The Driving Lesson

COAL: 1967 Dodge Dart Sedan Slant-6 – A School Teacher Car | Curbside  Classic
The 1967 Dodge Dart 4-Door Sedan was labeled a “compact car.” It came with automatic transmission, but required more than a automaton to get it safely inside the carport.

Mom failed the driver’s license test three times before finally passing. The DMV probably just gave up from exasperation.  Or pity.  Either way, theirs was a decision clearly against the public interest. 

She was the worst driver I’d ever seen. Couldn’t stick to a lane, never drove the posted speed limit, and maintained the horrendous habit of talking with and looking at passengers while driving.  More hazardous still, she lacked what could charitably be called “driver’s situational awareness.” Other vehicles, pedestrians, the occasional horse, would just suddenly appear as if out of thin air. “I just didn’t see them,” Mom would recall after accidents.

But all her failings came in mighty handy when it was my time to take the wheel. I’ll explain.

Dad started my on-pavement training.  He drove our 1967 Dodge Dart to a large and empty church parking lot, then allowed me to get behind the wheel for the first time and get a feel for the basics.  It was there that my initiation began, by starting the engine, shifting into drive, softly pressing down on the gas pedal and just as softly engaging the brake.  All these individual tasks were going well, so Dad felt confident enough to let me “take ‘er home.”

Shaking with nerves and exhilaration, I maneuvered the Dart into traffic and drove about a mile to our house.  So far, so good.  But as I turned the car into our driveway a bit too quickly, Dad started shouting, “Break, BREAK, BRRREEEEAAAAKKK!” 

My foot, planted firmly on the gas pedal, followed Dad’s instructions to the letter. The car sped up, crashed and BROKE the center carport support beam.

“Well, you said ‘break’,” I grimaced and let out an embarrassed giggle. Dad was not amused.

After the “break” incident, we decided that Mom’s patient tutelage would be best. Afterall, she’d be calmly oblivious to any impending disaster. 

10 thoughts on “The Driving Lesson

  1. Hi Daniel,  my first driving lesson was with my father too. Our car was a 1955 stick shift, sky blue Plymouth. My dad and I were in our garage and I was practicing shifting gears and starting and stopping the engine. Then my father said to put it in reverse and take my foot off the clutch and press on the accelerator. So I did that and the car went ka chunk ka chunk and stopped.  My dad turned to me and yelled, “what did you do that for?” I said. “That’s what you told me to do!” That was also my last lesson with my dad. I got out of the car and switched to Lessons with my mom. I enjoy your dreck. Keep them coming Shelley Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S8, an AT&T 5G Evolution capable smartphone

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  2. HAHAHAHAHA! That was so funny! Brought back memories of when Mom taught me how to drive our orange VW fast-back. It was a stick and I’d always stall out on this one road in Leavenworth. Cars would line up behind us and I’d be so nervous trying to get the car restarted and up the hill without rolling backward and crashing into the car behind us. Fortunately, Kansans are very patient people and not one person honked at me to hurry up.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Daniel!

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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  3. Very funny story Daniel.

    My mom was a maniac behind the wheel of her pea green VW bug. She darted everywhere with the stick shift. She’s load the thing up with kids and head off to the pool or wherever. She loved her little car.

    I got to own it by taking up skiing and crashing into a snow bank soon after getting my license. I shortened it up by about 6 inches. Oh what memories.

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  4. My older sister Bonnie taught me to drive and dance too. The car was a early 50s Chrysler on gravel backroads in Kentucky.
    She’s still the best driver in the family!

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