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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When did you drive your first standard?


It's been so long ago that I had to look up the year and model of the car we had back then but then my memory bank started slowly powering up. The year was 1963 and our family car was a 1950 hydraulic shift Dodge. As you can see by the picture, it wasn't exactly a car to woo the girls.Now, picture that car with rusted paint, a few dents and lots of miles. That old car let out so much exhaust fumes that my friends used to call it "The bomb." They forgot about that when they used come over begging me to ask my stepfather if I could use the bomb to go out on the town because their fathers would let them use their family car.

I don't really remember when I got my license but I do remember using my future brother in-in-law's 1962 Chevrolet Impala to take my date to the junior/ senior prom. There was no way that I was going to take the Bomb. I remember my brother in laws’ car was a standard, so the 30 minutes or so of instructions I got from him was enough for me to take it to Victoria High School. I met my date, who had come in from Inez with friends, at the gym but I was supposed to take her home. I've kept trying to get one of my friends to double date with us but they had their own plans. I wanted one of them the drive. All during the prom, I kept wondering how I was going to take her home safely but I damn sure was not going to tell her I didn't know how to drive a standard. After the dance we found the car and she kept telling me how beautiful it was and I did admit it wasn't mine. We didn't get the very far before she asked to pull over and let her drive because as a country girl, she learned how to drive a standard pickup as soon as she could see over the windshield. On the way to her house, she told me all about her driving tractors and working on old cars. I was glad she drove because I remember Inez being pitch dark and her long driveway was not exactly made of smooth concrete. Compound all that with four or five dogs barking, I imagine this young 17 year old would have run into a tree. I'll skip the other details but the next day my brother- in -law asked me " How in the hell did you get the car so muddy and what's with all the grass?" My sister came over and asked him why he was hollering at me and I used that opportunity to slip away.

I didn't really learn how to drive a standard ,or as we like to call it "stick shift"until I went into the service. It was on the day we had jeep driving lessons. We were out pretty close to White Sands, New Mexico when my Sergeant told me to slip over into the driver's seat and to assume the driver’s position. We were surrounded by sand and I remember my sergeants words" pull over into the sand," I did and then I heard those words" Don't stop, don't stop, don't turn sharply put your foot on the clutch and put it 4 wheel drive." As I write this, I still can hear his words" don't you embarrass me; you better not get stuck." It's strange, I can't remember if I embarrassed him but all I can remember is the anxiety of my first real lesson in driving a standard vehicle.


Edith Ann said...

I learned how to drive stick shift in Driver's Ed with Mr. MacAllister in Refugio. It was a 1969 Ford Galaxy 500, brown. It was on the column and it was scary to take off from a light with an 18 wheeler on your bumper, and you kill it! We had a choice between automatic and standard.

By the time my kids went back to Refugio to take Driver's Ed, stick wasn't an option, so my dad had to let them learn in his truck.

Everyone needs to learn how to drive standard! I have had several cars with standard transmission. I know my Mustang would not have been nearly as much fun to drive with an automatic transmission!

My current car has the ability to be 'shifted' like a standard. I need to read the book and see why I would want to do that.

Rebecca said...

My step-dad taught me to drive in a standard pick-up when I was in ... fifth grade. I drove us home from school with a pillow at my back. ;)

Needless to say, out of fear, I learned some bad habits that lasted through adulthood. I was so scared that the car would jerk forward and back and forward and back, like I remember when I was a kid, that I became heavy on the clutch. Because of fear, my timing was off.

I enjoy driving standard because I feel like I am actively driving - I feel more engaged. It breaks a drive up into more pieces - driving in town is chunky whereas driving on highways is smooth and fluid.

I miss driving a standard, but they don't miss me. =P

Mike said...

You have an excellent memory.

How right you are. my sister had a Ford Mustang that was very enjoyable to drive. The clutch and gears were synchronized so well, that it was like driving an automatic wth much more power.
I used to have a stick shift Dodge Dakota that I bought because it was cheaper than buying an automatic and I enjoyed it for while but as I got older, city driving with the constant shifting started taking a toll on my left leg. Before Victoria got a Sam's Wholesale and Best Buy ,we used to take a lot of trips to Austin... As you well know, some of the stoplights and stop signs are located at the top of a hill. Victoria is so flat, so we don't get the experience of shifting gears in an uphill situation.

My wife had an automatic so I remember when I used to drive it , my first response was always to press down on the clutch it didn't have , out of habit.

Mike said...


Fifth grade????....

Driving a standard does make feel like you are actively driving and if every one had a standard it would cut down on texting while driving....:-)

"I miss driving a standard, but they don't miss me'...That sentence made me smile.

Edith Ann said...

That is funny Rebecca! I agree with the actively driving part of your comment.

Mike, you are right about the texting and driving. When I sold the Mustang, a friend's daughter had talked him into getting it for her-----until she learned it was standard transmission. She could drive a stick shift, but she couldn't drive and shift and talk on her call all at the same time...

I remember what my current thing is called--it's ad Auto/Stick. Again, now I am curious about it. I might be having more fun driving.

