This is a special memory from my own childhood.
My mother really was the worst driver ever. I remember when we moved to California and she had to take the driving test. She proudly told the story of how she almost failed because she didn’t know the three hand signals. She explained to the tester that in Michigan no one stuck their hand out the window to signal – it might freeze! She talked him into passing her. He really shouldn’t have!
I don’t remember my mother ever buying a new car. She always bought very well maintained used cars and usually they were Oldsmobiles. Those cars would quickly go from being in great shape to have dents everywhere! We hadn’t been in California for more than a week when the CHP pulled up behind her with his lights going. Since she was in the fast lane, she just pulled to the left and stopped! The policeman was not amused. He had to do a traffic break so that she could pull back into traffic and merge all the way to the right. She did not talk him out of that speeding ticket! Of course, there was also the time that the motorcyclist ran into her. She said she wasn’t to blame. We used to joke that mothers should get their children off the sidewalks when my mom was driving.
I remember one time when I was about 8 that we drove for miles with a police car behind us flashing his lights. She was sure it was my Uncle and that he was just clowning around. It wasn’t my uncle and she did get a ticket!
But what I remember most were the number of times my mother hit the fire hydrant at the end of our driveway and broke it off! Our house sat at the top of a hill with a horseshoe shaped driveway that went all the way around it. The fire hydrant sat to the left of the driveway just a few feet from the street. While that hydrant was painted bright red, my mother somehow managed not to see it more than once. There was the time she was turning into the driveway and managed to miss the driveway completely and hit the hydrant! Yes, there was a geyser! I remember sitting in the car and wondering if it would ever stop. She hit that hydrant at least twice when our driveway was coated with ice. She couldn’t get enough traction to make it up the drive and the car slid backwards and hit it. Now we had frozen geysers and that made the driveway even worse!
I see pictures from the fifties and sixties of children playing in the water of the fire hydrants. I do remember times when they would open the hydrants in the summer but what I really remember most is the times my mother opened it with the car! I have to wonder if any of the people who have lived in the house since have had so much trouble navigating the driveway.
This picture is courtesy of my sister Sandy who went and took it for me. Of all the photos I have of the front of that house I couldn’t find any that included the fire hydrant. Thank you baby sister!