College senior me in a borrowed MGB

In the US, most of us can trace our histories by the cars we owned, used, or learned to drive in. Not to mention the cars that provided room for early sexual  exploration. Whether you “made out” or “went all the way,” who doesn’t remember a few cars that were special? The Mustang has been a favorite, from the 1964 original when I was a young wife to the 1998 model I currently drive.

At age 16, my first driving lessons were in my dad’s  1953 white Ford convertible. My mother was my first instructor, but she was so nervous in the passenger seat she was already slamming on the imaginary brakes a half block from a stop sign in a residential area. The top was down so visibility was great, but my mom was a worrier. My dad didn’t fare much better, although he stayed calm during the lesson. “I need a beer,” he exclaimed to Mom when we got home safely. I got my learner’s permit but no car for me or permission to drive the family Ford.  I’ve used a photo of me sitting on that Ford’s hood in Tripoli for previous blogs.

Driving lessons in an old Nash Rambler were the perfect excuse for a boyfriend to get a few kisses and a little “petting,” as we called it then. After a little night driving practice, we found a likely spot for some innocent action.  A few kisses later, we were in the sights of a large flashlight brandished by a policeman. It was just a warning that where we had parked was inappropriate–the grounds of an Episcopal seminary. I was embarrassed but I doubt my boyfriend was.  When the boyfriend took me home that night, he walked me to the door in his socks. Some other local cops pulled up and, suspicious about the socks, questioned him, he told me later. When they got a close-up view of this clean-cut student and interviewed him, they realized he was quite reputable and not a potential burglar.

In college, one of my favorite memories was the white Corvette driven by the charming Army lieutenant from nearby Ft. Eustis who squired me about. He  had more money to spend than the typical underclassman and besides having a sports car was a talented singer and guitar player (folk songs, as in the recent movie “Inside Llewyn Davis”). Making out by a Virginia lake in spring, however, wasn’t a good choice. Although the sounds of bullfrogs were interesting,  the next day I was taking semester exams and could barely restrain from scratching the hell out of the 40 mosquito bites on my legs. The car pictured here is similar to the lieutenant’s car, but he had the  US version with left-hand drive.

In my senior year I was trusted with my graduate student boyfriend’s MGB. He let me drive it by myself from time to time. I think he was serious about me, but I wasn’t ready to settle down, despite the nice car.

Years later, at the end of my marriage and the beginning of single life, my most vivid memories concern an aging Oldsmobile ’98, a used Datsun that wouldn’t go in reverse, a nearly decrepit Ford LTD (retread tires and a trunk that didn’t open), a borrowed Porsche 944, a Yugo, a used BMW that was in great shape except for the broken AC,  and finally a brand new Mustang! Such is the brief version of my single life with cars.

I remember them all quite fondly, even when these cars were giving me grief. In Los Angeles, where the car is king, the best advice is to find a good and trustworthy mechanic.




  1. Thanks for the compliment. Cars play such an important role in our lives–I could write a lot more and have!

  2. Some truly wondrous work on behalf of the owner of this web site, absolutely great subject material.

  3. Wonderfully portrayed memories.. I just took all the rides in various cars with you. I have shared so many parallel experiences .. but learned to drive in that white station wagon of my folks.. Dad used to let me drive it to school, in l960 s when i did not ride w him or a neighbor down to IJC..Immaculata ,, in downtown DC. Dad would let me drive that one and he drove his blue Buick,, I spent two springs , leaping over the fence at IJC and taking a few choice friends down to see the Cherry Blossoms.. Great memories. BGR circa l961 ..

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