Do you like to drive? Do you suffer from “road rage” at times? Are you a “speed limit” driver? The reason I ask is, the answer to all three of these questions, for me, is a resounding “YES!”

I love to drive. Sometimes, just getting out of the house and taking a drive to a random place (or Buc-ee’s) is a fun thing to do. I do admit to having road rage. Not the kind where I try to run people off the road, but I am a horn-honker and I verbally converse in the privacy of my car about the driving actions of others. I am a speed limit driver. If the speed limit is 55, I set my cruise for 55.

I remember when I learned to drive. It was in the hayfield in an old truck that had a column shift. For you youngsters, that’s when you have to use a clutch and you make an “H” on the column for your first, second and third gears. The hayfield was a great place to learn to drive. The speed was MOLASSES, there was no traffic and the worst thing I might hit was a bale of hay. A great way to learn, however!

From that, I graduated to my dad’s Opel. It was a standard but a “stick.” I learned at a young age how to properly execute the “letting off the clutch; ease on the gas” concept. Unfortunately, my friend Tonya Darby took a little time learning that. I took the Opel to Bethany Baptist Church parking lot and was going to teach her how to drive a standard. I gave her the whole “song and dance” about how to “EASE” off the clutch. Yeah;didn’t work. We went hopping across the parking lot several times. But, she finally got the hang of it and her first car, coincidentally, was a stick, so she was good to go.

I didn’t have a car the whole time I was in high school. My dad had Ford Fairmont by then (we had truly upgraded ourselves). I was allowed to drive it to school one day a week. That was the best day of the week. I appreciated the opportunity to drive; I didn’t take it for granted. I think kids get cars WAY too early these days, but that’s just my opinion so I shall keep it to myself. (Oops! Guess I didn’t do so well on that, did I?)

I saved all my graduation money to buy a car since I would be attending ETBC (now known as ETBU) and would be driving back and forth from home. We had a friend in Celeste, Texas who sold me his wife’s Chevrolet Impala. It was green, which was a great color for it, because it was a tank. I’m sure it got 8 miles to the gallon, at best, but it was MY car! I remember after driving it a while, it would sometimes have a problem starting. Our good friend, Bubba Crenshaw, was a mechanic and showed me what I needed to do. Lift the hood, get to the carburetor, put a trusty screw driver in to hold open the air flap, crank it, then get out, take out the screw driver, put the top back on and I was ready to go. Now, I’m not a mechanic, but I knew how to get that car going. It was a great car and got me to school and back a few years. When I got married, after about a year or two, we decided we were ready to get a new car. Jerry and his dad (Jack Dillard) were driving the car to the car dealership to see what we could get for a trade in. Daddy Jack laughed and said “son, the two best things about this car are the air conditioner and the radio.” BOTH went out on the way to the car dealership. They laughed until they cried!

We all attach memories to certain things in our lives.....vacation spots, holidays, monumental moments like birthdays and graduations. But, for me, I have wonderful memories of the cars I grew up driving. For you see, it isn’t just about learning to drive, but the adventure of driving itself. So when you’re driving or riding around with friends or family, pay attention to the surroundings.....people and places. Those are the times where memories are made. (Side note: I have upgraded to an automatic that cranks without a screwdriver. Life is GOOD!)

— Dawn Dillard is a proud East Texas gal who loves all things southern especially cooking, music and family. She can be reached via email at DLDplays88@aol.com.