The Night They Drove Old Terry Down

by William Hoffman
Delphic Whispers
Minnesota Daily
Feb. 18, 1977

It was just another New Year's Eve until he rounded that curve....

The impact of the collision left him sprawled across the hood of his 1970 Volkswagen, bleeding from numerous facial cuts and writhing in pain from broken bones.

Terry Brown, 25, former University editor of the Daily and now a reporter on the Minneapolis Star, says he doesn't remember a thing about the accident. Three teenage girls in a late model Camaro plowed into him as he was driving along Cedar Av. south of Metropolitan Stadium. They had been drinking.

For Brown it was the worst personal calamity since he beached his father's 23-foot sailboat off an island in Lake Superior.

"I was drinking that time," Brown said in bed in Rochester, where he is under the care of a team of surgeons from the Mayo Clinic.

According to Brown, the accident "threatened to take a heretofore magnificent human being and render him grim and sardonic."

"They tell me I'm lucky to be alive," he said.

Brown is recuperating from serious facial cuts around the chin, inside the mouth and around the nose.

However, due to the efforts of a team of true surgical artists, Brown conceded that he looked about the same.

"I guess the surgeon lacked the foresight to make any noticeable improvements," he said.

He also suffered broken bones in his left leg and right hand, a broken nose and a slight crack in his upper jaw. Pins, casts and stitches bind him together.

Although he remembers nothing about the accident, and according to one report, has forgotten some of his friends, Brown said he learned of the mishap in bits and pieces. For example, he discovered he had flown through the windshield when the nurse washed his hair and removed tiny flecks of glass.

The value of Brown's experience as a human interest story lies in the courage and fortitude with which he bears his lot. He says he is not bitter. On the contrary, actually. He says his friends are "coming out of the woodwork," and he needed a rest anyway.

He'll be 26 in late February.

Brown, a tall, vivacious fellow with a keen mind and sharp wit, was an outstanding student at Rochester Mayo High School in the late 60s. He was a star dashman on the track team and with Mark Lutz formed a powerful combo in that sport for several years. Lutz went on to become an Olympic sprinter.

Brown received a B.A. in journalism and political science from the University in 1975. His two years of experience at the Daily earned him a solid reputation as administration reporter and editor of University affairs. He joined the staff of the Minneapolis Star last June, and was covering the northern suburbs at the time of his accident.

He said he will remain in the hospital several weeks and is expected back on the job in about eight weeks. Meanwhile he spends his time writing to friends and associates. The following is an excerpt from one of them: "to make a long story short, typing is a pain in the ass, as I must lean rightward in an inconvenient contortion to do it, and what's more it has to be one-handed, because my right hand is all broken and has a cast on it, which is also the reason I can't write this out long hand--right handed, you see, and such luxuries as capital letters are just too much trouble so this, pal, is the best you're going to get."

If any young journalist is capable of rebounding from such a misfortune, Terry Brown's chances must be regarded as better than most. He's been down before. Once he was knocked silly on the gridiron. But did he quit the team? Never! He broke his wrist playing basketball, but after a month in a cast he was back sinking twenty-footers. He was rushed to the Mayo Clinic one time because he had a huge blood clot in his leg. After a spell on crutches, he was back jogging along the boulevards of Rochester.

He'll be back. Just wait and see.