Posted by: silverstar98121 | June 27, 2008

Learning to Drive

Living in a rural area, learning to drive was a rite of passage. I was amused by Rob’s tale of his early driving escapades, but I have nothing similar to offer.
My introduction to driving, however, was traumatic. First off, I was trained to drive in a gray 1949 Plymouth. The danged thing was older than I was. And of course, it was a manual transmission. Three on the Tree, as Rob likes to say. That was traumatic enough. But my dad is the one who was the driving teacher. That was worse.
The lessons began before I was ever old enough for a learners permit. If I had been in public school, I could have taken driver’s education, but being in a parochial school, it wasn’t offered. So dad and I went out on the back roads and he taught me to drive. I have very few memories of that, for which I can be grateful. My father was not the most patient man, especially when he was working graveyard.
The one thing I remember clearly is the trauma of learning to use the clutch. The clutch is a bugger to learn, when to push the pedal, when to let off of it. Do it wrong, and the car lurches down the road. Do it right, and you can do wonderous things, like stop, and change gears.
My most vivid memory of the time is my dad yelling at me, “Let out the clutch, let out the clutch”, and my not having the translation to this instruction. I’m still not sure what the hell he meant, but whatever I was doing was wrong. I did eventually figure it out, however, and learned to drive a manual transmission. You may remember I had a manual transmission on the paper route. In fact, I’ve only owned one car with an automatic in my lifetime. But I still don’t know what “Let out the clutch” means. And I don’t want to know, either.


  1. I still can´t drive a manual car 😦

  2. “Let out the clutch”? Well, i can tell you what that means… it means [the society of internet defenders of people’s wishes have reviewed and summarily deleted the explanation of this phrase since silverstar clearly stated she had no care to know the answer… the GnuKid has been suspended from the ceiling hanging by sensitive parts until such time he sees the error of his ways. thank you. signed ‘sidpw’]

  3. NurseMyra, it’s getting to be a lost art. No worries.

    SIDPW, you can let Gnukid down now, I think he’s got the idea.

  4. Boy, am I glad that gnukid stepped on that mine for me! I was all set to write a lengthy reply about what “let out the clutch” really means!

    Instead, I’ll just throw out terms like “throw-out bearing” and “synchromesh” and leave it at that. Oh, and a question for silverstar: When driving a standard, have you heard the sound of gears grinding? (You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.)

    Nowadays I am a fairly patient father. Back when my oldest two were learning to drive, though, that same could not be said. I found it was well worth the price of admittance to send both girls to the professionals for driver training – both the “theory” and the practical road instruction. Money well spent.

    One more thing: I’m so good with a standard that, once rolling, I don’t even need to use the clutch…

  5. Rob, the only gear grinding was at the beginning. After you drive two hours a day on a paper route with a manual transmission, you learn how to not make that noise. Yeah, and my grandpa used to shift from first to third without hitting second, too in his Nash Rambler. I don’t recommend it.

  6. These guys are all wrong–a clutch is the invisible group of chickens that lurk in all standard cars. They begin to gabble loudly as it is time to shift gears–apparently they think this means shat rears. If you don’t let them out (your father was prompting you, “Let out the clutch” then they fill the car with invisible shat. Beware it has a nasty rubbery smell!

  7. Thank you, Kym, I knew it had to be something like that.

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