Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Learning to Drive

This post was inspired by Floyd’s story “Old Habits Die Hard”

image courtesy photobucket.com

On one of our trips to visit our grandparents, my dad allowed me to sit on his lap and steer while he drove our car.  I wasn’t very old, and this was a real treat for me. 

Naturally Dad did all the shifting.  Dad seemed to trust me and all he said was, ‘Just keep your eyes on the road and drive straight.”

When I was in High School, Driver’s Education was not offered as it is now.  Our Government class had a guest visit from a police officer, who explained many reasons teens get into auto accidents.  The officer went over many of the rules of driving and a book of California DMV Laws was given to each student in our class.  
Taking the book home, I showed it to my dad, and, he promised, “One of these days,” he would teach me to drive.  I could not pin him down to an exact day, but kept on asking.

All the badgering at my dad, soon extracted a promise that on Sunday, he would take me to the Safeway Warehouse because on the week end the parking lot would be empty.  The lot was large and I could be trained to shift the gears and drive without the worry of other cars.

If you learned to drive a car with a gear shift, you probably had the same experience that I did.  Dad’s car jerked and wrenched, until finally I could smoothly go from one gear to the next.

Dad let me drive all over that parking lot, and then we pretended to back into a parking space.  He said, “This will be the hard part when you take the driving test.”

Dad insisted that he was not going to take me to get my drivers license because he was not about to give me the keys to our only car.

A few months later I turned 18, and that December Robert and I were married. 
Robert’s uncle had an old car that he was willing to sell to us, and Robert promised to take me to apply for my license.  Taking the written test was easy, and the DMV, gave me a permit to drive.

Robert decided I needed a few more lessons before he finally agreed to take me for the driving test. 

Horrors of all horrors, to my dismay I failed the first test. 

I think I forgot to put my left arm out for a turn, and the instructor marked it down.  In those days most cars didn’t have signal lights, so you put your arm out for a left turn and crooked your arm up for a right turn,  your arm went down, if traffic was slowing or stopping.. 

So there was a lot more driving practice, including the back up parking until I was pretty good at it.  Finally I passed the test with flying colors and was awarded my drivers license.

Through the years I have only had a few non serious accidents.  My first was when I backed out of my folk’s driveway, and turned too sharp catching the fender on the telephone pole that was next to the driveway. 
Robert was not happy, but he forgave me.

Driving is a privilege, so we must drive carefully and respectfully, just as we walk in life.



  1. Great story, Hazel! Those are great memories of being a kid and having our parents engage us so closely. Cherished memories indeed. We take for granted how deadly getting behind a wheel can be...

  2. Loved this story, Hazel! I have good memories of learning how to drive in the parking lot of a local horse racetrack! Later I got my first car, a stick shift, and that wasn't so much fun learning!

    But eventually, I learned. And only a few minor *fender benders* to my name!

    Just like life.


  3. I remember gear shifts, although I never learned to drive that way. I also remember hand signals and have used them.

    I taught my sons to drive in an empty restaurant parking lot on Saturday mornings before I was ready to "promote" them to the streets.


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