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Deadman’s Curve

KINGSLEY AND JOANNE FIFE — Photo by Carmela Cunningham

My buddy, Dr. Kingsley Fife, is 91 years old, hard-of-hearing, and happy in his skin.

I spent the night at Kingsley’s house in Pacific Palisades – a beautiful home high in the hills with a clear day’s view of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina beyond – while Carmela spent the night with Kingsley’s wife, Joanne, who was at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for a medical procedure.

Kingsley is a driving force with which to be reckoned. That night we drove on rain-slicked streets from UCLA to his house, he in his sleek Acura and me in my big, much wider, F-150 pickup.  He knew the shortcuts and was quick to turn here and cut-in-and-out there.

The final zig-zag stretch along Sunset was Kingsley at his best – slowing down for no one and cutting through the night like Bruce Wayne in his Batmobile. When we arrived at his home, I was just happy to be there and glad to have survived the trip.

“Hey Kingsley,” I said. “Didn’t we just drive around Deadman’s Curve back there a bit.

“Oh yeah,” he said, cool as a cucumber. “Deadman’s Curve.”

Deadman’s Curve has changed quite a bit since Jan and Dean sang about it in their famous 1964 song about a road race gone wrong. Many speeding drivers lost their lives to Deadman’s Curve back in the day, but it’s been much upgraded and improved since then.

But that doesn’t stop people from driving too fast and too recklessly along the stretch of highway – especially on rainy nights.

Some of them crash and die and some of them – like me – just tighten their seat belts, follow their buddy, and live to tell about it.

– George Lee Cunningham

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