Oh my . . . what a story! My first driving experience/lesson was from my mom. It was summer and we were working in the hay field. Mom said I should drive the pickup back to the house (we weren’t going on any public roads – I didn’t have my permit yet). This was Dad’s blue chevy pickup – standard transmission. Need I say anymore? Did fine driving up out of the hay field. It was the sharp turn coming through the gate onto the driveway that did me in . . . didn’t turn sharp enough and ended up in the lawn . . . slammed on the brake and killed it (I forgot all about the clutch!). Mom was cool, she just said start it up and get straightened out. Ok, easier said than done. I got it started and turned to get back on the drive way and low and behold . . . didn’t turn the wheel back to go straight down the driveway but instead went right through the barb wire fence into the hayfield. Guess what? I slammed on the brakes (again without using the clutch) and killed it. I said forget it. Mom had to drive it out of the field.
Dad’s take on it? You and your mother will need to fix the fence. This wasn’t a small mend but 30 feet! Well, needless to say, come October, Dad was out there fixing the fence. And I never lived it down!
When it came time to take Driver’s Education in school, went to registration and well . . . the sign said your birthday had to be before a certain date (it seemed like it was an October or November date and mine was in December). So, I was trying to figure out what else I would take when my mom asked if I got signed up. I told her I couldn’t and she said they changed the date . . . sure enough, I can sign up so off I went. The first day of class we were filling out the paperwork to get our Learner’s Permit. I got in an argument/discussion with my teacher about the county I lived in. I was putting down Thurston and he said that was not possible. It was Lewis. (We actually lived in Thurston with a Centralia mailing address – our house was 1/2 mile from the county line). During school, we did classroom work and had the actual driving lessons after school. I had a really good teacher. The car we had was a Dodge (I can’t remember anything else about it) with an automatic transmission. Passed the class . . . now it was to get practice in so I can get my license. Oh, wait, I don’t have a car to practice in. That was in 1975.
Ok . . . we need to find me a car. Did a lot of calling and asking questions and having Dad check things out. We finally found one that met everybody’s criteria – a 1968 Custom Ford – 4 doors, automatic transmission and not the greatest color. After doing some high financing with my parents (the total cost was $500 – I paid $250 and financed the rest with them), I had my car. Mom went out on my practices and then we finally went to the local Dept of Licensing. Paid the money and took the written exam. I think I passed it the first time. The Driving test was next. Not so good. I had to parallel park between two actual vehicles (I was lied to by my driving instructor in school – he said there would only be one). Did okay but forgot to use hand signals when pulling back out. Oh, and I didn’t exaggerate my looking over shoulder for traffic. And my car had a tendency of stopping in the crosswalks. All those minor points caused me to fail the exam. I was heart-broken. I so wanted my parents to be able to enjoy their wedding anniversary without us kids. Took the exam a second time and passed. That was in 1976 and I was getting ready to start my Junior year in High School.
Then I had to go to work to pay my debt and keep the car fueled.