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What do you remember about learning how to drive?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on June 11, 2008

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Photo of Lucas Culbertson

“I grew up in a rural community and learned to drive when I was about 10 years old in one of our pastures.”

Photo of Kathy Warner

“I just remember learning on a stick shift with no handle in a ‘69 Volvo. My dad always told us if we could master the ‘69 Volvo on a hill, we were ready.”

Photo of George Sundstrom

“I learned to drive on a tractor when I was probably 7 years old, and the most memorable thing about it was riding in the dump rake afterward and being able to do more work around the farm.”

Photo of Nikki Gibson

“I remember stalling out while backing out onto a busy street when I was learning how to drive a stick. I also remember getting yelled at a lot by the person who owned the truck.”

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Comments

Kaleb 6 years, 7 months ago

In 1980, a 1978 Chevy Pickup 3/4 Ton, 4 Speed, in the middle of a hay field while my dad was baling big round bales, I was 7, it was dark, had to run to the cooler sitting in the ditch on the side of the field to get him a beer, I was going too fast and slammed head on into a big round bale, jamming the grill and bending up the hood to where it wouldn't open he kept that pickup for quite sometime and reminded me for years how it was my fault. Oh well, I started driving a Chevy C-70 Grain Truck with air brakes at 14 to haul wheat, milo, corn or beans, whatever 12 miles to the elevator. Until college, then harvest, I would have rather driven the combine so I could drink beer and NOT get a DUI in the field LOL...

acg 6 years, 7 months ago

My dad was burning leaves at the end of the driveway. My mom was taking me out that day to learn how to drive. I backed out of the driveway and right over the open leaf fire. It was a bad start that day and only got worse. I was trying really hard and my mom was yelling directions at me one after the other and alternately shrieking at me like a howler monkey. By the end of two hours my nerves were shot, she had to take a valium and "go lie down" (my mother is a southern belle, they do that a lot). Two days later she paid some guy who owned Midwest Driving School (behind the old Food 4 Less) $500 to give me lessons. Those lessons consisted of 4 consecutive Saturdays worth of driving instruction. That meant, driving him over to the old Carol Lee Donut shop so he could drink coffee, eat crawlers and shoot the breeze for two hours with his cronies and then I'd drive him back. After those 4 Saturdays, he gave me a certificate to take to the DMV and they gave me a license with no testing of any kind. I never actually had someone teach me how to drive. After I got my license my parents gave me their old car and I had a lot of close calls that summer. So basically, long story short, I taught myself how to drive in a 1980 Olds Cutlass Supreme.

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 7 months ago

The folks went to town and I would take the old Dodge Desoto (push button automatic) on a little drive in the country. Ran it in the ditch a time or two but mom and dad never knew. Oh, I was twelve at the time.

countrygirl 6 years, 7 months ago

1970 Chevy pickup with no power steering, no power brakes and 4 speed. Me, Dad and a hay field when I was 10. Dad taught all of us kids to drive in that pickup figuring we could handle about anything once we learned to drive old green. It was good practice for the wheat truck that didn't have any power steering or power brakes either!

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years, 7 months ago

I remember sitting in a 1964 (Golden Anniversary) Dodge 440 station wagon with a push button transmission with reverse gear failing (no parallel parking practice, pal) and driving down gravel roads in what is now a high end community in Shawnee Mission. I think I had three driving "lessons" (15 minutes worth of verbal abuse) before I took my driving test. I could NOT drive. I had been over 25 mph ONCE. I think I passed because I honked at a school kid who was jaywalking.I was then handed keys to new (It wasn't mine. I just got the keys!~), bright, egg yolk yellow, 1973, 900cc, Toyota Corolla with 4 on the floor, with a brown, naugahyde-like, landau, given one parking lot lesson on shifting and told to four drive my sisters to and from school beginning the next week.I'd call it a trial by fire...set on an oil slick...in the Sinkorswim River!~)

dajudge 6 years, 7 months ago

My first experience with driving was in drivers ed.We just drove around and once drove up north to thenew I-70 and could drive on 4-lane at 75mph. Thatwas the speed limit back then. The county roadsdidn't have any speed limits, but we learned in drivers edthat for Kansas the speed limit was a safe and reasonablespeed for the current conditions. I really learned to drivethe summer I drove a cement truck with a compound transmission.Lots of double clutching and seeming close calls aroundconstruction sites almost tipping over. Gas was $0.189/gallon.The same for a Griff's Burger.

