Monday, March 12, 2012

Grinding Gears

Most of my contemporaries grew up driving stick shift automobiles, tractors and trucks.  It was a major accomplishment to get that smooth transition between the gears as one accelerated.  That movement of both feet in sync to shifting was almost like a ballet.  A thing of beauty when properly performed  When not performed properly the dance turned from a waltz or ballet to the jerk.
automobilebrandsofthepast.blogspot.com picture source


Personally in 1955 I was set back in my auto driving as I started learning on an automatic Oldsmobile 98.  Yes, at nine years old, I would crawl into the front seat, start the car and back down the dirt trail that led to the south fields of the Farnsworth place.  When I reached the gate, I would put the car in D and drive to the edge of the dirt driveway.  No telling how many hours I spent doing this routine back and forth.  Then Daddy traded for a used 1953 Ford stick shift .

That change in automobiles set me back a full 6 months behind Reba Jane.  Crook would put Reba in his lap and allow her to steer long before her feet could reach pedals.  By the time we were 10 years old we were driving those country roads along with all the other kids.  Most of the boys were driving tractors and combines for the family farms that dotted our community.
barrett-jackson.com source of picture
Our car was all black.

View of TI looking north to northeast,
Semiconductor building in upper center.
In 1958 my mom started working for Texas Instruments.  She would drive Arlene and I to the corner by Tom Thompson's.  We would sit and wait for the ladies she rode with to the plant just inside the Dallas city limits.  Even at 40 miles each way these farm wives were proud of the opportunity to earn $1.25 and hour.

With Mom on her way to TI, at the ripe old age of 12 years, I would drive my 4 year old sister the mile or so back to the Farnsworth house.  Propane gas stove in the kitchen, open Dearborne heaters in one or two rooms of the house and a path for a bathroom.  That would be around 4:00 pm and Daddy would not be home till sometimes 7 or 8 at night.  Before bedtime, I would crawl back in the car, Daddy in the pickup with Arlene.  We would go back to the corner and park the car for Mom to come home in after she returned from her second shift work.  That started in December of 1958 and did not end till Oct. 1961 when we moved to Allen, TX.

All chrome and fins!  And my mom had it
up to 100 mph more than once.
In the spring of 1960 driving in our family stepped up in the world.  The folks bought a 1959 Ford Galaxie 500 complete with air conditioning.  No indoor plumbing in the house but what a sweet ride!  I would bet some of my high school friends could have some great stories about Saturday night curzin' in that car.  And for the record, it was an automatic shift.

As I am becoming stronger after the knee surgery, I am discovering the need to learn a few new tricks.  The slight difference in the movement of the artificial joint can be a little unsettling as it begins to loosen up with healing.  So while I am strong enough to walk without much aid, I feel a little more secure having a cane or walker in hand.  Pretty sure that in no time I'll get the hang of the rhythmic needs of the knee and not longer be "grinding the gears".
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