News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 30, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: There’s always something new on road of life

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — I was asked the other day about when I learned to drive. The short answer is that it was later than most.

We had only one car and Dad needed it to earn the daily crust. Mom never did learn to drive, Ed was in the Navy, Mike was much too young and I was female and driving was deemed a skill I wouldn’t be needing.

However, being something of a modern woman who grew up after the horse and buggy era (yes, really!) I signed up for driver ed when I entered high school. Yorkville had no driver ed car. There was a war going on. Gas was rationed, tires were virtually unobtainable and so were new cars. So, those of us in driver ed class practiced shifting simulated gears while seated at our desks, simultaneously faking use of foot pedals.

It wasn’t until after I finished college and was hired by a small weekly newspaper that it became imperative that I learn to drive. So, the editor of the newspaper and I took the company car out into the country. About five miles out, he stopped the car, walked around to the passenger side and told me to scoot over and drive back to town.

I was so discombobulated that I eased the car into reverse, backing over a duck, and headed for town. We were just entering the city when my boss told me to drop him off at the office and proceed to the license office to get my drivers license!

My skills did improve with use and, by the time I moved from Missouri back to Illinois, I probably could have passed a road test. That wasn’t necessary, however, because Illinois recognized my Missouri license as proof that I knew what I was doing behind the wheel. I am still grateful that they didn’t ask that duck!

I’m not sure that my Best Friend would always agree that I know what I’m doing in the driver’s seat. We hadn’t been married long and had just bought a new car. I was part-timing at the local library and it was broad daylight when I went to work. But, when I checked out to go home, night had fallen. I could not figure out how to turn on the headlights! I tried and tried. Finally, I figured that I could duck across the highway and take the back road home and no one would be the wiser. Unfortunately, I crossed the highway about two blocks ahead of a police car, which followed me all the way home.

I explained that it was a new car and I didn’t know how to turn on the lights. The policeman had a good laugh. My BF had a good laugh and I learned something else about driving at night.

There’s always something new to learn.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to