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A Cold Day in Logan, Ohio

by Mike Cannell, CBS Orlando Evening

The following is a true story and one that impressed upon my father (Nick Cannell) that God saves in mysterious ways.  This story takes place in Columbus Ohio in 1945 during the month of December.  The day of the incident described below was one of the coldest days my father can remember and after reading this story you may conclude that for Nick (my father) “it was a cold day in hell”.

Chapter I – The Unwanted Trip to Logan 

During my father’s senior year at Central High, his friend “Asbury” approached him in the hallway and persuaded him and another one of his friends, Bob, to drive to Logan, Ohio to visit some of Asbury’s old friends (Asbury had lived in Logan at one time).  Nick, however, had never been to Logan and had no desire to go there. Being Friday night, Nick had a date with a pretty young girl to watch his high school friend play basketball for Central High that evening.  Furthermore, after the game, Nick had to report to work at his Father’s bakery at the stroke of midnight (Friday night was the busiest night at the bakery and Nick would not want to disappoint his father by being late).  Bob also did not want to go to Logan.  However, Asbury was a persuasive fellow and if you didn’t go along with him, he was known to beat the snot out of you.  Knowing of Asbury’s past beatings to those who resisted his will, they decided it was best for their well being to take the trip to Logan.

Asbury promised to have Nick home well before the basketball game and not to worry about the clock.  So around 1pm, off they went to Logan in an old 1943 Ford Rumbler (that’s a car that has a seat outside and one inside). This car was borrowed from another buddy “Joe”, who, by the way was smart enough not to join them on this journey.  The car was small and all three had to share the front seat - my father being the smallest of the three enjoyed the middle position.  The weather turned colder and colder and snow and ice began to form on the roads.

 

Chapter II – The Accident

The boys from Central High arrived in Logan around 4:30 pm.  When Asbury reached his destination, they found themselves in a neighborhood where Asbury’s friends had lived.  Asbury got out of the car and told Bob and Nick to wait inside the car until he returned.  After waiting for sometime, Nick was bored and decided to move over to the driver’s side to take the car for a “spin” (no truer word than “spin” could describe this short trip as will be seen).  Nick, however, had never driven a car before.  Even though he was 18, he had no licenses or previous driving experience. His parents could not afford a car and Nick never had the opportunity to practice. 

Nick started the car and began to drive.   It seemed easy at first until he began to accelerate to speeds that he had no business reaching on icy/snowy roads.  His friend Bob warned him that he was driving too fast at which time Nick hit the brakes with too much pressure and found himself and the car spinning in the middle of the road until the front left side of the Ford struck the back fender of a parked car.

With no license or ability to repay for the damages incurred (and not wanting to find themselves in trouble with the law) the first brilliant thought shared by both Nick and Bob was to flee from the scene of the accident.  Bob Mercer told Nick “Let me get behind the steering wheel and try to get out of here before someone sees us”, as there was no witness around at that moment in time. Although Bob tried to drive the car away, unfortunately for them, the front left fender of the Ford (where the impact took place) rubbed against the tire and Bob was unable to free the car quick enough to escape without notice.  Soon thereafter, the son and daughter of the owner of the struck parked car, were coming home and quickly figured out what had occurred and began to yell for their dad to come outside, and he did. Immediately thereafter, Asbury returned to the car and began to laugh, finding the entire episode to be quite humorous.  Nick, however, found no humor in the situation, as evidenced from his look of panic and troubled spirit.

 

Chapter III – No License & No Police Report – Miracle #1

The police were called and they quickly arrived.   The investigating officer asked who drove the Ford and Nick admitted that it was he.  The amazing thing during the police inquiry, is that the Officer never asked to see Nick’s drivers license (Miracle #1) – and that was a good thing, since Nick did not have a driver’s license to show.  The officer didn’t even ask him if he was old enough to drive, which was surprising since Nick could pass for a 14 year old. Also, the police officer didn’t even fill out an accident report (Part of Miracle #1).  Instead, he allowed Nick to work out the compensation for the damage directly with the owner of the struck car.  It turned out that the owner of the car was the owner of used car parts and turned out to be a decent fellow.  It was agreed that he would send the bill for the damage to Nick’s house for payment. 

Nick left the scene with no ticket for reckless driving or for driving without a license and best of all there was no official record of the incident.  Almost like it didn’t happen.  Nick was glad of course that the police were so lax about their duties, but quite concerned how he would pay for the damage of this man’s car and the damage of the car he was driving (Joe’s) without a cent to his name. 

 

Chapter IV – The Cold Ride Back Home 

Things did not get better soon after the police left.  Asbury made the evening worst by agitating about a dozen kids from the Logan neighborhood.  To escape a group beating, the three of them jumped into the car and drove away as fast as they could, but not until one of the Logan boys threw a rock-filled snowball at the car that shattered the rear window.  Fortunately, they were not hurt but the three of them were frightened and very cold.  In addition to this new rear air conditioning that resulted from rock snowball, the car heater was not working.

