The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'The Antiquated' started by Ryan, Jun 17, 2019.
Park St, Holyoke
It has been over 60 years since we had to sit in a portable trailer specifically built for driver’s education. We all had Study Hall as part of our 7 periods of high school classes. So, our group of 15.5 years old teenagers used Study Hall access times to go to the trailer to sit in those fake “Bumper” cars from the nearby Pike Amusement Center. When we first saw them, that was the reaction.
As good as we were driving those Pike Amusement Center Bumper Cars, these were supposed to be like driving a real car. (which most of us already had plenty of hours behind the wheel of any car we could get out hands on, for practice.)
But, for the hour of sitting in those simulator seats/dash/pedal “thingys,” it was fun, as our friends were also in the darkened room at one time or another. Once the time allowed in the trailer was over for several weeks, the students rotated back to Study Hall, until our time behind the wheel of the 4 door Ford Sedan popped up on the schedule.
These 1957 Ford sedans were the mainstay of the driver training program for us, back in Long Beach, CA from 1958-61. When we were finished with the classroom movie screen class, then we were assigned to these cars during Study Hall period. Most of the teachers were really bad drivers and did not know a lick about cars or engines.
Most of the cars were donated by the local Ford dealer, Mel Burns Ford. Well at least the weeks sitting in the passenger seat, rotating to the rear seats and in the driver’s position was in a plain jane 4 door Ford Sedan. There was a portable sign on top and on the doors, signifying LBUSD drivers training to warn all drivers of the novice drivers inside the 4 person car, including the teacher.
Even during the day, the traffic around the high school was rather busy. The two main roads running North/South were the top two busy streets from the ocean to the far reaches of inland cities. (Atlantic Avenue and Long Beach Blvd.) But, our teacher kept us off of those two streets until the last week of training for each of us. As we got to the last days of our “behind the wheel” drive time, the teacher allowed us to go to Bixby Knolls on Atlantic Ave. Of course, we cruised by the local drive-in restaurant parking lots during our road trips. For the next several years, we all cruised the local drive-in restaurant parking lots. Ha!
All high schools in So Cal no longer have driver education classes as part of the curriculum. The Driver’s Education “behind the wheel” programs advanced over the years. But, they too, got axed from public school curriculum. Now, there are licensed companies that have taken over that program.
For a while, some of the more modern techniques were real cars on the school parking lot lane driving programs. The real little cars were lined up in a secured fenced in area away from the main buildings. But access to them was through the curriculum, as part of the day’s activities. So, from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, those little cars were following the instructor’s loudspeaker bull horn and driving around marked lanes on the school parking lot. So, there was no student parking during this portion of the early school diagrams at the time. But, in time those little cars also bit the dust… YRMV
Over the years of driving everywhere and in every type of condition in hot rods, family cars, sporty cars and a slew of station wagons, one thing was evident. Do not get close to the car in front when stopped for a stop sign or red light. Especially on a slight slope or steep road grade.
A parking brake or emergency brake that is functional is a necessity. (Even with an automatic transmission.) It is the roll factor, however slight if your hot rod, with/without bumpers, is on a slight grade. Whether in a parking spot, on the roadway or parking on the side of the street when starting out, it will roll however slightly, backwards.
The emergency brake handle usage is one of the last things supposedly taught to drivers in a Driver Education class to learn the hill/slope/grade stop and start procedures. It is a life/car saver. If it hasn't been taught, it should be. The handling of your hot rod or daily driver depends on how you adapt to emergency situations. Even in an automatic transmission vehicle.
When my wife wanted to learn to drive a stick shift transmission car, we practiced in an industrial area for all sorts of road conditions and found many small sloping turns and stop sign corners. The first time she listened to my instructions for a hill start on a normal area, she learned the steps. When we hit the road, it was a whole new ball game. Some traffic makes a tense situation. But, to go through the steps on a slope, a stick shift, and a stop sign with a car or two making the same turn is a little hectic.
A surprise awaited me. My wife listened intensely and learned the steps to even out the tight moment in this slope, hill grade start with a stick shift car. She did stop completely. Shifted to first and was ready to go, after making a complete stop. The brake lever, the foot on the gas and clutch were all ready to move to the next step, continue forward and make the turn while sitting on a slope making the car wanting to go backward.
What was her final test and reward for doing so well on our practice runs? A weeklong driving road trip vacation, up/down the Big Sur coastline to San Francisco and the upper regions past the big city on the bay. The stick shifting got a series of final road test situations and she handled them well.
Even when she was on one of those tall steep hills in downtown San Francisco and a row of anxious cars were lined up behind her. Following the instructions, she never rolled back downhill on every start. And, every start was smooth as if she were driving a stick shift car on a flat road, anywhere… a job well done!!! Yes!
San Francisco waterfront Ferry Building
Separate names with a comma.