Winning a Datsun
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.