They began their return to Columbus about 10PM.  Soon after that, Asbury began to fall asleep at the wheel at which time Nick had to sing, yell and poke him to keep him alert until they arrived back in Columbus.

 

Chapter V – An angry Dad

It took 3 to 4 hours to get back to Columbus and they drove directly to the Bakery where Nick was to report for work, but 2 hours late.  It was now 2am.  Nick missed the date, the basketball and was late for work. Upon his arrival at the bakery, Nick’s father was awaiting his arrival and was both angry and concerned. He was very mad at Asbury (who he knew from past experience was the local troublemaker) and told him he did not want to see him anymore and not to come around Nick or his house ever again.  Nick’s dad was so mad that he even sent Nick home in a cab. Asbury took Bob home at this time and surprisingly Asbury (even after the warning from Nick’s dad) showed up at Nick’s house and spent the night in the basement (Nick’s dad would not see him if he was tucked away in the basement).

 

Chapter VI – A New Day – A New Accident & New Miracle (#2)

Saturday morning arrived and the snow was coming down so hard that the streetcar system was shutdown.  This impacted Nick’s sister (Shorty) and his Aunt Ethel to report to work in downtown Columbus. Asbury, however, volunteered to drive the girls to work and the three of them (in the middle of the snowstorm) were off. As “luck” or “fate” would have it, a large truck driving next to them lost control and sideswiped the Ford (the same car driven the night before to Logan) striking its left front panel - exactly where it had been struck the night before.  At first, the driver of the truck tried to “flee the scene of the accident” (as Nick had attempted himself the night before). However, Like Nick, the truck driver failed to evade.  The truck was unable to gain any traction and Asbury jumped out of the Ford and ran down the truck on foot and stopped the truck driver through coercion and threats.  The truck driver admitted he was at fault and the truck driver’s insurance company paid for the all of the damage to that left front side (even the damage that occurred the night before) that occurred to the Ford.   Nick was off the hook for the damage for the first car (Miracle #2). But, he still had to pay the forthcoming bill for the damaged car in Logan.

 

Chapter VII – The Mysterious Check - Miracle #3 

A week later - The owner of the car in Logan sent Nick a bill for about $150.  This was a lot of money in those days, and Nick had no way to repay it and was afraid to tell his father.  He didn’t know what to do except worry.

Just a few days later, however, Nick decided to go outside to retrieve the family mail, which he never had done.  He just happened to be home and felt the “urge” to get the mail.  To his surprise, he looked through the mail and noticed a letter addressed personally to him “Nick W. Cannell” (by the way, he was the only Nick Cannell – there was no mistake that he was the intended recipient).  When he opened the letter, a check from the IRS addressed to Nick fell out.  The amount of this tax return check was for the same amount of the bill he had to pay the person in Logan.   Nick just endorsed the check and sent it directly to the person in Logan.  At first, this may sound like it was just good timing.  However, what was so curious about this IRS check is that Nick never paid taxes and there should never have been ant tax return.  And, there was never a repeat of such a mailing ever the following years.  In fact, there was no official record of his employment at the bakery where he worked as he was paid “under the table” a few buck a night. 

Miracle #3 – The IRS sent him a check for the same amount owed the person for the damaged car in Logan – a check that should never have been written.  Who would have thought that God worked at the IRS?  As a result, Nick was off the hook for the damage of the second car as well. 

Chapter VIII - Nick’s Reflection – A Miraculous God 

Too many, these “miracles” may seem like a streak of just good luck and coincidences that bailed Nick out of a jam.  However, for Nick, he believes that they were indeed miracles and that these miracles (in light of that cold night in Logan) changed his way of thinking about God from that point on.   I know my dad feels this way because I must have heard this story from him a hundred times growing up  - so I recognize it was a point of reference for his future thinking, behavior, and actions.  From that night forward, Nick believes that God has kept His protective eye upon him and his family and that a “guardian angel” is always near by.

Nick is firmly convinced that God cared enough about his welfare that he worked out a few small miracles on earth that wiped out his mistake (sin) so that it was never recorded and the price for his mistake was paid by someone else.  (Sounds like a salvation story doesn’t it?).  Nick never interpreted these miracles as signs that he could continually do “stupid things” and God would continually bail him out.  Nick correctly understood that he was given a ray of grace to enlightened him to His Maker’s love for him – and Nick’s response was correct – to be thankful and to learn from his mistakes so that futures ones could be avoided.

Though these miracles Nick experienced are small from God’s perspective (I mean no fire rained down from heaven or anything like that), they were Large from Nick’s perspective and Large in terms of its impact on his future thinking.  So large did these miracles appear to Nick, that he still reflects and talks about this story as a life changer.  So large, in fact, that I decided to write this story out for other family members, and possibly for his future generations, to enjoy and to recognize that their current thinking (and existence) may have had something to do with that cold night from hell that brought God’s the warm grace down from heaven to teach us all that He still works miracles in our lives.