Driving a car at age 12 on a sandy road in lower Michigan

by James K. Sayre

On one of our summer vacations in the late 1950s at a lake in lower Michigan, we had a family blueberrying expedition. My Sayre grandparents were along and they had driven their car up from Detroit. We were driving down a narrow sandy private road in the blueberry woods, and suddenly my Grandmother, said, Jim, why don't you try driving for awhile."

My parents voiced some concerns, but soon I was behind the wheel, steering and pressing the gas pedal. Fortunately, their car had an automatic transmission, so there were basically only three controls: the steering wheel, the gas pedal and the brake pedal. I drove a few hundred yards, a little erotically, but no harm done. We got to a nice blueberry patch, where the blueberries were large and sweet and harvested a few small basketfuls. Grandparents were often good at spoiling their grandchildren.

That was the first, last and only time that I drove a car until I enrolled in the Driver's Education class at age 16 at Mount Lebanon High School. After getting my driver's license, I began to drive my parents' cars. I had a couple of small accidents as a teenager; in a parking lot, I turned the wheel too hard backing out of a parking space, and caught the neighboring car's rear fender with my front bumper. Later, while driving back from Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh in the winter, I slid on snow-covered icy road, Liberty Avenue, and bumped into the car in front of me.




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Web page last updated on 3 October 2007.