Who taught you to drive a car? How old were you? Do you remember the car?
Why I ask is, some friends of mine are at p[resent enduring the terrors and traumas of adolescent mobility expansion, with its attendant dangers and temptations. And teaching their off-spring to drive.
My dad taught me to drive, on a three-day, cross-country jaunt from Cleveland, Ohio to Santa Fe, NM, in the dead of winter, 1960-61. I was going on 15 (and large for my age).
He needed me to spell him at the wheel. We had a regimen: He drove two hours, I drove an hour, all the way, about 1800 miles, I reckon. It mostly WASN'T divided, limited-access roadway in those days. Though there were turnpikes: Ohio had one and Kansas, too, now that I think about it. On the Kansas Pike, iirc, the speed-limit was 80 or 85.
It was: Eggs, bacon, potatoes, juice and coffee for breakfast; burger and fries for lunch. Someplace where Pop could get a beer, with dinner. We saw "Psycho" the night we were in Lawrence, Ks, on old Route 66. Terrified me. Scary to return to a motel room after that, even with your dad...
But I "learned" to drive: To look around me, and be aware, and pay attention, and keep your eyes moving, from mirror to gauges, to speedo, to left and to right and start over again.
What I think now about it was it gave me a chance to really get in touch with the whole car/road/traffic thing in a real context. It was cool: we were in a '57 VW convertible, which would do 65 reliably as long as it was flat, and get 35 mpg...Both of us more or less chain-smoking Camels, swilling coffee and cokes, and constantly spinning the dial trying to find ANY music on an AM radio. The wing-windows blowing cold air in to dispel the smoke, the VW heater inadequately cooking away at our feet.
Not much daunted me after that in terms of automotive navigation. When I was 16, of course, I got my license. When I made rank, in Germany, in '66, I bought a car immediately, and my first jaunt was to Paris. It was crazy, but not really that different cruising the Plaza, nose-to-tail with every OTHER car in Santa Fe on Friday night; just more cars. Oh, and street cars; not many of them in northern New Mexico.
But still, Espanola was like dodge-'em cars in the '60s, with drive-in liquor stores on just about every corner. I was seasoned by the time I landed in Europe...Paris didn't cause me to break a sweat. Neither did Frankfurt, or Munich or Amsterdam, all places I drove to from the Kaserne at Zweibruchen, where I was stationed.
This year, it's been 50 years since I got my first driver's license, and I've worn the treads off scores of sets of tires. And I can still, sometimes, especially on the brink of a long journey, get that feeling like it's just me and Pop, and 1500 miles to Santa Fe.