His Guardian Angels Protected Him During a Car Accident

The little boy—who slept through the crash—was lucky to be alive.

Posted in , Jun 24, 2022

Illustration by Amalia Restrepo

Automobiles were still a novelty way back in the 1930s, at least in Alfred Gallucci’s neighborhood in Connecticut. When one of the neighbors drove up in a new Ford, everyone on the block came out for a look. One bright Sunday afternoon, the neighbors offered to take Alfie’s family for a ride. Three-year-old Alfie, his grandmother Nonny and his aunt Tanta were all game. Alfie’s mother refused, and didn’t want her son to go, either.

“You’re just a worrywart,” Nonny said. “It will be fun!”

Eventually, Nonny won out and little Alfie would go with them for a drive in the shiny new Ford. This being a special treat, they all had on their Sunday best when they climbed into the car. The neighbors in the front seat, Nonny and Tanta in the back. Little Alfie was settled in the rumble seat, which folded up out of the exterior body of the car. He gave his mother a big wave as they drove off.

Alfie was also dressed for the occasion. He wore his best navy-blue sailor coat. It had shiny brass buttons, three down the front and two more adorning the sturdy half-belt across his back. Nonny hoped he wouldn’t be too warm, but she knew how protective his mother was.

The group drove through the Connecticut countryside, from their home in Bridgeport up toward Waterbury, following and then crossing over the Naugatuck River. The Ford handled beautifully. Alfie watched the scenery roll by from his rumble seat. Inside the car, the grown-ups talked and laughed.

It was late afternoon by the time they headed for home. The sun sent fiery sparkles across the Naugatuck as they approached a bridge. Nonny and Tanta watched as the boy drifted off for a nap, lulled by the smooth ride. Even when a soft sun shower started to fall, it didn’t disturb him.

Still talking amongst themselves, the passengers were taken by surprise when the car suddenly skidded on the rain-slick road. The driver lost control. The Ford swerved around and hit the bridge barrier from behind.

Nonny and Tanta were stunned but uninjured. Their neighbors in the front seat needed medical attention. State police arrived quickly, alerted by passersby on the road. A crowd formed. Still getting her bearings, Nonny looked around. “Where did you put Alfie?” she said to Tanta.

Tanta looked confused. “I thought you had him!”

Just at that moment, an approaching driver jumped out of his car, waving his arms and pointing at the back of the car. It had slipped over the edge of the bridge. The rumble seat was empty. But dangling over the Naugatuck, hanging from the bumper by the half-belt of his new, well-made sailor coat, was little Alfie.

He was still fast asleep.

Working together, everyone got the boy to safety. The one memory Alfie would carry from that day forward was standing on the road, looking up at a circle of anxious adults who had just woken him from his nap.

A couple of Good Samaritans from Bridgeport offered Nonny, Tanta and Alfie a ride home. Once again, they piled into a car. This time, Alfie sat on his grandmother’s lap, while she worried about how she would break all this to his mother. One thing she’d tell her for sure was that guardian angels were riding with Alfie in that rumble seat.

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