I was a late bloomer. When I was in High School, everyone was chomping at the bit to learn to drive and to get their licenses. I’ve always been a late bloomer. I knew Dad wouldn’t let me drive his car and I didn’t have another car to drive so I was in no hurry to learn.Finally, my brother-in-law convinced me to get my temps. I went to the DMV, after reading their book, took the test, and passed. I walked from DMV to JC Penney’s to get a ride home from Art. I walked in and he asked, “Well, did you pass?”. I said yes and showed him my temps. He said “great, you can drive us home.”
I almost swallowed my tongue! I had never been behind the wheel of a car in my life. So, I sucked it up, took my place behind the wheel, and asked him where the key went. He swallowed hard and showed me. I slowly backed out of the parking space at Penney’s and turned onto Center Street. I was terrified to put it mildly.
Art was looking straight ahead and put his pipe in his mouth. He told me I was doing fine and we continued. We arrived at MacArthur Drive about ten minutes later. I pulled in the driveway and breathed a sigh of relief! Art said “you did fine” quietly.
Then, he took the pipe out of his mouth and he had bitten down on it so hard, it was completely flattened. We never discussed it again!
Next, my sister decided that no one should get their license unless they could drive a stick shift car so she insisted on taking me out driving. We sat in the car in front of our house in her 1960 Rambler and she told me where the gears were. I started out in first gear, slowly letting out the clutch. I killed it several times until finally we started down MacArthur Drive. We continued around our neighborhood and were driving down DeClark Street.
We stopped at the four-way stop. Coming across the street towards us was an eighteen-wheeler. Being polite, the driver motioned for me to go ahead. I gulped and let out the clutch. The car started to kill so I put the clutch in and out and jerked across the intersection like a galloping goose! I looked over at Sandy and she was laughing hysterically. In her hysteria, she wet her pants. Then I looked over at the driver of the truck and he was laughing so hard, his face was literally purple.
We didn’t say a word and I drove to our house and parked the car in front. I was humiliated. Sandy couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. She told me to trade places with her and started going through the gears. I looked at her in disbelief. She had told me the gear positions completely backwards. I was doomed from the start.
Despite these two episodes, I did go on to love to drive. My first five cars were manual transmissions and I didn’t have any more galloping events.