Win­ning a Dat­sun

Reminisce - - Spotlight - BY MIL­TON “BILL” HERZOG • ANN ARBOR, MI Post your mo­tor­ing mem­ory: REM­I­NISCE.COM/ SUB­MIT-A-STORY

I was lucky I didn’t lose con­trol

of the car.

Back in 1976, liv­ing in Val­ley Stream on New York’s Long Is­land, we were in the habit of lis­ten­ing to John A. Gam­bling’s morn­ing show on WOR as we got ready for work. One day he an­nounced a raf­fle for a Dat­sun au­to­mo­bile. With only a faint hope of win­ning, I filled out post­cards—one for me and one on be­half of my wife, Carol—and mailed them.

My job was in Kear­ney,

New Jer­sey, which was about

50 miles away. The com­mute in­cluded a long ride on the belt­way, over the Ver­razano Bridge to Staten Is­land, across Staten Is­land to the Goethals Bridge, and then north on the New Jer­sey Turn­pike.

The con­test lasted an en­tire month and must have at­tracted hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of en­tries; chances of win­ning would have been slim. When the day came for the win­ner to be picked, I wasn’t ex­pect­ing to hear ei­ther of our names an­nounced.

But shortly af­ter 5 p.m. that day, while driv­ing south on the turn­pike, I was stunned to catch this ur­gent plea over my car ra­dio: “Time is run­ning out for Carol F. Herzog. There are only four min­utes left for you to claim your new Dat­sun. Oth­er­wise, we’ll pick an­other win­ner at 5 to­mor­row evening.” Of course, this was long be­fore mo­bile phones. The only tele­phones on the toll road were at rest stops, and I was nowhere near one.

I couldn’t call Carol or any­one else. I was so ex­cited— and so frus­trated—that I was lucky I didn’t lose con­trol of the car.

I suf­fered through a long few min­utes be­fore the an­nouncer came back to say, “We’ve heard from Carol Herzog,” and he in­ter­viewed her on the air.

Carol ex­plained that she’d for­got­ten to lis­ten to the pro­gram be­cause she was bak­ing a cake. For­tu­nately, some­one else was able to reach her in time to con­tact the sta­tion.

She’d won a small two-seat coupe, but at the deal­er­ship we de­cided to pay an ex­tra

$300 for a sta­tion wagon to fit our fam­ily. It was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence—and to think we al­most missed it be­cause Carol liked to bake.

THE HERZOGS had a lot to laugh about in the ’70s af­ter they won a car.

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