Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nonna Learns How To Drive........

The year was 1959 and life was going good for Henry and Nonna. They were getting settled into their new home, had welcomed John into the world and Henry was just starting his new job with H.J. Heinz Co. With this job, came many benefits, including a company provided car. Henry owned a 1957 two-toned Chevy that was just sitting in the garage. He tried to talk Nonna into learning how to drive, to no avail, so after a couple of years, he sold his car.
Nonna was perfectly happy calling on neighbors when she needed to go somewhere, which in those times was the norm. People knew their neighbors very well and visiting over coffee and talking was a part of everyday life. Nonna saw no need to drive, after all, milk was delivered fresh to your front door and the Fuller Brush man took care of any cleaning supplies that you needed, the kids walked to school and home each day, so everything was working just fine for her.
As time moved on and the kids got older, Nonna began needing to go more places and she came to the conclusion that it was time to learn how to drive. When Henry came home after a week of traveling, she told him that she needed a car, so dad went out and bought her a 1946 four-door Ford for the grand sum of $100. That's right, a hundred bucks!
The next Sunday, after church, we all loaded up in that old car and headed to the Baton Rouge Airport so Nonna could learn how to drive. I remember this day as if it were yesterday. Back then, most airports were closed on Sunday's, so you had a lot of room in the parking lots, and this made for a great place to teach someone how to drive. There we were, Henry in the passenger seat, teaching Nonna how to use the clutch, and the three kids in the backseat, being tossed around, but consistently hanging out of the windows. What a sight this must have been. After about three hours of lessons, Henry was done teaching and said " Ok Honey, now drive us home" to which mom replied " but I can't drive yet" and Henry said " oh yes you can!", and off we went!
For the next couple of years we went everywhere in that old car. The neatest thing to us, as kids, was that the back floorboard was rusted out and we could lift the rubber mat up and watch the road go by as mom drove. This was cool to a kid!!
Nonna loved the independence that having a car gave her and that was a good thing. I think most of us can relate to this feeling and although we take this ability for granted, it gives us freedom.
Love John

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