The year was 1975. Yes, contrary to popular belief we actually had cars back in those days. It was an era where wagons had simulated wood grain side panels and the 60′s muscle cars ruled the highways. No signs of a minivan, SUV, or a Yugo. It was a time when cars were fast, loud, dangerous, and cost a lot of money to maintain. It was rumored women were the same way.
And there I was, a lad ready to turn 16 dreaming and waiting for the day I would be eligible to get my drivers license. God, life was good.
But, I would have to be patient and wait those several excruciating months to my birthday. To wile away my time, I had many questions for my parents pertaining to driving. I asked how much insurance was, what kind of coverage I would have, where would I park my car, gas mileage of the cars, how fast dads car went, and how good were the brakes.
Well, after driving training classes I was ready for my drivers test. My mother took me out to the Austintown license bureau to take my test. As I was waiting for my turn behind the wheel, I remembered my brothers tips on how not to flunk the test. Apparently, you were supposed to keep both hands on the wheel at all times and keep the radio turned off.
Ten minutes later my name was called and I was told to follow the instructor to the test area. We got to my car, a 1971 Buick Lasabre four door, and the instructor did the once over inspecting the vehicle to verify its road worthiness. As we walked around the car, I noticed that the rear license plate was a 1975 plate and the front was a 1974. I was doomed!!! Amazingly, the instructor did not see the error and told me to get in the car, start the car, and then turn on the left turn signal, then the right, then the brake lights, and then to honk the horn. This was going to be simple. I would pass this test easy. The instructor got in and being the good student, I had my seat belt on, adjusted my mirror and then locked my door. Ahh oh. My door wouldn’t lock. When I pushed down on the lock, it just snapped right back up. I guess the instructor did not notice this error as well.
The actual test began as I made many left and right hand turns on some side streets that I was not familiar with. However, I was doing very well and as I was driving behind a white building, the instructor told me to pull into the lot and stop. When the vehicle stopped, he told me congratulations and that I had passed and he wrote down a few things and handed me a paper and told me to hand it in to obtain my license. I was puzzled for I hadn’t even did my parallel parking yet. I inquired but was told that I did so well on the streets and pulling into the parking lot that I had passed. With that, he got out of the car and walked into the back door of the building.
What a great feeling. I just passed my drivers license test and was ready to tackle the open road. Only problem was that I didn’t know where I was. After so many left and right turns, I didn’t know what street I was on. So, for my first official driving decision I drove down a one way street the wrong way so as not to get any more lost than I already was. I chose correctly coming out just one street away from the license bureau and proudly pulled in and parked the car. I actually smiled for my photo ID and was allowed to drive home.
Thunder road had begun. The streets would now be mine. I would own them. Baby I was born to run.
Flash ahead 28 years. My son is asking the same questions I asked my parents. He was on the edge of 16 toiling away at drivers training class studying and concentrating more than I have ever seen. Like father like son.
The six months my son held his permit flew by but to him, it was more like 10 years. It was now his time. I drove him out to the Ohio State Patrol license bureau for this rite of passage. I quickly saw the clerk at the front desk and completed all the paperwork. My son was ready. He was then told to wait in his vehicle and an instructor would be by soon. I was relegated to the waiting room. Being antsy myself, I decided to do my pacing outside.
Once outside I saw my son patiently waiting in his Jeep for the instructor to come pay him a visit. One of the other parents waiting told me good luck if my son got the woman instructor for she never passes teenagers on their first attempt. Since there were two instructors, my son had a 50/50 chance. Just his luck as the woman instructor came trotting out and headed for my sons Jeep. I heard the engine start and the turn signals flash and then the instructor get in the Jeep. My son told me that as she got in, she hit her head on the roll bar and he heard her head go conk.
Onward and upward I saw the Jeep begin to go over to the orange cones for parking when a GMC truck pulled right into his way and stopped. My son started again and the truck again began to move backing up cutting off my sons path. My son kept his cool and waited for the truck to complete his maneuvers. To the cones he went and slowly went forward and then slowly reversed out through the course without stopping or hitting any cones. He had passed that part for sure.
I watched as he passed me heading out onto the road and I paced around thinking back when I took my test. Ten minutes later, (that seemed like an eternity) I saw the Jeep come back into view. The Jeep pulled in and parked and the motor turned off. Several minutes later both doors opened and they started towards me who was still waiting outside. I asked how he did and the woman said ‘He did Ok”. I asked if he passed and she reluctantly said “yes, he did”. My son had won. He had beaten the odds.
Thunder road had begun. The streets would now be his. He would own them. Baby he was born to run.
Like I needed any more gray hair….
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LURKING, LICENSE AND REGISTRATION PLEASE, ON THE GRASSY KNOLL