My parents were married in 1952 and didn’t get a car until the very late 60’s or early 70’s. I don’t remember any more, but I do remember the 1964 Dodge Dart. It was was a used car and we went a long way around the bush to get it.
My mother wanted my father to get his driver’s license. She nagged him about it and he always refused. When she felt she was never going to get anywhere with him, she decided to use psychology. If he wasn’t going to get a driver’s license, she would. So she studied and passed the test for the permit without a problem and started taking lessons from a driving school. My father seemed disinterested in the whole thing.
My mother took her first road test and failed it. My father got some satisfaction out of that because she also failed to show him up. My mother became more determined to pass the road test the second time, but she failed again. I knew that made my father secretly happy because my mother’s plan to show him up was backfiring. My mother took more lessons and went back to take the road test a third time. This time she failed yet again. And, if you’ve read my blog on my mother playing checkers and Rummy 500 with my father, you might remember that my mother is a sore loser. So now my mother vowed she was done with driving! That is when my father decides he is going to learn to drive!
Now my father wants to show my mother up, but he has a big obstacle, he can’t read English and the test isn’t given in Italian. My mother hires an Italian woman who teaches Italians how to pass the written test for the permit. I watched her teach my father how to look for certain words in the questions and then pick out the right answer. I am still amazed at that system, mostly because it worked. My father passed the test for the permit on the first try. He then went to get his own driving instructor, one that a friend of his used. My father passed the road test on the first try. He was elated because he had shown my mother how easy it was for him and it reminded her again of how miserably she failed. However, my mother’s original goal was not for her to learn to drive, but for my father to get his license, so in that respect she really won.
Now to pick out a car. They didn’t want to get a new car to park on the street, so they went to a couple of used car lots and ended up picking out our first car, a 1964 Dodge Dart. We had that car for a few years too because we never took long trips. My father, who used to take public transportation to work, now planned to use the car. He worked in different places all the time because he was in construction. And while he knew his way around the city with buses and trains, he was unfamiliar with the roads. So he used me as his “mapquest.” He would give me an address and I would locate it on the map and tell him how to get there. If he was unsure of the route, we would drive there together and I would tell him where to turn. He always learned how to get there on one try. The car ended up making his life a lot easier. In fact, all our lives were made easier because we would be able to visit our relatives without long waits in the heat and cold waiting for buses. My father even came to pick me up at college so many times. when he wasn’t able to work in bad weather. Those were the times I really needed a ride too because I was taking three buses back and forth from home.
Several years later, the old Dodge Dart just couldn’t go on. It needed major repairs and my parents decided to get another used car…another Dodge Dart. That second car also served us well for many years. Then came the end of the cars for our family.
My mother’s sister, Mary died in 1990. She left her money to my mother, her last remaining living sibling. My father wanted to use some of that money for a new car. My mother went out looking at cars with him. They could not decide on which car to get. She hated what he picked out and he didn’t want anything to do with the car she picked out. It was a stalemate! I don’t know if they stopped making Dodge Darts by then either. But, for a while there was a lot of arguing and neither of them would back down. My father was retired, so he didn’t care about owning a car any more. All my mother’s siblings had died so there was no one left to visit and besides, my husband and I had two cars to take them places if they needed to go. She wasn’t that concerned about having a car either. The end result was that they never got another car.
It didn’t inconvenience them much at all. They really did all their business in the neighborhood and were not afraid to walk long distances to get where they needed to go. An occasional car service trip was certainly a lot less money than owning a car. Everything seemed to worked out for the best.
I really loved those Dodge Darts. When it was time to get rid of them I shed a few tears. I don’t know how we can get attached to material objects like that. There were many family memories made in those two cars and many laughs had.