My car is in the garage collecting dust while we hunker down during this viral and economic crisis. I was thinking about this when the image of my dad’s old Hudson forced its way into my brain. It was not unlike the picture of the one I uploaded here.
It’s the car I learned to drive when I was sixteen. Dad would let me drive through the streets of Kensington, all the time giving me his driving tips.
Dad: “Watch out for anyone driving a Cadillac?”
Dad: “Because they think they own the damn road.”
Dad: “Don’t forget to signal when you turn. I hate the sons of bitchs that don’t signal.”
Dad: “Now, parallel park.”
Me: “I can’t do that. I haven’t learned how.”
Dad: “What the hell do you think you’re doing now. If you’re going to live in Kensington, there are two things you have to master. One is parallel parking; the other is driving down small streets with cars parked on both sides and not hitting one.”
Me: “Is it harder than learning to drive a stick shift?”
Dad: “Harder, much harder. Now do it.”
Finally, one day Dad said you’re ready for the test. He drove me to the Pennsylvania driver’s test place. I believe it was on or near Henry Ave. I passed the eye test and the written test and waited for the man to take me through the obstacle course.
It was a matter of pride that I pass the test the first time I took it. How would I face my dad and my friends who would rib me about it for months? And my brother, what about him. He would smack me on the back of my head and say I was an ass. Remember I said it was a Hudson? Well, that car was big, massive. It did not have power anything, and it was a stick shift. If I hit one cone parallel parking or making the snake pattern, it was over.
Well, it all turned out, and I have been driving now for almost 60 years. In all those years, I never once was allowed to drive my dad’s cars again.
How about you?
Originally posted on The Kensington Neighborhood Alumni Group on Facebook.