Sunday, December 21, 2008

Learning to Drive

I watched Dad as he drove our Model A Ford until I became confident that I could drive it too. I talked him into letting me back it out of the barn. I got it started and in reverse gear then let out the clutch. I came roaring backwards without a clue as to how to stop it. I cut a big semi-circle missing the maple tree, running over my sled, taking a corner off the barn and getting stuck in Mother's garden. When Dad got to me I was in tears and swearing that I would never drive again.
Much later Dick and I learned to drive by driving around a big hay field. We would be helping the hired man load hay on the wagon all day then Dad would come out after he closed the office and take over the pitch forking (he was easily the equal of two skinny 12 or 13 year old boys).The car was an early Ford V8 (with manual transmission of course) and the wide open spaces of the hay field were very forgiving of learners' misjudgements. In those days you could get a driver's license merely by turning 14.
This part was not in Grandpa's Stories but could be characterized as learning to drive also.. I used to drive the three of us boys to school and back in the Model A. It was quite hard to steer and tended to get you in trouble if you weren't paying strict attention. Our route was east on Paw Paw Avenue, down the hill across the bridge (it's no longer there), around the paper mill to a stop sign at Main Street. We would be going to school about the same time the paper mill workers would be coming to work coming off Main Street onto Paw Paw Avenue. This one day I started up to turn onto Main Street just as Bart Rose Sr. was coming the other way and he kind of cut across my path and I hit him righr in his left ruuningboard. Neither car was damaged too bad and I was able to convince my Dad that it was really Bart's fault but I was stretching the truth a bit.  Another time we were coming home from school via First Street past the Congregational Church and City Hall and making the right turn to where I had to stop before entering Main Street. There was angle parking on Main Street in those days. I started up to make my left turn onto Main Street but I swung too wide and smacked the back end of Woody Austin's car and drove it up to where it hit the front door of his store. This time I wasn't able to convince Dad that it wasn't my fault. I don't know how he settled things with Woody.

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