I can remember sitting on my fathers lap and steering our car as a very young child when I was five or six years old. That would become my first car, but that is another story.
As the years passed, I created many opportunities to get behind the wheel of any vehicle.
My father always had a truck for his plastering business with a stick shift. I watched him closely as he drove our well used green truck and us to one job after another.
When we moved to the Oceanside area our newly leased restaurant had a very large dirt parking lot and another very large area behind it. The large, low, white building built in the California Mission Style with arches and a long front patio, sat on a flat plain at the foot of a small mountain range. Orchards grew up on the top of the mountains or hills.
In the long summers the grasses on the hill sides turned blonde and stiff. Rabbits and deer watched over us as we played below them.
We sat down below in a small square valley along with three other homes, each on a small and slightly lower bluff.
I would beg my father to let me wash his truck. That was my excuse to drive it. There were few kids nearby and I was slowly becoming a “car nut.”
My room’s walls in the home we had just sold in Huntington Beach were covered in photos of cars cut from Hot Rod Magazine. I was in the middle Eighth grade when we moved. I had lost all my long time friends and was off on my father’s newest adventure.
I found some paint at one point and painted the wooden bed of the truck black and touched up all of the bolt heads that held the wood in place with silver paint. It was a masterpiece.
I would sit in the truck and shift it with out the motor running until I had the pattern memorized or burnt into my brain.
One day he finally let me move the truck into the area where I usually washed it. He watched me carefully as I slowly backed up and parked it. He was apparently satisfied that I knew how to shift and drive the truck.
He left me there to wash his truck. I scrubbed the old thing with all my strength and made it look almost new again. I even painted the tries with tire black. This was long before Armor All.
I then moved it into the front parking lot after driving around the large open area in the rear of our property.
A long dead bulldozer sat in the middle of the property surrounded by tall dead grass and tumble weeds as I deftly ran rings around it until I thought that I had pressed my luck as far as I could.
I had raised clouds of dust as I drove in large circles which guaranteed that I would have to wash the truck again, soon.
At the same time I hoped that I hadn’t made the neighbors upset at the fine dust wafting across their yards and through the open windows around me.
Thankfully, no one ever complained.
Now that I look back I understand that my parents were far too busy to watch over me, an over active and adventurous child. I had worn them down long ago but just hadn’t figured it out yet.
The many adventures that I survived now remind me of just how active I was as a child and how they were just busy trying to make a living.