janeyb 6 years, 7 months ago

Uphill take-offs in a stick shift. My dad thought this was an absolute must. I still get nervous when stopped on westbound 29th at Burlingame Road in Topeka, and I drive an automatic. But thanks to Dad I was the girl in the Driiver's Ed car who could parallel park and the guys couldn't.

gogoplata 6 years, 7 months ago

The Dukes of Hazzard and Smokey and the Bandit. "Every gearjammer knows his name, they say he's got icewater runnin in his veins.A foot like lead and nerves like steel, he's gonna go to glory ridin 18 wheels.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

I learned to drive in a 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook. I recall that mastodons always had the right of way.

alm77 6 years, 7 months ago

I learned to drive on the gravel roads at 14 in my mom's 5 speed Mercury Topaz. She wouldn't let us get our licenses until we could drive a stick. I took my test in it a couple days after my 16th birthday and passed with flying colors.

canyon_wren 6 years, 7 months ago

I took Driver's Ed as a sophomore but didn't really get to drive till I was in college. My dad only let us practice driving in the high school parking lot, and when I took the test for a driver's license, I failed it. I had very little opportunity to drive early in my marriage since we were out West in the "boonies" and I never went anywhere by myself, but when we moved to Columbia, Mo, my husband wouldn't let me use our nice car to get a Missouri dr. license, so I had to drive our old 1954 GMC pickup with a stick shift. After the wide-open spaces of northern Arizona, the narrow streets of Columbia were a terror for me. The officer actually okayed me for the license, but told me not to tell anyone HE was the one who did!!

notajayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

Unlike many people (particularly my brother, whose unauthorized excursions since he was about 8 years old made my parents vigilant enough to make such early 'practice' impossible for myself), I had never even driven a vehicle so much as 2 feet before my first session of drivers ed. I got behind the wheel of the drivers ed car, parked on Main Street of the city where I lived (with pretty heavy traffic), and the instructor said "Okay, let's go." I looked at him like, 'What the heck do you mean let's go ... let's go how?'Later, when it came time for parallel parking, he wanted me to back into a space with the car behind sitting about three feet into the space he wanted me to get into (the drivers ed car was a large Ford Galaxy). I told him no way, but he insisted. I backed up, backed up, and hit the car. He said to pull up and try again. So I did - and hit the car again, too. He said to try again - same result. So he said "Okay, let's find another space."The driving school had this mantra, "Aim high, keep the eyes moving, and leave yourself an out." When asked what the "aim high" meant (the correct answer being keep your eyes up), the instructors were somewhat chagrined when I answered "Hit them above the waist?"My actual driving test took about 3 minutes, and I remember the guy giving the test getting mad because I was only going 5 mph over the limit (he said when I got to 10-15 mph then I should start to worry), and also getting mad because I didn't speed up to keep a school bus from pulling out of a parking lot. Really - he was saying "Hurry up, you're gonna' let him out." When the bus pulled out, he went nuts - "See, what the heck did I tell you: He who hesitates is lost!" I liked that guy.Many years later, the owner of the driving school had started a limo company, and he was driving the limo taking us from the church after my first wedding. I got in (slightly inebriated already), and said "Remember, Mr. ___, aim high, keep the eyes moving, and leave yourself an out." In retrospect, I should have remembered that before I said "I do."

sunflower_sue 6 years, 7 months ago

It was a '76 Ford LTD, and I had to sit on a pillow to see over the dash. Mom took me to the local college to drive in and out of lots and practice parking. Guess she thought I would do less damage since most students (back then) drove crappy wheels. I still haven't parallel parked a semi, but I think that LTD came close. Oh, and gas was $1.21. Adjusted for inflation, I think that would be about $4.19 today.When I bought my first new car, it was a stick and I couldn't drive it. The salesman took me out into the country and taught me how. My, how times have changed.

Bone777 6 years, 7 months ago

Pissy old curmudgeon, is the best way to describe my driver's ed instructor. He would slap the dashboard and yell almost as much as he would apply that damn passenger side brake.I remember watching him leave after class one day, excited to see how a true master drove....he proceeded to the bike rack, got on his bike and rode off.

ohjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

22 years later, I most remember what my driving instructor said the first time he had me go on the interstate. Out of the blue, he said, "yeah, pretty soon the speed limit on here will be 65... 'bout time." At the time I thought that it was a little odd a driving instructor would say something like that to a student, but now I just look back on it and laugh.

