My First Corner Was Almost My Last

We were all in grade school: Bernie Deutsch, Dale Honeyman, TomBurr and me, all in the eighth grade, all twelve years old. We had gone to spend the afternoon at Dale’s farmhouse. Dale had a large family, but that day the rest of the family was gone. They had three cars, but only two we gone that day. Dale had older brothers who had taught him how to drive. He decided to give each of us a chance to learn how to drive, and we were eager to learn. We drew straws to see who would go first. I won, so we got started with me driving. It was a 1938 Chevrolet sedan and had plenty of room for all of us. Dale put me in the driver’s seat and gave me clear instruction about how to shift and move out onto the country road. No safety belts at that time!

Everything went fine…until we came to Dean street where I made a left turn. I went around that corner at the same speed that I had been driving down the country road…ABOUT 30 MILES AN HOUR! This was the FIRST CORNER I had ever taken as a driver of a car. I didn’t know you had to slow down! We whizzed around that corner, went off the road onto a gravel shoulder. The back end of the car swung dangerously to the right! Fortunately for all, I managed to keep control and get back onto the main lane of the country road. Just a little faster and we might have rolled over injuring or killing one or more of us! Everyone was screaming and grabbing on for dear life! When we stopped after gaining complete control, Dale said, “Didn’t you know you were supposed to SLOW DOWN going around the corner?” Sheepishly; I said that I had no idea about that.

But I learned my lesson fast. It was one-trial learning! All my cornering after that near-miss was done with much greater care. It’s amazing to realize that all four of us could have been injured or killed that day. It’s amazing to realize that all four of us could have been injured or killed that day. Dale was an inexperienced instructor and I was an inexperienced driver. Dale drove us back to the farm where we went and fed some of the farm animals. We all had enough “driver training” for that day.

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