Baxter Black: The art of driving

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Most farm kids learn to drive early on. It's part of the responsibility given along with daily chores. They learn to drive from parents or siblings because it makes them more useful on the farm, though it creates some odd occasions. When my daughter was 13, we were having a barbeque at the house. Andy had parked his big 3/4 ton GMC 4x4 pickup with B&W turnover ball in front. We needed it moved. "Okay if Jennifer moves your truck?" I asked.

"Sure," he said. "The keys are in it."

"Jennifer, go move Uncle Andy's pickup. : Put it by the hay barn."

She raced to the big rig and climbed in. I saw her examining the gauges and knobs. Abruptly, she jumped out and came running over, "I can't drive it, Dad," she said, "It's an automatic!"

My son has been driving increasingly since he was 10 - jeeps, tractors, trucks, etc. Then came time for the driver's license test. He borrowed Mom's Buick Submarine. He flunked the test twice because he couldn't back it into a perpendicular parking space. Apparently, you're not allowed to run over the yellow lines and hit a tree! He finally borrowed Becky's small Chevy and passed the test! On the way home, he was jubilant. Mom suggested he gas up Becky's car as a way to thank her. He inserted the nozzle, ran into the store for a Monster pop, returned, jumped behind the wheel and took off : ripping the gasoline hose off at the pump!

'Course, he didn't have Aunt Effie's coaching. Back when I was a teen, I was visiting my Okie kinfolks. We'd been to a fiddlin' and they were letting me drive back to the farm. We'd come in their only vehicle, a 1953 Chevrolet long bed pickup.

It was rainin' buckets as we took the back way on the old section line roads, up and down the hollers, then up and down again! Out of exhaustion, I guess, the right side windshield wiper quit working! The lights cut tunnels into the streaming darkness. Aunt Effie was in the middle but nearly on my lap trying to see out the swiping fan of the left wiper! It was like looking through the porthole!

I was barely able to see the road over her staring and pushing to get a better view! She was giving a "play-by-play" of our location, driving instructions and chances of survival in a never-ending broadcast!

"Aunt Effie," I shouted over the pouring rain, "Can you reach the brakes from there?"

"Bax, honey, you know I can't drive! Bear to the right at the top of the hill! I believe that's the Slaughterville Road!"

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