Tom Cordle

Tom Cordle
Beeffee, Tennessee, CSA
June 16
There is your truth ... there is my truth ... and there is everything between. That leads to the better question: Is there an Everlasting Truth? I submit there is only the Everlasting Quest for the truth. __________________________________ I believe that in essence We are God. That is to say, humankind, for all it's faults, has power over Good and Evil. As the Eden Tale intimates, humans alone, in all Creation, have "eaten" from the the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; and thus humans alone, in all Creation, have the ability and responsibility to choose between the two. Thus, each of us is in essence a god, and the Sum of us, through all generations past, present and future is God. By those choices, we are the creators of what was, what is and what will be. And by those choices, we, collectively, choose whether to exist here and now in the Kingdom of Heaven or in a Living Hell. _________________________________ "I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence." Frederick Douglass _________________________________ "You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don't have any boots, and you can't put yourself in another's shoes -- you can't even try on their socks." Soulofhawk _________________________________ "I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue." Albert Einstein _________________________________ Only in silence can your hear the voice of God." Soulofhawk ____________________________________ "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King, Jr" ____________________________________ "Racists can hide in the closet, but the smell usually gives them away." Soulofhawk _________________________________ "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." Mark Twain ____________________________ "When we are young, Death comes as an unwelcome stranger; but as we get nearer the end of our own too-often rocky road, he comes more and more to resemble a long, lost acquaintance." Soulofhawk ____________________________________ “When monetary gain is involved, mans capacity for self-delusion is infinite.” Lord Byron _________________________________ "Where greed is good, need is great." Soulofhawk _________________________________ “And let it be noted that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more doubtful in its success, than to set up as a leader in the introduction of change. For he who innovates will have as his enemies all who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new. This lukewarm temper arises partly from the incredulity of mankind, who will never admit the merit of anything new, until they have seen it proven by the event.” Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter VI _________________________________ "if a man falls from a pedestal, who is really to blame -- the man or those who put him up there?" Soulofhawk ____________________________________ "The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners." Howard Zinn _______________________________ "The worst thing to be around a bigot is right." Soulofhawk ______________________________


MARCH 1, 2009 7:18PM

Died For Love

Rate: 13 Flag

It was literally a dark and stormy night in September, 1989. Leslie Ann Pluhar was on her way from her home in Royal Oak, Michigan, to meet her boyfriend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She knew she was driving faster than she should be, knew because the wind was whipping her boxy little Yugo all over the road. She knew she should slow down, but she was in a hurry. Love always seems to be in too big a hurry.


For years, the passage between Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsula could only be made by ferries that crossed the five-mile-wide Straits of Mackinac that tie together two huge inland seas, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The ferry ride could be a daunting prospect because the straits were notorious for storms that seemed to come up out of nowhere.

But after decades of wrangling, a magnificent new suspension bridge connecting the two peninsulas was finally completed in 1957. It was an engineering marvel and one of the longest suspensions bridges in the world, and it quickly became a tourist attraction as well as a much-needed assist to transportation.


By the time Leslie Ann arrived at the bridge, the storm was absolutely raging, and authorities issued warnings to all drivers to avoid attempting to make the crossing.  But she chose to ignore the warning.

No one knows for certain, but since traffic was all but non-existent on the bridge, the suspicion is that in her hurry, Leslie Ann was exceeding the 45 mile-per-hour speed limit recommended under normal driving conditions.

But the storm rendered driving conditions far from normal. As Leslie Ann sped across the bridge, a  huge gust of wind caught her light, little Yugo, and tossed it effortlessly into the air and over the three-foot-high guardrail. Down, down, down it plunged – 170 feet into the icy water below.

It was eight days before the weather improved enough to attempt a recovery. A dozen State Police divers finally located the vehicle, but due to the extensive damage to it, they were unable to remove Leslie Ann’s body from the vehicle while it was under water. The best they could do was attach the cables to the accordioned car, and it was hoisted unto the deck of the waiting tug with the remains of Leslie Ann Pluher.


