Follow by Email

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Driver's License - Getting and keeping it
During my early teen years, I was very interested in cars. I hated school and my major goal in life was to get a driver’s license and be able to drive. The mid-sixties was in the middle of the great muscle car era and I was hooked. That was what I dreamed about constantly and it seemed like forever until the day I finally turned 16 years of age in 1968 Milwaukee.

My brother and I were already pretty skilled in driving at that time with my mom taking us to a shopping center parking lot quite frequently late at night to let us practice driving, even sliding around on snow and ice to get the feel of how a car handles. At that time teens were not required to take a driver training course, I just learned by driving while one of our parents were in the car. And occasionally sneaking my mom’s car out by myself when they weren’t home!

Our '57 New Yorker

As soon as I could get a learner’s permit I got one and had to wait a bit before they would give me the road test. My dad was not a patient man and it was he that took me down for my test in the family car, a huge 1957 Chrysler New Yorker after my birthday. I was nervous, but confident in my ability to pass the test, that is until the instructor took me down a city street through a school zone! School was on and I neglected to see the sign, as the instructor asked me how fast I was going. I looked and said “about 30” and he informed me that the limit was 15 mph. We went back to the station where he informed me and my father that I had flunked for speeding. On the way home, my dad told me that if I flunked again, I would be waiting until I was 18 to drive.

Well, I was careful on the next test and it was one of the happiest days of my life when I was issued my driver’s license. But sometimes getting it, and then keeping it, can be somewhat difficult.

I managed to get through the first few months through the winter with no incidents. During the spring of the following year, it was a nice warm day and I decided to take my motorcycle for a ride down Lake Shore Drive. I was driving along a city street through Shorewood and as I came around a curve passed a parked patrol car with radar. The speed limit was artificially set low at 30 mph for a wide boulevard street and I was going probably about 40 or better, not paying attention. The red lights and siren came on, he pulled me over and I gave him my license. He not only wrote me a traffic citation, but he informed me that he was going to call my parents and tell them because of my age! So that was my first strike.

I had a probationary license, much stricter on violations than a regular license, I think they charged double the points for every citation. If I would have gotten another ticket within a period of time, they would have suspended my license.

Well, just a few short months later, that almost happened. I was driving along in the late afternoon and came to an intersection with a 4-way stop sign. I don’t recall the exact details but I arrived at the stop sign about the same time as a vehicle came up going across. I thought I had the right of way, was probably being too aggressive and cut the other vehicle off as I went through. That other vehicle just happened to be an unmarked patrol car with two Milwaukee police officers in it! The driver made a hard right, turned on his lights and pulled me over. I remember he was very angry, chewing me out as he asked for my license and told me he was going to write a ticket for failure to yield. Just as he had my license in hand and was about to walk back to his car, his partner opened the passenger side door, jumped out and hollered “we got a call!” The angry cop handed me my license back and said something about it being my lucky day, as he ran back to the car and they peeled out with lights and siren going.

After realizing how close I came to losing my license that day, I was pretty careful for a long time afterwards. Having to face my dad after a suspension would not have been good! I loved driving and the freedom it gave me and it would have been torture to have lost that privilege, I was probably still about a year away from my 18th birthday. Lesson learned, thankfully.


  1. Ah, the good old days. I did lose my license for a time at 16, due to speeding tickets, with an at-fault accident for good measure. But the love of driving never waned. I, however, never stole a car. LOL Only your motorcycle, the Honda 160 Scrambler. And proceeded to crash it jumping over a hill.

    1. LOL! That's probably why you bought the bike, or did we trade the CB160 for the Scrambler?