Jerry's View: Learning to drive
by Jerry Robinson
Publisher Emeritus (1920-2014)
Most people who drive cars have had some embarrassing moments when they did something wrong during their beginner days. Not just getting a ticket for going too fast or going through a red light.
I had been lucky and had a clean driving history except for the day years before when I was going too fast down a hill in my 33 Plymouth coupe. I hit a nasty chuckhole which blew the wooden spokes out of both front wheels. As I watched both wheels with tires go sailing ahead of me, my car veered sharply to the left and amazingly went between two phone poles and came to rest head first in a huge pile of brush left there for later pickup by county road crews.
Is there a God? You bet.
In 1930 my mom took a driving lesson when I was about ten. Our car was parked near a field and Dad was giving her instructions. He got out, perhaps he had a premonition. She moved over and stepped on the gas pedal of the family Essex. It leaped forward veering directly into a row of freshly planted vine maples before she found the brake.
She never ever touched a steering wheel again.
By 1936 my brother Russ was able to acquire a 1929 Model A. It was beautiful. He was 18. We rode together to Jantzen Beach for the dances
“You know how to drive?”, he asked me one day in 1938. “Of course I do”, I eagerly responded. He wanted me to demonstrate how to back his Model A out of the garage on NE 24th St.
Easy sneezy I thought. I once had moved dad’s 1926 Essex in the driveway for a few feet. “This would be a cinch!”, I thought to myself. I must have inherited some of mom's gift for excitement. I put the car in reverse and stepped on the accelerator. To my surprise the car sped quickly backwards across the street, through the neighbor's yard, stopped only by a fresh pile of of firewood next to their house. Russ was steaming! I was embarrassed and quite sorry I had crumbled Russ' car.
He forgave me, even loaning me the car for a date one Sunday night. I ran out of gas on the Freemont Bridge so I left the car there. We walked the two miles home together. I was dog tired and forgot to tell Russ. He woke me to get the keys. I had to tell him the keys were with the car on the bridge. He was steamed again as he would be late for work.
I guess I've never changed. I have had my share of dumb moves like the day I parked in front of what used to be Seattle Trust bank on 152nd in Burien. No angle parking then, just parallel. I had recently bought a bright red Studebaker coupe. Just one door on each side. I was in a hurry and never looked in the rear view mirror as I opened my door. POW!! A passing truck smacked my open door, ripping it clean off. It clattered a goodly way down the street.
The truck ended up about twenty yards past me and my battered door another 20 feet. I was in minor shock from the unplanned event. The truck driver just scratched his head as I tried to apologize. I ran down and picked up my battered door and stowed it in my trunk, His bumper only had a little red paint scuff.
Luck runs in the family.