When I was five years old my father had a 1959 Rambler with a 3-speed shift on the column. I used to sit beside him and as we were driving along he would tell me what gear to shift into. Years before seat belts or car seats, I probably couldn't even see over the dashboard. He would say second and I would shift over and up, third, I'd pull the shift down, first when we came to a stop, back over and down. It was very cool and I thought I was all that and more. We didn't do this when my mother was in the car for obvious reasons.
So began my love of driving and most things with wheels, two and four. When I was 14 Dad brought home a motorcycle, I think he paid $100 for it. No name on it, the tank had either been replaced or painted, but we thought it was a Yamaha and at least 100cc. It wasn't very big but held two people. It ran fine for years, and I had a blast with it. There began my love of riding bikes, or driving actually, I've never been much of a passenger. I've only been on the back of three bikes; my father, my high school boyfriend and Paul. Paul has always had bikes and used to race motorcross and trials in his younger days. He now rides a 1500cc Kawasaki Vulcan.
I spent my summers in rural Connecticut at my grandparents' campground, and I rode that little bike all over the trails and occasionally ventured onto the country roads. Cops were a rarity in that area and I never got caught. All the other kids were so jealous.
In those days there were few restrictions on new drivers. You needed 30 hours of classroom instruction, could get your learner's permit at 16 (I was there on my birthday) and take your driver's test twelve days later. I think I waited fourteen days. Not long after getting my license, I went with my father to the DMV and took the road test for my motorcycle license so at 16 I could legally drive just about anything.
About that same time Dad bought a new bike, a Yamaha DT3 which was a 250cc street-legal dirt bike and I soon took that over. I road trails, old railroad beds, whatever we could find. It was a great time.
At the campground I also drove the dump truck that we picked up trash with. Because it required constant stops and starts when I got out after a run, my left leg would be shaking so from the stiff clutch I could barely stand, but I was very cool. I drove the garbage truck!
My grandfather also had a backhoe/payloader at camp which we called TONKA after I painted the name on it. I drove that. The first time my father put me on Tonka he was riding with me. After a few turns in a field as I was heading for some trees I asked "Should I go through there, Dad? Dad? Dad!?" No answer, I whipped my head around to see him standing on the other side of the field with my mother. He had jumped off at some point and I had been driving around alone. He said my smile was about a foot wide. Good times back then.
In my 20's I had a street bike for a short time. I didn't care much for riding in the street and got rid of it. Since those days I have mostly stuck to four wheels. We've had two Corvettes. The '69 was a standard transmission which I drove occasionally. The '90 that we have now is an automatic and not nearly as much fun to drive.
And although I love cars and enjoy looking at them, I drive a fairly normal sedan. I have clients with me often so I don't have much choice. My car does have lots of bells and whistles that I enjoy.
Lately I have been seriously thinking about buying a weekend driver, maybe a two-seater. I haven't decided what. I met a college friend for dinner recently, and she drove in with a BMW Z4 which was pretty sharp.
We are definitely going to need an addition to the garage.