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  • Karen S. Clymer

Driver's License Test Day Memories

Excitement ran sky high! The day I had dreamed of for so long had finally arrived, my 16th birthday, Saturday, October 10, 1964. This is the day I hoped to become a licensed driver. My dear friend, Diane, was driving me to Chickasha, Ok where I would take the test.

To be sure, getting to this point required overcoming some challenges since the school in our little 'poke 'n plum' town, (ie. you poke your head in and you're plum through it), didn't offer Driver's Education. At our house 'driver's 'training' was apparently expected to come through the process of osmosis. I never recall a session where things were actually explained ahead of time. Instead, it was a nerve wracking ordeal, with my dad serving as 'trainer' seated in the front passenger seat, my mother and siblings in the back seat and me the 'student' driver, behind the wheel learning by the, 'learn as you go trial and error method'--in my case that was mostly error. However, being very determined to become a licensed driver, I persisted until, at last, I could be trusted to drive alone. The always 'reliable' grapevine had it that Orville, the town marshall, was okay with the unlicensed teens driving as long as we stayed off the main street. No one dared to verify that rumor with Orville; therefore, from the age of fourteen I was an unlicensed driver, but with my parent's permission.

Arriving at the Highway Patrol office where I would take the tests--written and road, I hurried inside. Excited and anxious I handed the officer my birth certificate and told him I was there to get my driver's license. After looking at my birth certificate, then at his watch and then back at me, in a voice laced with sarcasm he said, "Been sixteen four minutes and you already know how to drive." There most certainly wasn't much wisdom residing between my two ears, but that was one time I definitely knew to remain silent. The written test was administered which I passed with a high score. Then the final challenge -- the real driver's test, the road test.

Seated behind the wheel of the family vehicle, a 1959 baby blue Rambler station wagon, with standard shift and Mr. Whalen, the driver's examiner, seated in the passenger's side, the road test began. I became a very good listener that day, deperately trying to follow his every instruction. I managed not to hit any curb which I knew was automatic disqualification. Then, oh no, the dreaded parallel parking portion, which could have just as well been called the, ‘bug eye’ test, for the driver's license examiner, Mr. Whalen. I had practiced and practiced parallel parking, but alas, I almost hit the car in front. Through gritted teeth Mr. Whalen told me to try again, or at least that is what I thought he said. I did try again only to have him yell, "NO! GO!" I immediately apolegized explaining I had thought he said to try again. Was that smudges I saw on his glasses? Had I actually scared him that badly that his eye balls had bugged out that far? Surely not.

Back at the police station parking lot, Mr. Whalen began going over every section of the test; where I had done okay and yes, where I had not. He told me I had straddled the lanes. Lanes? what lanes? I thought those were just cracks in the road. In our town, we didn't have marked lanes. Parallel parking section? Failed it. Fearing the worst due to the parallel parking debacle, I waited with bated breath to hear the results of the test. When he had finished calculating the results he told me that I must make a score of seventy to pass and I had made a score of seventy two. I PASSED! That is all that mattered. The margin made absolutely no difference to me. Seventy two was just as good as ninety two! I was now a bonafide licensed driver!

Now sit back and think about your own fun memories of your own driver's license test day.

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