Saturday, March 28, 2009

Drivers Ed. with Mr. Tone

OK, everyone, think back to your Drivers Ed. class you had in High school. You all probably have stories to tell.My story will not be so unique among my class mates because when we get together for class reunions, we all compare notes on our experiences with Mr. Tone.
Mr Tone was an icon in the city of Rice Lake. He was the varsity basketball coach who lead his team to the state basketball championship against Milwaukee Lincoln, only to lose in double overtime. This was before divisions or classes in the state tournament. By the way, we were screwed but that is another story. He was a very successful coach who also was a p.e. instructor. Riding with him in the drivers ed. car was another story.
I will always remember the first time behind the wheel with him in the drivers seat and two classmates in the back. He said, "All Right Osborn, put it in first and let's go". My vocal response came from a blood lacking amount of testosterone, cracking with the words, "where's first, sir?" "Pull the shift lever toward you and down", was his answer. As you all know, there is a little finesse' required here. One must slowly let out the clutch as you give it some gas. If this is not done properly, the car bucks terribly down the road. At the same time, Mr Tone is yelling "Yee Hah! Gidee- up, horse". This makes the clutch leg twitch even greater, causing even greater bucking. It is a terrible, terrible thing. Classmates in the back dare not giggle for they know they are next.
While I'm on the whole clutch thing, let's visit about the hill park. You all have done it. You park on a hill, turn the wheels so that you go into the curb instead of out into the road and put the emergency brake on. Simple, right? Add to this the equation of the clutch. Mr. Tone would set the stage by informing us that we are 1 inch from a 1000 foot cliff behind us. If we go backwards 2 inches, we will roll off the cliff. One must put the car in gear, slowly let out the clutch while giving the car gas and when the friction point is reached, release the emergency brake. Oh, your turn signal must be on too but that is the least of your worries. Invariably, the car rolls back at least 2" and we hear a scream from the passenger seat, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" starting out loudly and then diminishing in volume, simulating the fall over the cliff. Again, those in the back seat, there is not a sound; they know they could be next.
The intersection: what are we supposed to do? You look both ways as your cross through the intersection. In case you do not make that observation, Mr. Tone, with his arm out the open window, would slap the side the car causing one to suddenly constrict one's urinary sphincter so that one would not to soil oneself. I mean, really, a guy could have a heart attack at 16 years of age.
Sometimes, he would slam on the brake/clutch controls he had at his disposal and you had all you could do not bang your head on the steering wheel. We had seat belts by no shoulder harness as yet. People would see us come out of the driver's seat and wonder, "what is wrong with that boy, he is as pale as a ghost?" We had good reason to appear that way.
Casual conversation between riders? Talk about the game the other night? How were classes going? Would we live until tomorrow? None of those topics were covered in Mr. Tone's drivers ed. car. At least we have something to talk about at every class reunion from now until we all have dementia.

PS the car above is a blue 1959 Chev Belaire, just like the car my folks bought and I drove when I was 16. It was an automatic, of course. It was the only new car they bought when we were growing up.
PSS I got grounded the day I got my license. I asked my folks if I could drive around the block with Jeff. I took advantage if this new found freedom and was gone for 20 minutes, driving all around town. Last time I drove for two weeks. Yikes!


  1. It was probably good that he made you kids take driving so seriously. You were so frightened you had no choice but to become highly skilled at shifting, crossing intersections, etc. I have heard some of these stories before but they are good ones. Mr Rather (sp?) was not nearly so dramatic. Maybe that is why I failed the first time I took my test. :)

  2. very nice, dad! i'm glad i had it a little easier! david

  3. Come on dad....I need another blog to read!!! Please don't be discourged that we all don't have time to post a comment at every entry. That doesn't mean we don't read it! I check you blog everyday in hopes of a new entry!! ~A