Whoa Whoa Whoa

Grandma told no one about Mr. E’s visit, not even Grandpa. It would only upset him and send him out of control. Perhaps it wasn’t even true. Better to leave the whole thing alone and let it die a natural death. Or if true, better to let the truth reveal itself, Grandma thought.

Jake grew into a fine young man. He performed exceptionally well in school, was liked by teachers and students alike, had an easy-going personality and enjoyed competitive sports. Studying for exams came effortlessly and soon he was through with high school. Teachers recommended he continue studies at the Normal School in Winnipeg and become a teacher. Gerhard had already graduated from the Normal School in Manitou some years earlier and told Jake all about the great adventure it was becoming a teacher. Normal School also came easy for Jake and soon he was teaching at small schools in the villages of Burwalde and Friedensruh around Morden, Manitoba.

Meanwhile back at the farm ,the Chandler sat shaded by a huge tree on the south side of the house.

“When are you going to learn to drive the car?” Grandma questioned one day.

Grandpa was afraid this problem would come up sooner or later.

“When no one’s around.”

“When no one’s around? I’m always around when you’re home. How can you learn to drive when no one’s around?”

“Well. I didn’t mean you. I don’t want the neighbours to see me making a stupid mistake. That’s all.”

“If that’s what you’re worried about why don’t you plan on a Sunday morning when everyone else goes to church?”

“I will. I will.”

“Do you know anything at all about how you’re going to control the car once it’s going?”

“I have poured in gas. I have checked the water in the radiator. I have pulled the stick and checked the oil level like George showed me. I have looked at the tires to see that they have enough air. I even have pumped one up a bit when it went low. I’ve done all that.”

“Then why don’t you try and drive it?”

“I’m afraid.”

“Would it help if I came with you?”

“No. Definitely not. George says women often make men nervous when driving. Just stay in the house.”

“Fine. When?”

“Give me some time. Maybe next Sunday morning.”

Next Sunday came. The morning was bright and clear. The air was still and the crickets chirped as only the heat of an August day can induce. Grandpa knew he was trapped. He had no excuse. He had to make an effort to learn to drive the Chandler today. He had made a promise. Grandma would never let him forget it if he made an excuse now.

Grandpa got into the Chandler and sat down behind the huge wooden steering wheel. He closed the door and stared at the instruments. He didn’t know what they were for but he knew which was the key. The key was in the ignition. It had to be turned to the right before starting the car. George had shown him that.

George also had shown Grandpa how to put the long gearshift lever into neutral. Only in neutral could you sway the lever all the way to the left and all the way to the right. In neutral only should you start the engine. George had been emphatic about that.

Grandpa remembered that the right foot had some kind of job. Actually it seemed both feet had some job but Grandpa couldn’t remember what these jobs were. He kept staring at the steering wheel and ignoring his feet. He guessed that turning the wheel to the right would be the same as pulling the rein to the right and turning the wheel to the left would be the same as pulling the rein to the left. That satisfied him. Maybe that was all there was to it.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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