In the song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,  Gordon Lightfoot immortalized one of the many tragedies caused by the sudden, ferocious storms that make the Great Lakes some of the most dangerous waters in the world. They are legendary for the many shipwreck victims they’ve claimed. But this was the first time a Great Lakes storm claimed a victim in a carwreck.

To be kind, one might say Leslie Ann Pluher died for love.

©2009 Tom Cordle

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It is seldom wise to throw caution to the winds.
That would be one eerie way to go Tom. Plunging 17 stories into the dark, icy water. I would pray the impact would kill me. Rated
As a former Michigan boy I'm familiar with the history of the area and the nightmarish storms. I've been to the Island and the Bridge a few times in the distant past and would not want to try that on a stormy night for any reason. Best to sleep in the car. Love can wait a day. Especially in a Yugo. Yugo over the rail is more like it.
Tom, I gotta know. Fact or fiction?
KoB -- If the poor girl didn't die of shock on the way die, the impact would surely have killed her. Don't know for a fact, but I'm betting she wasn't wearing a seat belt.
Michael -- Sad to say, it's fact. There was another such fatality years later involving an SUV that went off the bridge, but that incident is a suspected suicide.
I am familiar with that bridge, though I've never been to Michigan. I saw it on Modern Marvels. Quite a piece of engineering.

I don't want to seem unkind but anyone who would attempt a crossing under those conditions in a Yugo should be removed from the gene pool. Really, buying the Yugo is enough. No, I didn't just say that. Did not.
Dang, now someone's going to get all unhappy, tell me not to joke about Yugo's, they were Yugoed once and it was awful and nothing to joke about. Bad Cap'n. Bad.
Eerie story, wonderfully crafted, though sadly in need of being told. Rated.
Great story, Tom. For whatever reason, while reading it, I flashed on those old "dead teen-ager" songs that were all the rage in the late 50's - early 60's. Well done!
We would all be lying if we claimed that we didn't have at least a little of the "it can't happen to ME" gene in us. The younger you are, the more it rages (though, of course, some will have it much more than others for their whole lives). I was 15 the first time I had seen snow that wasn't on TV. Even then it was very light and mostly gone by morning. When I was 20, there was an "ice storm" in my college town, but I didn't think much of it. I wanted to go to the next town to get Christmas gifts (I don't really like shopping, but I had a bee in my bonnet to get it over with). You know how those little rustic bridges have those signs that say, "Bridge may ice in cold weather?" And you just ignore them if you live in the Deep South? Well, outside Tupelo, MS, (where Elvis was born), I had just driven onto the bridge when suddenly my car slid from one side all the way to the other and back. I was really lucky no one was in the other lane and that I could stay on the road. I learnt my little lesson.
Cap'n and Larry -- As much of a hardass as I am, your chlorine in the gene pool comments strike me as a bit harsh. Having hitchhiked for love in 18 below weather -- only to find her with another man -- I confess to having done some very foolish things for love.
Cartouche -- Eerie really is an apt description. Anyone who's ever traveled that bridge would find it hard to imagine such a thing happening, and even harder to imagine what that long fall to the water must have been like for this poor girl. Surely, to her it had to seem like a nightmare, that it couldn't possibly be happening.
Sheldon -- Strange, but while I was writing it, I was flashing on a song by Michael Smith called Demon Lover.
Haunting - this has all the elements of a ghost story.
Delia -- You can't imagine the giggles I get -- as a former Yankee -- watching locals here in the mountains try to drive in snow, much less on ice!!
Sandra -- As I said, this sad but true tale put me in mind of the song Demon Lover by Michael Smith, one of the most gifted and poetic songwriters I know.
Larry -- I guess I should have drank the chlorine, but I ended up marrying her instead.
Larry -- I guess I should have drunk the chlorine, but I'm such a hopeless romantic, instead I married the girl.
Jeez Tom - a rough story and some rough comments. C'mon guys, where's the love? And you caught them together in -18* weather, and later married her? Nice.
Grif -- I didn't catch them in flagrante, as they say. I was hitching to visit her because she had injured herself snow-skiing, and the other guy was there visiting whe I arrived. Love may be blind, but I wasn't that blind, and it was a very awkward moment. But love is not love than cannot forgive -- and young love tends to be much more forgiving.
Grif -- I didn't catch them in flagrante, as they say. I was hitching to visit her because she had injured herself snow-skiing, and the other guy was there visiting whe I arrived. Love may be blind, but I wasn't that blind, and it was a very awkward moment. But love is not love that cannot forgive -- and young love tends to be much more forgiving.
Larry -- I didn't say I stayed married to her!!
A yugo? I can see a wind gust messing with one of those things. I am more focused on the 18 degree relationship dissing. That had to sting, my good man.
My wife has a phobia of bridges under the best of circumstances. No way I'm going to let her read this tragic story!
Geoff -- I am not the first to observe the love like youth is wasted on the young.
Jane -- Thanks, but this telling is almost pure reportage, I'm afraid any spookiness is provided by Great Lakes storms and that queasiness that toys with us all whenever we cross a bridge that long and that high -- especially over waters that cold and troubled.
Proco -- Given the current state of our infrastructure, your wife's concern may not be all that much a phobia. Oh, and I wouldn't pass on to her an observation I frequently make to people about infrastructure and our flawed bidding system: Every time you pass over a bridge, remember that every part of it was built by the low bidder.
Good story. It reminded me of how often I hear of teenagers getting killed in car wrecks around here. They are usually driving too fast around a curve and lose control of the vehicle, sending it into a tree. The teenagers are coming back from a date or going to meet someone. Sad but so true.
Joan -- Same thing in these parts, especially since so many of the back roads don't have guardrails. We lost four in one of those flyovers about four years ago. A couple of years ago, two 20-yr-olds in a pick-up rolled flew over the guardrail, and the truck ended up upside down in the Tellico River. I play music with the father of one of the boys who died in that wreck, and he will never get over the loss.
A story that is scary, sad and extremely well told. Tom, you just never matter what you write about.
Mary - Thanks for visiting and for the kind words
Tom Cordle:

