Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Week 3 of 2014 - Getting My Drivers License

WOW...I'm closing in on almost 50 years since this rite of passage.  Well, not quite, but probably 46 years from right now I was signing up and getting excited about driving a car!  I never aspired to HAVING my own car...never cared as long as I could drive.  At that time, driver's education lasted only a few months of classroom work and a few....three times behind the wheel with a teacher...passing your drivers test...and you were golden!

I remember hearing boys talking about it as if it was no big deal...for they had been driving tractors forever.  I was a little apprehensive about the actual driving part of it.  My first time behind the wheel was with Dad on 31 Mile Road between Sisson Street and Campground Road.  We had a stick shift Ford station wagon and Dad was very accomodating to beginning my lessons.  I just didn't want to go behind the wheel with other kids in the class and NEVER EVER done it before. Well, let me tell you...a stick shift and a 15 year old girl...poor Dad had no idea what he was in for.  He patiently explained that you press down on the accelerator with your right foot as you let up on the clutch with the left foot...kinda in a synchronized way (oh yeah..syncronized, right!) and when you feel the "catch" just give it the gas and "it's that easy!"  So I put my feet on the pedals, repeated his instructions word for word and confidently turned the key.  So far so good, until I let up on the clutch just enough to lurch us forward and stall it.

Dad:  "Okay..that's ok. Start over.  Feet on the pedals..gas goes down, clutch comes up, catches and give it the gas."
Pam:  "Okay, got it."

This time was better.  No lurching..just stalled it.  Again...and again and again.

Dad:   "Okay..just do it again."
Pam:   "Okay."

Two little lurches and one big lurch...stall.  Dad remained jovial and was getting a kick out of me trying so hard.  We were both laughing and enjoying the efforts.  Even at that young age, I was good at laughing at myself, which I learned from Dad!  At one point, he leaned forward gripping the dash and hollered, "Stop, Stop! Stop the car!"  He put his head down on the dash and just lost it with an enthusiastic belly laugh.

We were moving west on 31 Mile Road, but only by a lurch or two at a time.  Ever determined with a patient father sitting shotgun, all of a sudden I was able to move the car from a stop to a forward roll without any stalling...or lurches.  By the time I got to Mound Road (less than 2 miles from where we started), I was able to successfully start and stop.  I know that there are also some shifts in there, but that wasn't a problem.  When we arrived at Mound Road the lesson was over.  We switched places and Dad headed south toward home.  The only stick shift lesson I would ever have was over.

My drivers ed experience was interesting too.  The classroom part was no problem...the actual driving time was...a story in itself with an automatic shift vehicle, thank goodness.  All these know it all boys...living on farms, etc.  I was paired with two boys, and my first driving experience was from Lapeer to Imlay City along M21.  We stopped at Tietz's Drive In for lunch and then I drove south on M53 to Romeo.  That first time on pavement with cars coming at me was intimidating.  I couldn't get far enough to the right.  I cringed every time a car came in the opposite direction.  By the time we reached Romeo, I was calm and decided it was pretty cool afterall.  At some point, I was told to pull over and a classmate, Lanny Kaeding, took his turn.  And what a turn it would be.  We headed to Stoney Creek Park and Lanny was scared to death.  At one point we went off the road on the right, down a sloping ditch and around a park sign and back up on the pavement.  The teacher had him pull over and that was the end of his driving time for that day.  The teacher drove and dropped me off at home and Mom was waiting to hear "all about it."  I just couldn't believe a "boy" couldn't drive better than that!

Soon after completing the classroom tests and driving three times, once you turned 16 you could take your driver's test with the Romeo Police.  The officer climbed in your car and you took him around the block.  I was scared I'd have to parallel park, but it was just a once around the block and done.  I passed!

Dad told me many times that "driving will be the most dangerous thing you will ever do. Remember that!"  How true that is still today!  Lest we not ever forget that....


  1. I wish we could ask Dad about his experience teaching us to drive a stick! It had to have been a hoot teaching four girls before the boys came along...and they had a manual transmission for so many years!!! I remember reminding myself to use the bathroom before we left because the process would surely make me laugh so hard that I did not want to have THAT kind of an "accident" with Dad! Or the other kind either!!!!
    Too funny

  2. OH GEES...didn't think of that then...but sure would now! Still makes me laugh to think about how hard he laughed for about a mile!