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michel88

Did you wait until you had your license before driving a car?

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I was a car crazy 14 year back in1958 and couldn't wait to drive.  My Dad knew this and one Saturday morning he took me to visit a friend who had a farm.  When we got there I was very surprised when the friend said I could drive his tractor around the farm.  It was fun and exciting and I learned the basics of using a clutch and shifting.  This would prove to be useful very soon.  My Mom worked at a medical center and one of the young interns had a Austin Healey and agreed to take us for a very spirited ride.  When we got back to the very large parking lot, he said would I like to drive the Healey around the lot?  I would very much!  I drove around about 4 laps in first and second gear and was thrilled to say the least.  Then he said to pull into a parking space by the wall of the Medial center.  I drove toward the wall and momentarily panicked as I approached the wall, but I hit the brakes and stopped in time.  I will never forget that day!

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I learned to drive in my father's '29 Packard Super 8 club sedan. I was 12 years old. I still have a '29 Super, this one a roadster. 

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I talked a babysitter into letting me back the car out of the driveway when I was 12. Pulling it back in I drove into the house which had aluminum siding. What a mess I made of the house. My father wanted to kill me when he got home.

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With me at about ten years old it was not cars I started with but yard tucks  : cab over Chevy flat bed, International boom truck welding trucks, what ever.

During the summers on weekends until I was 18 I would help my father with repairs on tow boats, barges and the small  work boats.

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When I was about 6, my grandmother and I boarded at a farm in NY State for a month.  The farmer's son had a '34 Chevy running chassis, with only the driver's seat.  He taught me to drive it on farm roads, unpaved ruts with grass in between, sitting on his lap so I could reach stuff.

 

At last year's Hershey Hangover, one participant let an 11-year-old drive his 6-cylinder 1907 Ford Model K around a deserted parking lot, low gear only, alone.  That kid is hooked!

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It was two days before my actual driver's license came to fruition. I was 16. I was in my backyard tinkering with my 1931 Dodge coupe. I had just gotten it running and wanted SOOOOO bad to go for a test drive. All of a sudden, I heard sirens. It sounded like whatever was going on was VERY close. I just HAD to go investigate. I hopped in the old '31 and drove down the alley that was behind our home and went up the street to St. Mary's High School where there was a small fire in progress. Wow.... a fire at the school! As I drove by the event, I noticed in my rear view mirror that a Royal Oak cop car pulled out after I went by. He followed me up the street, around the corner and up the alley behind me as I drove back home. I pretended not to notice him. As I parked the Dodge, I saw the cop pull up right behind me. Again, I pretended not to notice and as I walked towards the back of our house, the cop says, "Excuse me". I turned around and acted surprised that he was there. I came back to him and he says, "Can I see your driver's license and registration, please". I came back to him and pulled out my green permit....NOT a license. He takes it, looks at it and then peers into my car. He then says, "Do you see anyone else in your car?". I said no and he says, "Doesn't this permit say that you are required to have an adult in the car with you when you drive with your permit?". I said yes and he said he didn't see anyone else in the car, either. I sadly looked down at my shoes. He then asks if I have a license plate for the car. I said that there is one on there. He looks at the plate and he says, "1931 Michigan license plate?". I gave him a (fake) story about someone saying to me that it was OK to drive an antique car with antique license plates on it. I gave him a coy, innocent look and he says, "You are mistaken. The person must have meant 'historical' plates". Those are special license plates that you have to purchase from the Michigan Secretary of State in order to drive this on the road. I said, "Oh" and although I already knew that, he took the story hook, line and sinker. He says to me to park the car until I get my REAL license in a couple of days. I said, "OK and thank you, sir" and he walked away shaking his head. WHEW! No ticket.   

16 year old John.jpg

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When I was 13, I was riding with my Dad in his 1911 Model T Ford. He stopped on a back road and said "your turn". I stalled it and had to get out and crank and then mastered the planetary. The car is mine now and have done several Model T Tours. It was also used in my Daughters wedding last summer. 

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I knew from the age of 10 that my father would teach me to drive in my 12th Birthday, just as he did with my brother.  On my 12th birthday he did so as soon as he came home from work.  Later he would take me to his companies campus on Sundays to drive their 2 miles of paved roads.  After that I was very good a shuffling cars in our driveway.  At that time he had 3 cars, a 47 Cadillac Conv. a 50 Austin Saloon and a 54 Metropolitan Conv.  That was Princeton NJ in 1957 and a real driver's license wasn't available until age 17.  Fortunately we moved to Florida  at 14 and got a learner's permit and a motorcycle license to use from 14 to 16.   On my 16th birthday,  Dad gave me a note to take to school, with permission to be able to take the afternoon off "o accompany him on a legal matter".  That day I took my driver's test in dad's new 61 VW Bug.  (I still have a VW Bug)

Edited by Paul Dobbin
spilling errors (see edit history)

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When I was 15 I was with this older girl and we were just pulling out from a very secluded place by a river when a cop saw us.

He stopped me and asked how old the girl was,  She was 18 so the cop let us go. Didn't ask for my license. (I didn't have one)

I got lucky a couple of times that night.

 

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My father taught me to drive when I was 13 on our 1930 Model A Ford roadster. He figured it wasn't fast enough to get in trouble if I screwed up (and the E-brake was over there where he could grab it). Also, it taught me everything I needed to know all at once: how to use a manual transmission, how to double-clutch, safe following distances, and perhaps most importantly, how to not screw it all up--as he pointed out, "You can stall it six or seven times, then we're pushing, cranking, or walking." That was a real motivator and I figured it out pretty quickly.

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My mom and I lived several miles from the closest town after my dad passed away in 1953. When I turned 12 in 1955 she said I was old enough to learn to drive in case she got ill or hurt and needed to get to town, so she taught me to drive her 46 Plymouth. Since I  had driven our old ford tractor helping around the farm for some time I already knew the basics of the clutch, steering, etc. I learned quickly. So I hardly remember a time I was not driving. Necessity is a great teacher.

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 I started driving when I was 15. When I took driving lessons at age 18, (my fathers idea as he wouldn't let me drive without the discount that the state offered for it) the instructor let me drive about two blocks and said that the other kids needed more time driving than me.

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I got to drive quite a lot before I was legal (16 in Tennessee).  Part of it was on a farm driving anything, part on a country road with my younger cousin, and the rest in town as Dad and Mom both worked and "might need me to do some errands".  It helped considerably that it was a small town and Dad was a part time cop, deputy, collector agent, and they owned the Credit Bureau.  Back then I just thought I was lucky or must have looked "legal". Another thing that didn't dawn on me back then was that I was a polio kid, and they did everything they could to keep me off bicycles or motor scooters....they might have thought the car was safer. It certainly was slower...a 55 Studebaker Champion 3 speed, ha !  I had to set on and also had a cushion behind me in the earlier days.  LOVE and appreciate so much my good fortune of having those times.  

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