July 11, 2009

The car bug hit my father when he was late into his sixties. After purchasing an old ford he set out to find someone, anyone, willing to teach him how to drive the newly purchased car. The family, sure he would not pass the government drivers test, was not prepared for the day he arrived home flashing the cherished driver’s licence in his hand.
The car processed one long seat that stretched from the driver’s door to the passenger’s door. It was just large enough to comfortably accommodate the driver and one passenger. On occasion a child could squeeze in although the long gear shift protruding from the floor boards left little room.
Mom and I were just leaving the house on our way to church for confession the day dad arrived home with his drivers permit in hand. Unfortunately for us he insisted he drive us up the long steep hill from Barrington Street to Saint Patrick’s church on Brunswick Street. Mom not wanting to insult her husband but terrified of the prospect of driving with him tried in vain to find an excuse. Ultimately we found ourselves squeezed into the small car together. Dad unsuccessfully practised changing gears.
“If the little one wasn’t there I’d have more room.”
He said, pulling on the long handle. Mom immediately seized the opportunity.
“Oh, well, we’ll walk.”
She said as she immediately climbed out of the car. Hurrying away from the car, she whispered
“Don’t look back! Keep going!”
We couldn’t contain our laughter after the sixth time dad passed tooting the horn speeding up the hill. It took a long time to go the short distance to church that day. Much time was spent recovering from bouts of laughter
A MacPhee from Inverness visited the family one day. Unfortunately for him dad insisted on driving him home. So traumatized was he by the experience that after that he never visited without first calling ahead to inquire when dad would be returning.
“There’s no way in hell” He said “I’m getting in that car with him again. He doesn’t watch the street. He’s so busy blowing the horn and waving to everyone, he doesn’t see the traffic or the traffic signs.”
Once a year our Cape Breton friends gathered together for a picnic out in the country. The summer dad bought his car Ambrose decided he would drive it to the picnic area. Without doubt the best seat in the car was the rumble seat. Ronald Beaton and his son A. J. were to ride in it with me. Ronald agreed on one condition; Ambrose would not allow dad to drive.
The day was beautiful. Ronald, A.J. and I enjoyed the airy drive as our car followed the contingent of cars down the highway. Ronald, suddenly alert, sat very straight in the low cocoon shape seat. Ambrose broke from the line and pulled to the side. Getting out of the car he changed seats with dad. With a great smile on his handsome face, he looked over his shoulder at Ronald. Ronald, silent and thoughtful, slid down in the rumble seat. After a considerable time he reached down and pulled out his violin. To further add amusement to the otherwise scary situation he removed his false teeth and pulled his fedora low over his ears. The strains of the violin captured motorists attention leaving them howling with laughter. Undeniably it was a day to remember.
Inevitable dad realizing he wasn’t meant to drive sold the car. Much to the dismay of our family and our neighbours the car remained parked in our driveway. The new owner was seen eating and sleeping in the car. After several months and many requests dad was forced to order it removed. Apparently the man, unable to drive, had purchased the car to live in.


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