Pioneer Potluck: About the first driving lessons

On a farm in a pasture in

Northern Colorado

About 1947

We were herding cows from the pasture to the corral to feed them, with Dad’s old International Pickup. He stopped the truck, got out and told me to scoot over to the drivers seat.

He got in the passenger side, told me to step on “that left and right pedal” “push that gear shift up and slowly lift your feet and it will go. To push the pedals, I was so short, I almost disappeared underneath the steering wheel, while hanging onto the bottom of it. I did not want to let go of the wheel, so he shifted it in to “low-go” he called it. I lifted my feet too fast, the truck lurched and killed the engine. So he just put the gear shift back in “no-go” told me again to push both pedals and twisted the key and the truck started again. We went through that routine about 14 times, until I got the hang of gently lifting my foot off the clutch pedal. He was SO patient. We slowly putt-putted up the lane towards the barn at a snails pace – yes…. he was so patient!!

We reached the barbed wire fence-gate, he told me to “push with your left foot for the clutch and push down with right for the brake. Gently push down” That caused me to disappear under the steering wheel again.

We stopped at a slow jerk. He got out to open the gate – I was so scared I thought when I get out this truck I am never want to do this again. He motioned me to let up on the brake and clutch and I putted through the open gate. He caught up with me as I was slowly making a wide arch into the yard. He jerked open the drivers door and told me to STOP! That I did – just the foot on the brake and I killed the engine. We were nose to nose with the chicken house! That was my first driving lesson. I was 10 years old.

My brother had the same teacher and the same conditions repeating itself. Not long after he learned the first details, Dads bull got out. It always infuriated Dad! Dad herded the bull into the long lane to the pasture. Sonny(Johnny) and I were in the pickup with him. He stopped the pickup, told Sonny “YOU drive!” Dad grabbed a pitchfork from the back and he hopped on the fender and hung on by grabbing the hood ornament. He had the pitch fork in his left hand. He was hollering “Go, go” at my brother – “faster, faster!” The poor old bull was trotting as fast as he could in front of the truck. Dad was reaching out with the pitch fork to “give that old bull a lesson” by trying to jab him in the bee-hind. As Dad hollered faster, he suddenly fell off the fender and disappeared. I screamed at Sonny – you runned over Daddy!” Stop! You runned over Daddy!” This caused both of us to start screaming at the top of our lungs, while Sonny was trying to get the truck stopped, of course he disappeared under the steering wheel as both feet mashed the pedals to the floor.

Neither one of us knew how to turn the engine off, we just sat there and screamed while Sonny strained to keep both feet on the pedals. The drivers door flew open and Dad screamed “Stop screaming!” He reached in and turned the key off. We both looked at him wide eyed and white faced! “We thought you got runned over,” sobbing in-between words. Dad said in a louder than usual voice – “I am OK – stop screaming! The hood ornament broke off and I fell off the fender.” We were so relieved but still softly crying, as he told Sonny to scoot over. Dad started the truck and drove on down the lane where the bull, by then, was obliviously eating grass.

I laugh out loud every time I repeat this or as I am writing this right now. I could never in a million years tell it like Dad told on himself about never getting to jab the bull in the bee-hind, the hood ornament breaking off and him tumbling to the ground. Then he heard the screams coming from us, not comprehending why we were screaming until he opened the door and we told him we thought we “runned” over him.

Dad would tell this over and over, laughing in between sentences, just as hard or harder each time he told of our terror and the day we almost run over him! Sonny was 10 and I was 11 years old. PS the words bee-hind, runned or run-did were everyday words for us. Or my little brother Jimmy’s words “I hadda-do it.” Our little friend Haley when she was younger, “You can’t make me have to do it!”

Makes me smile!

The Grannie Annie series is written by a 47 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski.Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.

Grannie Annie can be reached at anninalaska@gci. net


Cookbooks make great gifts!

The “Grannie Annie” Cook Book Series includes: “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ on the Woodstove”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters”; and “Grannie Annie’s Eat Dessert First.” They are available at M & M Market in Nikiski.

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