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Front Page » January 24, 2012 » Opinion » Staff column
Published 822 days ago

Staff column


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Snow as you know, is not good for the go

Now I know that not everyone likes snow, but you have to admit this glaze of white we have over everything after Saturday's snow storm sure looks a lot better than the brown we have been seeing for months now.

Saturday morning my wife and I were leaving home to run a few errands when it started to come down. We did a some things in town and then sat down to a breakfast and watched the traffic on Main Street slide by down the hill at 800 East while we were drinking our coffee. It was amazing to see people driving just as fast as they always do until they did a little slip slide and then suddenly it was slow as you go.

Driving home after breakfast was quite a trick. I had forgotten about how slick roads can be. All my vehicles except one are four wheel or all wheel drive and I was in the only one that was just rear wheel drive.

I remember when that's all I drove. I never had a front wheel or four wheel drive vehicle until I was 32 years old. I remember putting bags of salt in the trunk of my car and five gallon buckets (with lids) in the backs of my pick up trucks just to be sure I had enough traction to get started at a light on a small hill in the days before I owned four wheel drive.

I do remember the first time I ever drove in the snow on a public road. Of all places it was the first day of drivers ed driving training. My birthday being in January brought me a driving for my permit training date on Jan. 16, 1968 and it had snowed the day before. Back in those ancient times, school districts often inherited cars from the city fleet that were no longer being used and put them into service as drivers education cars. In my case it was an old Murray Police Department cruiser; a 1963 Dodge Polara with an automatic and a 426 Hemi in it. A police intercepter version at that.

Power wise it was a car that every teenager at the time would have adored. It was an ugly car as far as I was concerned, but it did have many horses under that hood.

We drove with three sophomores and the instructor, Mr. Geddes, who was also my cross country track coach. That first time out was on a Saturday morning, and it had snowed all day on Friday. The streets had been fairly cleared, but as we got in the car all I could think of was that I was with two female students who had never touched a car before and the streets were coated with ice. All the horror stories about drivers education cars getting creamed at some railroad crossing because a student didn't know the difference between the brake and the accelerator came to mind.

Mr. Geddes picked one of the girls to drive first. She came out of the gates of Murray High onto 5300 South like she was at Daytona. We screeched around the first corner and flew across State Street. I am not even sure we touched the ground as we crossed under the traffic light at the intersection we were going so fast.

All the time Mr. Geddes was saying very calmly "Now slow down, you don't need to go that fast." Finally he got her under control and the rest of the drive she actually did very well. Then he turned to the other girl.

She was so timid driving that he could get her to take off at a light until he invoked his controls on the passenger side of the car. After about five miles on surface streets and a stint on the freeway for a few minutes she started to get the hang of it.

By this time traffic had begun to increase. We were driving along somewhere in the Cottonwood area when he told her to pull over.

"It's your turn Shaw," he said to me leaning over the seat and grinning.

I put on the new dorky glasses my mother had just bought me a couple of days before (my old ones had been lost because I never wore them; I just sat close to the board in class to see) and put the car in drive.

"Buckle up your seat belt," Geddes said to me with a look. Hell we never used seat belts in the truck I drove on the farm and our tractors didn't have any. The ones in my dad's car, I had never driven, but had ridden in many times had them, but they had slipped under the seat from lack of use. I buckled up.

I put it in drive again and stepped on it. We were on the side of the road and the car slid sideways into a ditch not only because of the snow, but because I wanted to go and that hemi was going to get me there.

Mr. Geddes got out and looked at the wheel in the ditch. The car high centered on the bank. He just shook his head. Just then a Salt Lake County Sheriff's car pulled up behind us. He went back to confer with the deputy. The two girls in the back seat were laughing at what I had done.

The officer came up to my window. I rolled it down.

"Why don't you get out and I will try and get it out of there," he said.

I got out, dorky glasses and all, and stood in back of the car with Mr. Geddes as the deputy tried to get it out of the ditch. He rocked it and rocked it. At one point that 426 shot gravel and ice on both of us and it also splattered all over his cruiser. Finally he got out and admitted it was in too deep. He called for a tow truck.

Mr. Geddes looked at me.

"Good thing you're a better runner than you are a driver," he said referring to my cross country experience the fall before. He did smile though. Personally I would has slapped me.

The tow truck came and pulled us out onto dry pavement while the deputy blocked traffic. Mr. Geddes got in the driver's seat and told me to sit in the front passenger side and "to not touch any of the controls."

We drove back to the school parking lot. The girls chattered all the way and I felt really stupid. Getting stuck cost us a lot of time and both the girls parents were waiting to pick them up when we got back. I was on foot.

The next week I got to drive on dry roads. This time Mr. Geddes took the Dodge Dart that had been handed down to drivers ed from the water department. It was a six cylinder car that took from dawn to dusk to get to 60 miles per hour.

And he used that car for the rest of my driving training.

Luckily, there was never any more snow at or around the days I drove with him. I ended up with an A in the class despite me putting us in a ditch.

But he did remind me right up through graduation day about the time we got stuck. It became a joke between the two of us.

As for the girls, they never told anyone about it as far as I know. I can't even remember who they were now, but thanks to them where ever they are.

Of course now the whole world knows. It's okay though. When you get to my age, almost everything you did as a kid is funny.

And less embarrassing than some of the things you do now.

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