Jason Bowers-Chaika 6 years, 7 months ago

My school was fortunate in that the local car dealers donated brand new cars for us to learn to drive. Our driver Ed teacher was a chain smoker who had nicotine fits when nervous or frustrated. I recall many times he had us pull over and he stood at the curb muttering under his breath while he hot boxed his smoke. He might be proud of me now. I have zero tickets or accidents and now have a CDL.Once while practicing driving with my parents in the car my mom commented on how I hit the gas too hard from a stop sign. She said, "stop jerking off". I blushed. Dad told Mom, "You're going to traumatize the kid." We laughed about that for years.www.KansasEqualityCoalition.org

staff04 6 years, 7 months ago

I was 14 when I learned how to drive in my dad's ford pickup. On my first day of high school, I rolled in in a candy apple red 1971 MG Midget (yes, I actually bought it with money I had been saving for years)...I felt so cool.Later on in school, I had an old Ford Festiva. I could let that car idle, dump the clutch, and it wouldn't die! It would just start rolling. I heard later it was because the gears are plastic in those cars!

ms_canada 6 years, 7 months ago

We do say some funny things here!!! (unintentional) I live on the river bank high above the river, like 220ft. just down the street is an area that juts out a bit. It is a good place for lovers to park and smooze with a nice view of the city across the river. Well, one cold winter night a couple was smoozing and kept the car running for heat. Some how or other one of them stepped on the gas and the car shot over the edge and all the way down into the river. No, it did not sink, it was not too deep at that spot. BUT, it was pretty embarrassing, doubly so since the lady in question was not the fellows wifey. :o) It got in the paper, too.

jonas 6 years, 7 months ago

I just remember my driver's ed instructor seeming like he was one more good scare from a fatal heart-attack. I imagine most of them probably would have to be.

sunflower_sue 6 years, 7 months ago

prospector, It was all on the up and up (no pun there), but I'd have an apoplexy if one of my daughters did something so stupid.

ohjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

jonas - was there a hole in the passenger floor from all the times he slammed on the "safety brake"?

ms_canada 6 years, 7 months ago

I had just moved to Edmonton from Vancouver and needed to learn to drive to spell off my Dad on a long trip to his birthplace in Iowa and Mom's in St. Paul, Minn. Mom could not drive. When I told my new boyfriend, he offered to teach me. Well, that was a disaster and I feared he would be my BF no longer. So, I enrolled in the Joe Vine driving school and saved that friendship and a year later married the guy. Mom, Dad and I had a wonderful trip to their birth places and by the time I got back to Edmonton, I was quite an accomplised driver. Dad was a much more patient man than my future husband. But I must say hubby is actually quite patient with all my strange ways. How many hubbys would take me to the airport, kiss me, wave me off on a trip to Lawrence to meet a bunch of strangers. Especially when everyone else was warning me of the dangers of such a trip. Hi to Sunflower, Celleach, Bearded Gnome, Fangorn, (the departed from our midst), Azure Attitude and last but not least Extreme_Measures. also departed, the wonderful people I met in Lawrence.

stargazer 6 years, 7 months ago

Drivers License at 15. My first time out driving it was snowing. I couldnt get going again from stop signs. LMAO. 67 Pontiac. My parents old car. Wouldn't go over 30 mph, and OMG did it smoke. Could see me coming for a mile away. That was ok until I got a job at Kroger in Lawrence, where the Dillons on 23rd is now. 30 mph on 10 highway from Eudora was no fun at all.

Jillster 6 years, 7 months ago

I remember my sister crouching between the seat and the dashboard and screaming at me. That traumatized me so much I didn't actually get my license until I was 28 years old!

sgtwolverine 6 years, 7 months ago

I learned to drive in a full-size van on gravel roads. Everything else I drove felt small after that.I learned to drive a stick in a Dodge Stratus, but the fun really came when I got my first car: a 1991 Dodge Daytona. It used to be a five-speed manual, but the previous owner let his girlfriend -- who didn't know how to drive a stick -- drive the car, and she trashed first gear. So I had to start in second gear. But that was a great car nonetheless; I had it for about four years, and it never once broke down on me, and I had to make only one major repair (the muffler). I would have driven it longer, but I totaled it. Oh well.

