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By Alice M. Batzel

As a teenager, in 1969 I learned to drive a standard transmission gearshift with a car's dashboard that looked like the one in this photograph. It was a challenge to do the clutch with my foot and catch the feel of it just at the right moment that I should shift the gear on the steering column. My father gave me a brief demonstration at the high school driving education parking lot, then he got out of the car and stood on the sidewalk to observe my skill level. The car lurched forward, and the engine died numerous times, but not so many that I felt I was unskilled at it. When I made it to the end of the paved course and drove the car to where my father was waiting, for some reason, he jumped up on the curb and looked like he was going to jump over the hedge. Why? I was coming to a very graceful stop right where he was standing. I thought that my goal. We never went for another driving lesson.

I'm happy to report that even though I was 'required' to enroll in driver's education in school, I graduated the course and obtained my driver's license. Unfortunately, within an hour after getting my license, I backed the car into the light pole in the Piggly Wiggly grocery store parking lot. Upon learning about this event, my father exclaimed, "How could you not see the light pole? You were in a convertible, and the top was down!" I was grateful that Dad didn't emphasize the point that I was also driving an automatic transmission vehicle at the time. For some reason, things went very wrong that day, but, as a result, I did start looking for light poles in parking lots, and I made sure I parked far away from them.

(copyright 12/2017 - Alice M. Batzel - all rights reserved)

(photo credit: from the Facebook page of The Good Old Days)

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