By Bill Williams
I started driving when I was 12 years old, but don’t tell the Highway Patrol. Those guys hang around for a long time.
We had one cow and no pasture but plenty of grass. My job was to move Beauty on a tether enough times during the day to keep her in enough grass to produce milk for an 11-mouth family. It was not a big job but it helped fill out my personality.
Mom was an understanding mom. She had five other boys and two girls who preceded me. She let them learn to drive the same way I did. I would say to Mom on a slow, warm summer day: “Mom, I’ll go move the cow if you let me drive in the barnyard a little.”
Well, why not? Big barnyard. Nothing to run into or over. Pop wouldn’t approve, probably, but he knew what had been going on with all those other kids. So, what the heck!
As a result, I got to learn to drive, Beauty got to keep her four stomachs full and the Williams family had enough milk and butter to cause us to dance a jig.
I wouldn’t overdo practice driving. I’d do maybe 15 or 20 minutes. Seldom more than that.
I’d back the ’38 Chevy from the garage and circle around a couple of times. I would ease by the grindstone in the side yard, drift on down toward the Bolicks’ yard closest to us, be extra careful on the way back so as to avoid completely any leaving of paint on two big boulders, which had been there long before I began to drive.
I would ease back alongside the grape vine and park close enough to the barn so I could put a sack on the hood and climb from there through the hole in the barn’s side and land happily on stored hay, stored there especially for little boys yearning for a mid-day nap.
But…I started out to tell you about my driving experiences. I have had a few.
For four years, I was a barn-yard driver. Never had a puncture, never ran over a cat or a calf, never ran a chicken bone through a tire. It was all fun.
On the day I was 16, my Mom accompanied me (well, I was with her) to the driver’s-license place in Salisbury. Back then, getting a driver’s license was sort of lax. I actually drove the car to the license place. She rode shotgun. But I came home with the license.
I have been driving now for 75 years. Until a couple of months ago. My slate is clean. But, I will not brag. I am super stitchis.
On that day, a nice doctor looked at some recent medical evidence (my having toppled down a flight of stairs) and told me what I didn’t want to hear: “You are going to have to let someone else drive your car for a while. You have some problems that we have to learn more about. It’s serious.”
That’ll bring you down to earth.