Friday, February 17, 2017

Getting My Driver's License

No, this isn't about me just now getting my driver's license, but I did receive a notice in the mail yesterday that it is time to renew it.  Again?  Already?  Didn't I just do that?  (Yup, four years ago.  My, how time does fly.)

The renewal notice reminded me of a post I wrote many years ago when I first started blogging and had only one or two readers.  I thought I'd repeat the post again for those of you who are now readers (and I appreciate all of you!).

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Learning to Drive

I vividly remember I simply could not wait to get my learner's permit, which could be obtained at fifteen years of age (good gawd, that seems like such a baby now), and start learning to drive so that the day, the very day, I turned sixteen, I could take my driver's test and be able to drive a car.  Wahoo!

Back in those prehistoric times there was no such thing as a driver's ed class in my high school.  Oh, sure, you could take lessons at a bona fide driving school but that cost money and no one but the "rich kids" went that route.  Usually your mom or dad, other relative or some family friend volunteered to do the teaching.

Finally, the day came when I got my learner's permit, and my dad said he would take me out in the family car for short sessions.  The very first time I got behind the wheel, the fact that I had this massive amount of power in my hands (or it definitely seemed that way) scared the bejeezuz out of me.  

Never had a car looked or felt so big.  Our '56 black and white chevy sedan was a stick shift, my dad was a little short on patience (I'm being nice here), and I was not a very adept learner.  Right then and there, I decided, nuh-uh, nope, I didn't want to learn to drive after all.  What?!  I had been literally counting the days off until I could begin driving, and here I was chucking it all . . . just like that.

In all my life, I can never remember my dear old grandpa talking to me in less than a kind or playful manner . . . except when he heard that I had decided not to learn to drive.  He got right in my face and shaking his big ol' gnarled finger at me said something to the effect of, "If you put off learning to drive until later, you'll never do it.  Before you know it, you'll be a young mother with two little kids stuck way out in the suburbs somewhere and you won't have any independence.  You'll have to rely on others to take you places and do errands for you.  I want you to learn to drive now!"  

Well.  Alrighty then.

Back at it Dad and I went.  We spent many frustrating hours (for both of us) in a huge, empty Sears parking lot, but I simply could not learn to work the clutch without killing the blankety-blank engine every blankety-blank time.  No matter what, I just couldn't get the feel of it.

One day my dad was telling my uncle what a terrible time we were having.  Dear Uncle Jack volunteered to take me out that afternoon and what an instantaneous difference.  Just by using different language in describing how to manipulate the clutch and the gas, something clicked, and I got it!  Hallelujah!

All went smoothly after that and when my sixteenth birthday rolled around, Uncle Jack (I think my dad was working, but he was probably just as glad) took me to take the test to get my for-real license.  I passed with flying colors, probably surprising everyone.  Whew.

And I've gotta say, I've always been glad that I learned on a stick shift (difficult as it was) because that has enabled me to drive any and all cars and several other vehicles that have a stick shift. 

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So now, I'm curious.  What's your learning to drive story?  Everybody's got one.  How did you learn to drive?  How old were you?  Who taught you?  Was it a good experience?  Where did you practice?  Did you pass your test the first time?  C'mon, fess up, let's hear all the interesting details!

30 comments:

Karren said...

My Dad taught me to drive a stick shift and somehow I got it with no problems. However, he also insisted that I HAD to know how to take care of the car too. So I saved up my money from my babysitting job and bought a very old car at 15 1/2 and we practiced on weekends. But he wouldn't let me take my final test at 16 until I could also change a tire, check all the fluids and change the oil. Like you, I'm glad I learned on that old 1952 Dodge, because I was then able to drive anything that came along after that.

Ruth Dixon said...

I flunked my permit test once, flunked the driving test twice (turns out hitting a curb when you are parking is an automatic fail). My mom taught me, if I remember correctly. I didn't learn to drive a stick for a couple of years after that. I was soooo stressed.

Mama Pea said...

Karren - Good for you! You're one of the few people I've heard of who bought their own car at that young of an age. What a smart dad to insist you knew how to take care of your car (and yourself!) also.

Jan said...

I learned to drive on an automatic, but when my husband and I were first married, we had a car with the stick shift on the steering column. My husband tried to teach me how to drive it and I just couldn't figure it all out. We decided to stay married and buy automatics! I still can't drive a stick shift and I'm 60!

2 Tramps said...

I learned to drive in a Volkswagon beetle with a stick shift. My twin cousins taught me when I was 14 - they were just a year older. One of them went on to get her license but the other waited. I drove her to get it - me, without a license! We have four vehicles with a clutch, with just our diesel crew cab being an automatic. We find a five speed with a clutch really helps out in the snow and ice, not to mention way less maintenance, too, and better fuel economy. (Got my license on my 16th birthday - in the snow!)

DFW said...

I learned to drive on a 3 on a tree Valiant on our neighbors dirt 2.5 mile horse track. Taught me that I could drive anything after that!

Laurie said...

Great story, Mama Pea. My daddy taught me to drive. It was an old truck and it was stick shift. He carried me down an old dirt road to keep me off the highway. At first I jerked and sputtered that old truck, but soon got the hang of it. I think he laughed at me more than anything. It's a great memory. Thanks for helping me remember.

Michelle said...

