One day I remember him cruising into our farm yard with a 1968 Dodge station wagon he bought for $200. It was a steal of a deal. Sky blue in color with a wood panel in the center section of the exterior. The interior was blue and it had a rumble seat in the very back. This is the car my dad taught me to drive when I was eight years old.
My dad always expected us to learn quickly with very little instruction. I was a very fast learner and always eager to please him and willing to try any new idea he had up his sleeve.
Here’s how I remember the driving lesson – dad was sitting in the passenger seat; I was in the driver’s seat sitting right on the edge grabbing on to the huge steering wheel just to keep myself close enough to the wheel to touch the pedals. Dad pointed at the gearshift attached to the steering column and said, “See this (pointing at the gearshift), take it and pull down until the pointer on the steering column goes to the letter D, then press on this floor pedal to make it go. When you want to stop, press on the pedal right next to the one that makes it go”. End of instructions!!! Now I was officially a driver.
So why do you teach an eight-year-old how to drive? To help on the farm of course! If you knew how to drive you could help on the farm. I would help move vehicles from field to field, drive tractor to do field work and drive trucks during harvest.
Having the imaginative mind, as I did, I would always think of something else to do with this skill. When my brother and I would be left alone on the farm we usually found mischief. One time we decided to have a little fun in the old 1968 Dodge. It was a fun game, or so we thought.
I was the driver and my brother was the passenger. I would close my eyes and he was to be my eyes and tell me where to drive around the yard. Yes, we would do this for fun. Me driving behind the wheel with my eyes shut and him in the passenger seat yelling to go left, right, straight, stop!
It was a fun game. And we never got caught by mom and dad. And we never hit anything! I’m sure we came very close.
Never leave a very creative thinking child by themselves for too long with nothing to do.