Sidney Meislik, 1962, 8mm, color, silent, 3:05
Locations: Bedford County, PA and Sharon, PA
About the Film
Sometime in the early morning hours of July 18, 1962, Sidney Meislik (“Meizlek” as reported in The Indiana Gazette in Indiana, Pa.) fell asleep while driving his car on the turnpike. He was returning from NYC after taking his daughter to New Rochelle to attend charm school as his wife had taken ill. Originally from New York City, many of his siblings still lived there as well as other family. Cars of this era didn’t necessarily come with seat belts installed. Prior to the trip, he actually paid to have them installed in his car. Two newspaper photographs of the accident are horrific. Their caption read,
Seat belts were credited with saving the life of Sidney Meizlek of Farrell, driver of the car that figured in the crash above the Ashcom overpass on the Turnpike Monday at 6:15 AM. State Police said Meizlek apparently fell asleep, ran off the road, struck a guard rail and bridge abutment, jumped onto the bridge railing and slid 21 feet. The car valued at $2800 was totally demolished. Meizlek was in serious condition at Memorial Hospital with fractures of the legs, and jawbone and extensive other injuries. His seat belt was credited with preventing serious head injuries and a crushed chest; the belt pulled him back along the seat when the car’s engine crashed through the firewall and into the center of the passenger area, and thus pulled him away from heavy impact with the windshield, dash or steering wheel.
The fact that he survived this accident is nothing short of miraculous. He was not expected to survive. Two of his siblings flew to see him immediately and his other sister and his daughter flew in later that day. Sidney’s daughter’s boyfriend (soon to be her husband) drove one of his sons and his wife to the hospital to see him. The film shows some of his injuries, but ultimately his feet and major leg bones were broken, he had both arms in casts and suffered broken ribs, and a fractured jaw and skull.
The film featured here is from August 1962 and contains clips showing his hospital recovery at Memorial Hospital of Bedford County and shortly after his recovery visiting his car in Sharon, Pa. The last clip was shot in Farrell, Pa. outside the family furniture store, Zolton’s Furniture, which was owned by my grandmother’s brother, Aaron, and his brother Joe and his brother in laws Jack Haenick and my grandfather, Sidney. The gentleman with the cigarette my cousin, Art Greenfield.
Sidney Meislik, 1960, 8mm, color, silent, 3:07
Shown at Home Movie Day, Pittsburgh
Film transfers by The MediaPreserve
Films courtesy of Miriam Meislik
Thanks to: Miriam Meislik, Diana Little
About the Film
This film depicts my grandfather’s trip to Florida and is dated November 13, 1960. His brother lived in Florida part of the year. It was possibly shot by his brother Jules Leopold.