One day I went to the supermarket with my wife. It was 1956, and cars with automatic transmission were new on the market, and not very common. When we were ready to leave, we found that the battery in our car had gone dead.
Seeing an old man in the car parked next to us, I asked him if he had battery jumper cables, and if he could give me a jump start. The old man explained that the car he was in was not his, but was his son's new Buick. He did not have jumper cables either, so he suggested that he give my car a push to get it started. I told him that my car had an automatic transmission, so he would have to get the car moving at about 30 miles
per hour before my engine would turn over.
The old man backed out of the parking lot, and lined up behind my car. Then he backed up. He backed up more. He KEPT backing up. I was wondering what the heck he was doing? Finally, he stopped, and started accelerating forward.
Then, I figured it out. He thought that HE had to be going 30 miles
per hour! Too late. BANG. He hit my rear bumper and smashed in the grill of his son's brand new car.
How quickly can a joke get round the whole U.S.A.?
A Boston columnist, with some space to fill, made up a story about a motorist whose car stalled on the Merritt Parkway. He stopped a lady driver and asked her to give him a push, telling her, "You'll have to get up to about thirty-five miles an hour to really get me rolling." He thereupon climbed into his jalopy, took the wheel, and waited for the push. It was a bit tardy in coming, so he stole a look behind him. There was the lady — bearing down on him at thirty-five miles an hour! "The damage to the man's car," concluded the imaginative columnist, "was approximately three hundred dollars."
Well, there wasn't too much real news that day, and the Associated Press sent the story out over its wires. Result: about five hundred newspapers printed it as gospel, and about fourteen radio and TV comics made it famous inside of a single day from Connecticut to Oregon!