When I was 16, my folks encouraged me to take Auto Driving during summer school. My father would take me out after dinner to practice—he seemed to be relaxed, but then he was good at putting on a poker face.
One evening, after a smooth practice run, I confidently pulled into the driveway. We shared the driveway with our neighbors; their kitchen faced the drive and Vic, the oldest of the three kids, was doing the dishes:
“Hey, watch out for the garage doors,” he yelled out the window. Without slowing down, I went through the closed garage doors, never hitting the brake, nothing!! The 1941 Chrysler stopped, its front end partially in the garage with pieces of wood and glass on the hood. Dad looked at me wide-eyed and calmly asked:
“Why didn’t you step on the brake?”
I was devastated and couldn’t answer him. I ran into the house, past my mother who had seen the whole thing, and up the stairs to my room. I was crying; what had I done? I was so sure I had wrecked Dad’s car. A few minutes later, he came into my room and told me we were going back out for a drive. I protested that I just couldn’t, I was too upset. He put his hand out and said:
“C’mon on, you have to get in the car and drive; if you don’t, you will never want to drive again.”
The garage doors were destroyed. I expected the car to be a mess, but there wasn’t a scratch to be found--Dad said this car was built like a tank. We took a short ride and when we returned home, he told me I did well. As we were getting out of the car, he said:
“It was time for me to get an overhead door anyway.”
A few days later, Vic came over and apologized:
“Boy, did I get holy hell from my mother. She blames me and my “stupid” shout for you hitting the doors. I’m really sorry!”
This “event” is part of my legacy, so my family tells me. I still hear about it all these years later. At the funeral home when Vic’s mother passed away, he and I recalled the “garage doors incident” and had a good laugh. She was probably looking down still telling him it was his fault!
A few years back, I wrote about this traumatic event, omitting Vic’s contribution. Seeing a photo of our childhood home, including the old garage, the memory came back and
Vic had to “pay his dues.” Sadly, he passed away not too long ago—he would have enjoyed reading and reliving our escapade.
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