent to explain the outrunning the long arm of the law?
The son explained that whenever the Porsche was taken for a spin in the Houlton Maine area, repeatedly local teenagers, drivers with high powered American made Maine muscle cars had Mom’s Porsche in their cross hairs. Wanting to race. The sweet taste of winning a quarter mile or longer Aroostook County course too hard to pass up.
Mom was used to seeing the approaching challenges in her rear view mirror. Wore her German honored heritage of fierce love, the proud reputation for finely engineered auto performance from Germany. But she did not realize it was the police, probably running scared to stay ahead. It was fear doing the AJ Foyt, over the top, a perfect ten driving display. Like the rabbit when the fox with the tongue hanging out trots near. Fight or flight. She reached for the latter, the walnut knob stick. Down shifted, studied the tack swing. Quickly the needle dancing into the red line region. And got to work. Telling her co pilot to hang on to something.
The knee jerk reaction to the unmarked police cruiser did not hurt their sting, but explained why the high speed, short and sweet race.
Mom sensed, never backed down from a challenge when she knew the racers in her hometown. Rose to the occasion out of habit. The son was told to warn his Mom when she spun in to the driveway, returned home safe and sound to cool her jets. To never pull a stunt like that again. When the urge for wild blueberry pie at Helen’s struck her fancy again. And a quick trip Downeast to Machias behind the wheel of the Porsche to enjoy a summer day in Washington “The Sunrise” County was in the travel plan cards.
How does this story end?
Mother passed away as they all do, like the rest of us. The car sold to a Blue Hill Maine lumber yard owner along with a trunk full of duplicate imported parts. With a note signed by the new owner on the dotted line. That “Mother” as the son called the car, would be cared for, respected. And not being bought to flip, for profit. But for he and his wife to enjoy, hang onto and keep preserved as they motored around the scenic highways of Maine. Displaying especially good driving manners. Obeying laws in particular when in Washington County. Where the car has a reputation in police circles, around water cooler conversations.