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More Stories - The Way We Were

Teaching Kids About Cars

When our kids were young, we often bought a car for a song with an engine or transmission problem, or one that had been in an accident.  Since both hubby and I are pretty fair mechanics, we would rent any required equipment and have a lesson in car innards as the kids helped us restore it.  Then we transferred six seat belts from Western Auto for years from car to car, and they learned to use them - or else!  As adults they now religiously follow our law with their own passengers: if anybody doesn't have a seat belt on, the car doesn't move.

When son Mark turned sixteen, we got him a 14-year old Ford Falcon.  Later when it was beyond redemption, my son and youngest daughter shared a13-year old Dodge, and they both knew what to listen and look for and how to talk to mechanics.  Their cost for insurance and upkeep was having to work with us in our business (we paid them, of course) and buying their own gas. When daughter Cathy turned 17, she had enough saved to buy her first car, a pretty little Dodge slant-6 coupe about 7 years old, which lasted for ages until a Navy transfer required her to buy a more reliable newer one. 

We impressed on them the importance of safe driving, and it must have taken.  In the next ten years they each had only one ticket.  Cathy ran a red light when a passenger was dangerously distracting her.  She almost hit a police car.  She pulled over immediately and waited for the cop to turn around, come back and give her a ticket.  Mark got an illegal turn citation while completely lost on country roads outside a strange town, in the dead of night with no street lighting; he had the bad luck to have a county policeman behind him.

On the other hand, my oldest daughter Elizabeth, with a promising career established at 23, plus her own part-time business on the side, was run down and killed by a 16-year old on his birthday.  His wealthy father had taken him to get his license and bought him a brand new luxury Olds as a birthday present.  The young fellow took it to McDonalds to show it off to the girls there, and peeled out of the parking lot while looking over his shoulder.

What brings this to mind?  A piece in the Miami Herald "Saturday Speakup" where readers get things off their chest or express their concerns and opinions.  I was impressed!  I emailed the author, Mark Franek, then Dean of Students and English teacher at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, Pa., and he replied:

"Thanks for your kind words on my Father's Day piece.  It's always heartwarming to know when your words strike a chord (just about any chord!).  ..Thanks!

See The Value of Used Cars by Mark Franek.

The Sneaky Kitchen
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