Learning to Drive


I think we can all remember the first time that we got behind the wheel. That feeling of actually growing up and that power (or no power) when you pushed down that accelerator for the first time. I do.

On the farm, driving was essential and you had to be a team player, helping on the farm, earn your bread. It was a 1960 Chevrolet Suburban that we called “the Bomb.”

I was in junior high and we were moving calves from the calf barn over the road – we called it going over seas – to another lot. Dad had backed up to the door, and we loaded them in the back of the Suburban. We had pulled out the seats, so they could just walk in, ready for take off. I clearly remember Dad yelling, “Yvette, your turn to drive!”

I was so excited, I hardly noticed that I had Holstein butts and tails on my neck and in my face. I crept slowly over the road so that I didn’t jostle my black-and-white passengers. Now I had to back up. Dad was giving me hand gestures, like he was trying to land a small plane. I didn’t know what the heck he was doing, so I gunned it, and well, I heard the yelling and then a cow butt in my face. I had run over the feed bunk and smashed it.

Everybody eventually was laughing, and my bovine passengers got out safely and did some rodeo moves in their new home. I was pretty embarrassed and wound up building a smaller version of the feed bunk in Ag class.

After that we got pretty good at driving seed corn out to the field, moving calves and Dad let us take the Bomb out to the hay field. It was about ½ mile long. We were told, NO tricks and couldn’t go over 45 mph.

We painted the Bomb with rainbows and more. It was awesome. Pretty soon, we got pretty good. When we went over the hill, we would show off our best Chitwood Brothers' moves. spin cookies, speed and have fun. But then we came back over the hill, slow, in case Dad was watching. It was wonderful.

When we were in our 30’s, we were talking about the tricks my sister and I would do. Dad was just sitting there smiling. Pretty soon, he said, “I know. I climbed on top of the silo one day and saw you guys. Pretty good. I saw you coming back over the hill like angels, not knowing you saw me. I just sat and watched.”

Busted! We just looked at each and laughed.

Recently, my brother who runs Nordstrom’s Auto Recyclers in rural Garretson, found the Bomb in the salvage yard – rusted and worn from wear and the years. She looked older and well, worn out. Just parts. We opened the e-mail and all those memories flooded back to learning how to drive, and not seeing the Bomb all rusted, but painted with rainbows and laughing and sailing through the alfalfa field.

What were your first driving memories? Let me know!

Yvette VanDerBrink
The Lil’ Nordstrom’s Gal
VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC

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