MOUNT VERNON -- The afternoon of Friday, April 15, 1955, was a typically busy one in downtown Mount Vernon, as people moved from store to store, some stopping to socialize along the way.
Mrs. Laura Barnhart of Centerburg came down South Main Street, looking for a parking place so that she and her grandson could go to the Woolworth Store.
Just beyond Vine Street, Barnhart spotted a perfect parking place directly in front of the Woolworth store at 121 South Main. Pulling into the spot, she let her grandson get out of the car. Taking a look around, she decided that she was a little too far from the curb, and decided to readjust the car.
At that point, something went wrong, according to newspaper reports of the time. The car gunned forward, deflected off the parked car in front of it (owned by Carl Miller of Fredericktown) and leaped the curb. The car rapidly crossed the sidewalk and crashed into the front of the Woolworth's store, shattering a large pane glass window.
Miraculously, the grandson was out of the way and no other people happened to be on that part of the sidewalk at 4:40 p.m. No one inside the store was injured, either.
The accident briefly tangled downtown traffic, but Eddie Johnson's tow truck was quickly summoned by police to clear the car. Total damages were estimated at $500, and Mrs. Barnhart was cited for unsafe operation of a motor vehicle. According to public records, Mrs. Barnhart passed away in 1993.