When I was growing up in the late 1950’s through the 1960’s I heard all the stories about how our parents and grandparents walked miles to school and had no more than two outfits to wear. The only pair of shoes they owned was repaired by the local cobbler until it was certain there was no life left to save. The bathtub was in the kitchen and used only on Saturday nights so they were ready to wear their Sunday best to church. Automobiles were expensive and not readily available thus people walked almost everywhere or took public transportation. When I was about eleven we got a family automobile, it was a 1957 Dodge and my proud father bought it new. This was his first new car and it was two-tone green with fins in the back. Much to my chagrin it did not have power steering which caused me to fail my driving test not once but twice. I even scheduled my second test several miles from home just so I didn’t have to see the first old grouch who flunked me the first time. The Dodge had a push-button automatic transmission; and yes I heard all the stories about manual transmissions and how you had to hold the car in gear on a hill in order to pass your driving test. Such an easy task and I couldn’t even park this Dodge Coronet. One thing I have to be grateful for was my friend Linda. We became friends when our children very small, so we all piled in her car and went everywhere. One day I mentioned to her how much I would like to drive and she was determined to teach me. After all she did not want to drive all the time either. She had a big, did I say big……..1967 olive green Pontiac Bonneville four door sedan, it looked like a pimp car. I watched her from my third floor window and she could park it in a space two inches bigger than her car and always did it in one try. She was my hero. So she decided that I was going to get my driver’s license. She took me out one evening and made me drive, which I did without a problem, actually I could drive all along, I only had one real problem. Then she told me to parallel park. Butterflies immediately came to my stomach and refused to leave. But I did it; I parked on the first try. Expecting to go home now, she persisted and made me park that car at least fifteen more times. I would look in my rear view mirror and see a car coming down the block and freeze. She told me that they would wait for me to park but I screwed up and drove around the block. She would not let me off the hook. She made me do it again and again until I let the butterflies bother somebody else.
The day finally came and I got my license. She had four little girls and I had a boy and a girl. They all got out of the car and watched me take the test. When they saw me come back with a smile on my face, they were all jumping up and down with glee. I now had my license but it took a long time for the anxiety I felt to completely go away. When I drove somewhere, I always looked for a parking space on a corner or two spaces together, so I could pull in and straighten out easily. Finally I was forced to park in a tight single space and it was a snap. I won’t say that it always happened that way but little by little my confidence was strengthened and now after many years and many thousands of miles later, I cannot picture myself without a driver’s license. Thanks a million Linda for pushing me to take that scary step and erase my fears and put the pedal to the metal and only look back through the rear view mirror.
Originally published on HubPages.