Chris Golledge 6 years, 7 months ago

Hayfield in a '68 Dodge pickup, and my dad yelling, "I said STOP, dammit!"

trinity 6 years, 7 months ago

driving a '47 willys jeep(panel, no windows)'round&'round our fairly big front yard when i was bout 9. that thing was cool, had a button starter on the floor! :)

mom_of_three 6 years, 7 months ago

I was 15, taking driver's ed during the summer. Had to learn to drive a stick and automatic. HATED the stick, and popped the clutch oh so many times. I remember killing it on a 2 way stop, in the middle of a truck route, with a semi coming down the road. I think I even scared our instructor, as well as my 3 friends in the back seat. Next time I went to the Wichita area, it was in an automatic.

lily 6 years, 7 months ago

1972 Impala on gravel roads. My Dad was a great instructor. Patient, never lost his cool. He said "when you get your license, I'm done driving". I barely had it before he died. He made sure my brothers and I could drive in anything which is why he took us to KC at rush hour!! My driver's ed instructor ended up being one of my junior high teachers! I still have a hard time with sharp corners!!

H_Lecter 6 years, 7 months ago

"We'll roll it about a block away and then start it. Don't worry, they're asleep.""Give it gas and dump the clutch.""Don't worry, it's only 3.2."

weatherguy48 6 years, 7 months ago

Learned to drive in a pasture when I was 12-13 or so. Took driver's ed in high school when I was 14. We had to drive a Ford minivan.

jonas 6 years, 7 months ago

ohjayhawk: No, but our car was only in it's 1st or 2nd year of operation. We rotated them every three years or so, probably because of just what you're talking about. He got me all the time because I didn't see the point of coming to a full stop when a slow rolling stop gives you plenty of time to look and stop if need be (and I still think that way!), but the most hair-raising incident was with my car partner who got onto the interstate, saw an 18 wheeler coming in the rear-view, and decided in panic to Slow Down! I think we all nearly died.

juscin3 6 years, 7 months ago

I was 16 and took drivers ed at LHS during the summer. I had never been behind the wheel so my instructor who was kind enough to tell me that "the best drivers come from learning in drivers ed and never drove before." Little did he know, when it came time to drive the stick and being over at Haskell and stopping at a hill, he should have known better. I remember after the third time of tryin to stop and then go on that hill, he just told me to go. Now we have a 16 yr old that drives like he is nervous when we are watching him, and knowing when we aren't around he will drive like a maniac. I have a feeling we are goin to pay out the wazoo (sp?) on his car insurance. :(

George_Braziller 6 years, 7 months ago

Driver's Ed class - Summer of 1976. Three of us plus the instructor in a car on I-70 going 55 m.p.h. The girl who was driving made a minor error that the instructor pointed out. She proceeded to let go of the steering wheel and hide her face in her hands.

gccs14r 6 years, 7 months ago

I started driving when I was five ('62 Tempest). By the time I was six, I could reach the pedals ('66 Fairlane). By 10, I was driving regularly in Tulsa traffic ('62 Impala, '73 Grand Prix), and by 14, I drove all the time ('77 Chevy pickup). I was 16 and fully licensed by the time I took Driver's Ed, which I took for the insurance break. I did learn a repeatable technique for parallel parking, so it wasn't a total waste.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 7 months ago

when I learned to drive? oh, all the d----d bodies...where'd they all come from?autie, I'd love to hear the rest of how your buddy happened to blow out the back window!"I grew up in a rural community and learned to drive when I was about 10 years old in one of our pastures."--oh, the inhumanity, all the cow pies! guess they provided safety cushions. ***galaxy, fairlane, ltd, impala, wow! these cars kept you really safe! not like today's aluminum cans with four wheels! and, howdy back to you msc! I'm so glad i met you. next time, bring that cranky canadian husband down here with you, maybe in january, ha.

ihatelv 6 years, 7 months ago

It wasn't hard to just drive.. But learning how to drive while your girl was going down on you.... now that was hard....

gccs14r 6 years, 7 months ago

"galaxy, fairlane, ltd, impala, wow! these cars kept you really safe! not like today's aluminum cans with four wheels!"You'd be surprised. Those old cars looked imposing, but often enough had no integrity and would fold up like a cheap tent. I saw a '59 Impala run headlong into a utility pole in a test and the car didn't stop until the utility pole was partway through the windshield. New cars are smaller and lighter, but they're made with high-strength materials and are engineered to pass collision forces around the passenger compartment, sparing the occupants.

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