You have no idea what you are talking about - per a family member. Did not do your studying did you???? The Bridge Authority allowed my sister to cross and her and the Semi-drivers were driving very slow that night - it was hurricane Hugo's winds that hit the bridge that night. Our state wanted her to disappear and the coast guard kept volunteering to get her - please do not print anything further unless you have the facts. The velocity signs have been placed on the bridge to make people aware of the wind thanks to her and no we did not make millions like the person who spilled hot coffee at McDonalds on them and knew it was hot.

We did not want anything just her. You have said some pretty harsh things that I happened to stumble upon and shame on you because you are 100% wrong with no facts. The family never spoke out but your incorrect information made me speak. You should speak truth not speculation.

Brooks Patterson also taped the night that he crossed - same time - we have the tape and his 3/4 ton van was rocking and no one was warned not to cross the bridge that night. Shame on you for not having the facts.

You have no idea what you are talking about.

I bet you don't know the pain the State of Michigan put the family through and how the Coast Guard kept volunteering to get her car out and the State would not let them.

May I suggest that you do more research and get your facts straight so that you do not hurt anymore family members.
I knew her when I was a younger child. She was really sweet. I remember the toll booths handing out brochures with pictures of the car falling out. It was extremely off putting as a child, so I still have a fear of that bridge. But she was a very nice lady and she is still missed to this day.
MultiIris and anyone else who may know the deceased:

Thank for your kind words about the deceased. For the record, I communicated privately with angel89, and I assured that person my intent was not to insult the deceased but to illustrate the intensity of her love and to provide a word of caution to others who might be tempted to engage in risky behavior for the sake of love.

I also offered to remove this post if the family found it offensive. I have not heard back from angel89 or anyone else in that regard.