Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29

DRIVING

Written by
Published on January 2018

It was at Barney’s River that I really learned to drive a car properly. I was then 16 years old.  I say properly as when Bessie and I were staying with Uncle George and Aunt Allie in Uniacke and when he went out to his sawmill and lumber camp, on the way home I would drive the car until we came to the main highway. I really would only steer it as I could not reach the pedals so I sat on his knees and took the steering wheel in my hands. I was only 13 at the time.   

I would steer it straight by looking at the arrow on the bonnet and squinty all over the road and time and time again he would say, “Not the arrow.  Just concentrate on where the road is and you will keep straight.” There was no danger on this road as it belonged to Uncle George and subsequently only rarely used by him and his staff.   

The car then was a Ford Pilot and had a gear shift under the steering wheel, the first one that I had seen and was a bit of puzzle to me at 13.   

Anyway, back to Linus Cameron who thought that it was about time that I learned to drive properly after I related to Linus my exploits at Uniacke where I played around in an old Ford truck of the Cole’s, which did not go anywhere as it had not any gasoline in the tank, and so never went anywhere.   

Linus’s car was quite roadworthy - a Ford Saloon. Now the idea was not to go on the Highway as I would have the Mounties after me if they spotted me as I had not any license to be there.   Following Linus’s instructions -  he showed me how to start it up and move off, which I did at first go.   It was similar to the gait of a Kangeroo, leap, leap, jump, jump.   I did not do very well really.   Linus sitting beside me was not impressed and expressed himself clearly.
However, after a few chosen words by him, I had another go and I soon settled down in second gear which was quite fast for me. As we were on the farm belonging to Linus and Katherine we buzzed around this way and that going up another gear and then a try at reversing.  
After about an hour Linus called a halt to my efforts and suggested that we try another day.   

After about an hour Linus called a halt to my efforts and suggested that we try another day.   
“Let’s have a look at what makes us go”, so I followed him to the front of the car and he gave me a quick ‘teachin’ on what made the car go.  Lifting the bonnet he showed me the starter, the battery, fan to keep it cool and where to fill it up which I knew due to me doing so at Uniacke many times. Inflating the tyres was facilitated by the use of an ancient hand pump.   

Next day, as I was finishing my chores, Linus called me to come around the back of the barn.  My word, he had been busy!   He displayed his efforts to me and I could hardly believe my eyes.  He had laid out a sort of miniature road made up of poles laid on the grass and an old oil drum as a junction in the middle of the road.    

“Now,”  he said to me “ I am the traffic cop so use your skill as if you were on the Highway.  Ready when you are.” So off I went with a jerk, jerk.   “Wrong gear,” he shouted. I stopped and tried again and went backwards.   “NO! NO!”  he shouted, and all but jumped in the air. “Stop!!” Then he got in the car and went through the correct routine and wrote on a piece of paper the symbols for the correct gear and reverse. I was beginning to get just a little despondent but he encouraged me more and so as the days went by and my tuition continued, until after about a week or so I felt I was improving and even Linus was beginning to have more confidence in me.   

I told Donald that I was under Linus’s tuition and to my surprise he admitted to driving the family car and the pick-up truck around their farm.  

Uniacke Newsletter
2018-01-13
https://www.uniackenewsletter.ca/stories/driving