Okay, and for fun--a driver's ed story. Four years before me, my sister took driver's ed with Mr. Mac. In her class was a very wealthy woman from one of the local ranches. She had never learned to drive and wanted to. So she enrolled in the high school driver's ed class and arrived each day in the chauffeur-driven Rolls. For real.

Legion said...

I was in 6th or 7th grade. We had a ranch about 9 miles west of Goliad on the south side of the San Antonio river, off of what is now 288? back then it was a dirt road.

Anyway the ranch came with a 51 Willys Jeep. I learned on it then a year or so later moved up to the 65 Ford PU column shift.

Mike said...

Now I'm curios about that auto/stick drive....

A chauffeur-driven Rolls in Refugio?She must have been rolling in old oil money..:-)

Mike said...


Wow,you learned to drive in the 6th or 7th grade...I remember the last time I managed teen age Little League from the East Zone,the 15 year-olds came to practice in cars that were newer than the ones we drove.

I was a tweener, in the old days it was common for teenagers to drive but in my era it uncommon to see teenager drive;much less own a car.But that was in the city...Times have changed.

I don't know if a standard is desirable these days.

Edith Ann said...

You can find anything on YouTube!

Land and oil from money marrying land and oil.

Mike said...

Lol...itisi is a millionaire if he's paying a 33% tax rate..That's a net of at least $379,150 MFJ....Millionaire's are sking in Vail Colorado or visiting Europe not posting on the VA.

Mike said...

Capital gains is the tax one pays when they withdraw and cash in their stock or other capital gains property..the tax rate can be anywhere between 5% to 15%...15% is the top rate.

The president is talking about an Alternative Minimum Tax.(ATM).NOT raising the capital gains rate...The AMT would kick in if the taxpayer netted one million dollars... It's a calculation assuring that millionaires pay at least 30%... The president does not set tax rates; the House Ways and Means Committee does.... I seriously doubt that a republican House of Representatives would even consider the measure.

Mike said...

The double taxation itisi is confused about.

"If the company decides to pay out dividends, the earnings are taxed twice by the government because of the transfer of the money from the company to the shareholders. The first taxation occurs at the company's year-end when it must pay taxes on its earnings. The second taxation occurs when the shareholders receive the dividends, which come from the company's after-tax earnings. The shareholders pay taxes first as owners of a company that brings in earnings and then again as individuals, who must pay income taxes on their own personal dividend earnings.

Read more:

Mike said...

itisi is so dumb it should be a crime to to laugh.

He doesn't know a thing about effective rate which is the actual amount you pay...He says he pays 33% on his ordinary (he's a millionaire you know) and 15% on investments he cashed in...Let's say he netted $500,000 taxed on his rate of 33% would be $165,000,now he cashed out a 5000 taxed @ 15% stock and paid a 15% tax $750...That's taxable income of $505000/$165750(tax) that's an effective rate of 30.15%

Legion said...

Some people,itisi, just don't understand things.

Although both my mom and myself could not understand why some CPA s say what they do.

My mom had a stock...umm,MCI/Worldcom, it had went up in price considerable from her purchase price, she said why don't we sell it?

His answer? If you sell it, you will have to pay capital gains tax on it. NOW we know how taken that advice panned out, lost all the profit and the investment.

I guess to some the reason to invest is not to make a profit if it involves paying taxes on the profit.

Mike said...

I had a similar situation 10 years ago my old company gave us 200 sh in stock options.We could buy them or use a cashless option (meaning we could take the profit minus cost) anyway I forgot about them until I met a old coworker who told me he exercised his option reminding me we had until Dec 31,2010 so that afternoon In March I called Merrill Lynch and cashed out had them withhold 20% tax and I'm happier for it....

I'm going to try and make a respectful post to itisi blog tomorrow but I really hate to go through all that trouble just to get it deleted.

It's all about effective rate...Between you and Jasonbourne there's not a lot to add on that blog.

Mike said...

A great debate tonight where Newt an Mitt made money off Fannie & Freddie but now they blame them for the crisis,,Then the VP wannabe Santorum defends both of them.

Pilot said...

Funny you should ask. I drove my first standard shift car about two weeks before I had the learning experience of pulling my first transmission and replacing my first clutch. It was a '49 Ford 2-dor coupe with a flathead V8 and three on the tree. I would give a body part to have that car back in the condition it was in when I let it go in favor of my "batmobile" - a '60 Desoto, with a freezing air conditioner, a queen sized back seat, and a mash on the dash, pushbutton gearshifter......
I eventually went on to master standard shift autos, but living in Austin with 3D streets and some sloped terrain, I favored the automatic.
Okay, thinking back, I lied. My fisrt couple of standard shifts were motorcycles, that came after my first ride - a Cushman Hilander, with a "give it the gas and it goes" centrifugal clutch....
Goy my license unrestricted at the barely legal age of fourteen in '64. That little mistake by the Texas DPS, was adjusted back to sixteen pretty soon after(I have a teenager, and I think the driving age with driver;s ed shoule be about 26). Cool blog Mike