My long-term memory isn't all that clear, but I do remember practicing out in the flat Texas Panhandle pastures in an old International three-speed pick-up. My step-dad was a great teacher; my mom not so much. ;-)

Vera said...

I was in my twenties when I learnt to drive and I was already a young mum. It took me four driving tests to pass. The first two tests were in a tangle of little lanes which confused the life out of me, the third was in rush hour traffic in a local town, and the fourth was the same. Not sure how I passed that one, except that I stayed in third gear for most of the way because of the amount of school children who were coming out of school and I didn't want to knock any of them over! I was the first woman to drive in our area, and the first to have a little Honda motor bike!

Mama Pea said...

Ruth - You failed a couple of times but you kept at it! Do you think it was easier to learn a stick shift transmission after you had all the other things related to driving to think about down pat?

Mama Pea said...

Jan - I know what you mean about holding out for automatics. When I got my new-to-me small car last year, I was kinda insistent on getting an automatic.

P.S. Glad you stayed married!

Mama Pea said...

2 Tramps - Yep, my husband has always liked stick shifts because of the very reasons you stated. We, too, had a Volkswagon Beetle with a stick shift for many years after we first got married. Was the heater in yours good? Ours was awful!!

Mama Pea said...

DFW - Learning to drive on a horse track?! I think you may be the winner of most unusual place to learn to drive!!

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - Great picture you painted of you and your daddy bouncing down an old dirt road in the truck!

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - I'm really surprised at how many of us learned on a stick shift. I always think how very vital that could be. I mean what if there were some kind of an emergency and only a vehicle with stick shift was available and one had never driven anything but an automatic?

Mama Pea said...

Vera - You have lead a very interesting life, Vera!

I was fortunate that when I took my driving test, the instructor took me to a fairly unpopulated area and I don't remember having to negotiate much of any real traffic. Good thing!

Kristina said...

I was 16, learned to drive in a blazer. Yes, a blazer. Although automatic, I drove a stick later in life too. I had to parallel park the day of the test, and I passed the first time. My parents didn't teach me to drive. Back then, our public school taught it. Even taught us to change a flat. That was back when you had to roll your window down using a crank handle. Nowadays, you just push a button.

Kim said...

Great post! I had been driving things on the farm for years even old trucks with a stick shift at haying time. I remember not even being able to reach the pedals without scooting up toward the steering wheel. The night before I turned 16 my mom wrecked our car (1975 Vega) and I either had to wait or take my test in a Cadillac. Mom was hoping I would say no way, but take it I did. I passed and even aced the parking. I had never parked that car before! Well crap I had never even driven that car before. I have went on in life to drive fire trucks and Ambulances and a Fedex truck. And I can parallel park them all!

Thanks for this trip down memory lane.

Anonymous said...

I learned to drive the tractor at age 6 hay hauling, then by age 8 I had moved up to driving an automatic truck, then on to the combine by 16 learned to drive the stick(as dad called it). Got my license at 16. Oh, the neighbor man had horses so he taught me to work with them at age 10. Thanks for the memories!
Sue

Katie C. said...

I took driver's ed in school. My mom insisted (it also gave her a break on the insurance). She took me out after to practice. I remember going to an empty parking lot with a couple of saw horses to practice parking between "cars"

Funny thing, I read that having a stick shift these days will aid in not having your car stolen! Apparently a lot of car thieves don't know how to drive them ��

Rain said...

Grampa was right! I only learned to drive in my 30's and I wasn't too big on it...I was so nervous, fearing other driver's irresponsibility and all that. But it is definitely necessary for the lifestyle I want. I remember never getting the darn parallel parking...practicing for hours until I was in tears! My poor friend was along the whole way...I could tell she was just as frustrated! But on the exam day I got it on the first try, imagine that? I'm so glad I can drive, it really gives you freedom! By the way Mama Pea, I finally dove in and started a public blog: http://rainsgarden.blogspot.ca/ :)

Erin said...

I learned and took my test in a stick shift too, a 1974 VW.... and I still drive a manual today!

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - Ha, I wish all windows still came down with a crank handle. What do you do should the electrical system that works the windows stop working?

Mama Pea said...

Kim - Good grief, girl, you've driven more vehicles than most any of the rest of us! I just spoke to a gal (who is in her late 70s) last Friday and she said she's never in her life (since taking her driver's test when she was in her teens) parallel parked. You could sure teach her a thing or two!

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Nothin' like being raised on a farm to teach kids life skills!

Did you mean your neighbor taught you to drive horses? If so, that beats driving a car all to heck!

Mama Pea said...

Katie - Ha! That's really something about vehicles with stick shifts not being as desirable for thieves!!

Mama Pea said...

Rain - I think parallel parking has got to be really hard for a lot of people. I guess I can boast a little when I say I can even parallel park our big Suburban. (Lots of other things I can't do though!)

I am so happy to see you've started your own blog. So looking forward to experiencing your first real gardening season through it!

Mama Pea said...

Erin - I really do thing a person has to keep driving a stick shift . . . to feel comfortable with it. Good for you. (It will come in handy for your future tractor!)

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Great post! Officially, I took a drivers education class in high school, then took my test. Unofficially, I started driving at 12 on an automatic while living out in the country. Mom would have me go out and start the car up, shovel out the snow, and then drive it out of the garage and around the driveway.

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - That sounds like a very sane and sensible way of getting a taste of driving!