Friday, November 2, 2007

Violet Learns to Drive

My mother, Violet Uhl Marshall Funston, wrote her life story, My First Eighty-Six Years: A Midwestern Life, in 1997. She died earlier this year at the age of 95, but it seems appropriate to use her work as an example of what we all can and should do to record our stories for our families. This story also is reprinted in Remembering Violet (see below).

How I Learned to Drive, by Violet Uhl Marshall Funston

My mother's brother Bert bought a Model-T Ford. He also bought a long linen duster, dark goggles, a special cap, and driving gloves, the accepted costume for all drivers. There were many cars in the cities already, but few in our small town, so I was fascinated by that Model-T. Every week I helped my uncle wash and polish that car. I liked to sit in it and pretend I was driving. I also liked to toot the horn. It made a wonderful noise, "Ah-Ooh-Ah," which frightened the neighbors' chickens, and according to the neighbors, affected their egg production.

Every night in my prayers, I asked God to have my uncle Bert, Grandma, and Grandpa take me riding the next Sunday. I sat in the front seat with my uncle and watched everything he did and asked him questions. Finally, I decided driving a car was not very difficult, and I started "bugging" my uncle to teach me to drive. Very few women drove cars then, and no children, especially girls. He finally agreed to teach me. We had our lessons in the cow pasture of a farm my Grandpa Blanchard owned. I learned to drive quickly, and I still believe that if you can drive a Model-T Ford, you can drive anything.

1 comment:

storyteller said...

Brings back memories. Actually my brother (who was 9 years my senior) taught me to drive (as well at to water-ski & plan tennis) when I was 12 (much to the dismay of our parents). He inherited a 54 Plymouth from our Aunt after her husband (our Mom's favorite brother) died suddenly of a heart attack in his mid 40s. At first, I drove forward and back in our long driveway with Dave at my side. Once I'd mastered the "clutch and stick shift", we moved to the private roads surrounding the company where my brother worked as a "messenger" days (while attending college nights).

When I finished Driver's Ed at the age of 15 and a half, Dave volunteered to take me to the DMV for my written test. When I passed with flying colors, he insisted I take the driving test as well. My folks (and friends) were amazed when I returned with a real license rather than the lerner's permit they expected.

I miss my brother who died too early himself in 1998.