My older sister, Billie, and I weren't taught to drive by our parents. We had been allowed to back the car out of the driveway so we could play basketball, but not to drive around town like many of the teens in our small town. I got really good at shooting freeshots and a little short jump shot the summer before taking driver's ed. because I backed that '59 Ford out of the driveway every day and put in a good hour or two practicing so I could drive the car back onto the drive. I had an itch to drive and thought the time would never come when I would feel the wind in my hair as I raced down the highway. (I had a very romanic idea about driving.)
The summer of 1963 was the summer to learn highway driving and we took diver's education. Billie was fifteen and I was fourteen. She hadn't wanted to take the class the year before (why I'll never understand). I couldn't believe I was actually going to be a licensed driver and could hardly wait each morning for Coach, with his blue eyes and easy smile, to pick me, Billie, and another young lady up to drive around the country side.
The first morning Coach pulled up to get us I nearly died. We weren't going to be driving around in some nice new car from a local dealership with the cool *student driver* sign on the back. No we were going to be driving around in a very old car owned by the school system -- something from the late '40s or early 50 that was a standard shift (three on the column) . This was the first time I had ever even been in a standard shift car and I had not clue as to how to make the car go forward or in reverse. It wasn't long, thankfully, before I had it down pretty well and could actually drive that old battleship down the country roads of Lamb county. We did have to drive in the big city of Littlefield to prove we could stop at red lights and park between cars on the street.
There was only one scary time for even me while I was driving. Coach was singing his theme song, I Left My Heart in San Fransico, Billie and co driver were talking in the backseat and I, instead of focasing on driving, began to drift in and out of the song and conversation and the car began to drift across the center line toward an oncoming vehicle. Fortunately Coach was paying attention, hit his break and took the steering wheel from me guiding the car back to the right side and safety. I went on to successfully complete the course, pass the driving test given by the state and have been driving ever since.
To this day I love to drive. The lure of the open road is still strong and if someone says, "Let's go," I'm always quick to say, "I'll drive." In my fantasy Coach is still riding beside me, eyes still blue, smile still easy, tan still dark and "I Left My Heart in San Fransico" on his lips.
1 day ago