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Getting in Gear

Kathy Werner
Posted 10/22/21

When I was 16, my father and mother taught me how to drive on a car with automatic transmission. Soon after I got my license, however, my parents purchased a gorgeous red Ford Mustang convertible …

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Lifelines

Getting in Gear

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When I was 16, my father and mother taught me how to drive on a car with automatic transmission. Soon after I got my license, however, my parents purchased a gorgeous red Ford Mustang convertible with a standard four-on-the-floor stick shift.

It was a beauty and even had a button that would emit a whinny. You know, like a Mustang. Oh yeah, it was some car.

I’m not a motorhead by any stretch of the imagination, but I did learn how to drive standard on that beautiful Mustang. And that vehicle was the chariot that led us to many adventures, as well as the actual scene of many escapades.

One of the earliest was the day I came over the railroad tracks in Callicoon, headed to Lower Main Street and a large milk tanker was barreling down Lower Main. I took a good look at it and decided I could make a left turn in front of it with time to spare. The tanker driver slammed on his brakes and the burning rubber and shriek of the tires told me that the trucker thought otherwise. When my mother regained the power of speech, her comment was, “You almost got us killed.”

You know mothers—always over-reacting. I mean, I’m here to tell the story, right?

Then there was the day I went to put gas in the Mustang down at Roche’s Garage, back in the days when the gas pumps sat right in front of the door. Loud yelling ensued as the guy pumping the gas realized that it was flowing all over the pavement. Little crack in the gas tank, I guess. You know how rough the back roads in Sullivan County are, right? Oopsie.

My sisters and I took lots of rides all over in that convertible, and we often put the top down or up while in motion. There were no seat belt laws back then, which did make it easier to do. Safety last, you know. It was all part of the fun and further proof that frontal lobe development is incomplete in teenagers.

Then there was the time I was backing down the driveway and someone yelled that I had a call. I hopped out of the car and ran inside to take the call, only to hear loud screams coming from outside. Apparently, the car was still rolling down the hill and my brother and sister were hanging onto the doors trying to keep it from moving. Double oopsie. All’s well that ends well, and someone got the car stopped.

Of course, this particular incident made it into the Greatest Hits Edition of Family Legends, so I like to tell it on myself. The only reason it happened is because cell phones hadn’t been invented yet. If I’d had a cell phone, I could have stayed in the car. Technology and gravity—my two greatest nemeses.

The great thing about driving that Mustang was that its transmission was very forgiving. After a dead stop, you could get it moving again in first, second, or even third gear. I mean, it didn’t sound great, but it did move.

A few years ago, the guy down the street had a red Mustang convertible for sale, and I have to admit that I was tempted to take a test drive, although I haven’t driven a stick shift in ages. Best to let my fond memories of that first Mustang remain unsullied.

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  • lhfc1563@yahoo.com

    You know mothers—always over-reacting.

    Daughters always massive overreacting, learned from the mother, turned into drama-queen!

    Best leave driving alone now.

    Friday, October 22 Report this