Monday, July 21, 2014

"Madi Was 12 When I Taught Her To Drive"

Howdy Friends,

Watching the Waltons this morning, while feasting on my standard bowl of 6 grain oatmeal, the scene where John-Boy teaches his mother to drive reminded me of the first driving lesson I gave my sweet sister-in-law, Madi. It also put me in mind of the first lesson I gave our wonderful daughter, but that's a story for another day.
Kessy, Saturday and me workin'
Ravishin' Robbie and I still had our dairy farm when Madi asked to drive our old farm truck. It wasn't really a very old truck, but I had managed to flip it one day, that's another story, too, and I had cut the cab, windshield and doors off with a torch so we could use it on the farm. It was a neat roust about rig, no muffler but by golly it had a rocking 350 engine , 4 speed manual transmission and a radio that cranked out what today is older than "golden oldies." Gosh I miss Ferlin Husky, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Roy Clark. (And many others)

Back to the story. Madi was spending a few days with us on the farm and tagging along with me when I had to fire up the cut down Chevy to run out to the back pasture. We had the radio rocking, and even though Madi didn't join me in song, I'm pretty sure the air blowing her blond hair straight back, the loud engine and a little too fast driving had her as cranked up as I was. I seem to remember a smile as wide as that open cab and a her yelling, "Faster." Of course I had to cowboy a little, a few fishtails on the dusty bumpy field road added to the excitement.

Before we started back I asked her if she really wanted to drive. I don't remember any hesitation when she declared, "Heck yea!" Keep in mind we were pretty stoked, and giggly, and all alone in a field far from Ravishin' Robbie's stern looks. I shut off the engine, slid the bench seat all the way forward, and helped her to the driver's side.

She was a little gal, and looked adorable sitting on the edge of the seat and looking out through the steering wheel, her toes barely reaching the peddles. The clutch on that old truck was mighty stiff but Madi managed to push it in with her toes, a grunt and giggle. We took a few moments and ran through the basics, like where the gears are and shifting, how to gently let out the clutch while giving a little gas to pull out, and of course steering.

Now this old rig had one of those 4 speeds with what we called a granny gear; that is a very low first gear. On the road you would use second gear to pull out, but I knew Madi would do better and not stall if she started with the granny gear. After a few tries she nailed it! We took off like a jet, back wheels spinning, kicking up dust clean to the next county. Got to give it to her, she stayed straight and true on that twisty, bumpy field road, squealing with glee all the way. I think it was the first time I ever saw that old truck hit 30 miles an hour in low gear!

I had her rein the old girl in before the house came into view, you know to keep from getting Robbie all upset at our craziness, and we drove smooth as silk right up to the porch. We had a few more outings together in that chopped down Chevy, but I don't think either of us enjoyed them as much as that first day.

One of these days I'll tell you about the first day I taught our daughter Abbie to drive.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

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