Whoa Whoa Whoa

Now he remembered. The right foot was used to step on the starter. The starter started the engine. The engine would start if the key was on. That made sense. So perhaps he was ready to begin the first step.

Grandpa turned the key to the right and waited. Nothing happened. Then Grandpa stepped on the starter. The growl startled him and he removed his foot. With more courage now, Grandpa pressed on the starter again and waited. The growling continued. It continued as long as Grandpa stepped on the starter. But the engine did not run.

Grandpa paused for a few minutes. Was there anything George had said about starting the Chandler that he had not done? He had checked everything under the hood. What could it be? Grandpa scrutinized the dash instruments more closely. He saw 4 dials with needles and two knobs. One knob was labeled Lights and the other Choke. Well he certainly didn’t need the lights now since it was broad daylight, but what about the Choke? Then he remembered George showing him that the Choke knob should be pulled out if the engine needed more gas for starting. This might be exactly such a case since the car had not run for many weeks.

Grandpa pulled the Choke knob about half way out and again pressed on the starter with his right foot. The starter growled and then suddenly the engine burst into resounding life. Grandpa had started the Chandler all by himself. A smile slowly pumped out his cheeks.

Next Grandpa had the good sense to slowly push the Choke knob in and the Chandler continued to run better. Grandpa was not exactly pleased with the loud noise the engine made.

Well, that’s the way of all machines. Can’t do anything about that, he thought.

Now, to drive is to move, Grandpa thought. The gearshift lever must be the way to make it move. On the gearshift knob was marked 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and R. This lever must hold the means for getting into motion. George had said so.

Cautiously Grandpa grabbed the gearshift lever and pulled it down in the direction of 1st. The car responded with a loud grinding noise.

Oh. That didn’t sound good. It didn’t feel good either. What could be the problem?

Grandpa pulled harder and suddenly the lever moved into the 1st position with a loud KLUNCK and the Chandler lurched ahead for a fraction of a second. But the engine had stopped. Something was wrong. They weren’t moving.

In his hurry to set things right Grandpa again stepped on the starter with the gearshift in 1st and the engine started… and continued to move forward. Quickly Grandpa steered away from a tree. But as the yard was a little bumpy Grandpa’s foot slipped over to the left and stepped on something that caused the Chandler to immediately gain speed. It seemed like he was going horribly fast … and he couldn’t stop. Fortunately there was enough room to turn the car in a wide circle and miss all the tree trunks that loomed in his face.

“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa,” Grandpa shouted but the Chandler did not stop.

“Whoa, Whoa. Whoa,” he shouted again and again while narrowly missing one tree after another.

This brought Grandma out on a run.

“Run it into a tree,” she shouted. “Stop it with a tree. Bump into a tree.”

Panic written all over his face Grandpa did finally run the Chandler into a tree. The impact bent the bumper slightly but otherwise the Chandler seemed to survive rather well.

As quickly as he could Grandpa ran away and into the house in tears. For once Grandma was quiet and followed him with slow step.

Perhaps I was too hard on him, she thought.

Grandma found him sitting in his rocking chair wondering whether he would ever be able to cope with the new fangled machinery everyone else had already acquired and learned how to use.

“I told you I couldn’t control it,” he mumbled. “I’m just too old for this kind of stuff.”

What will George say, Grandma thought.

George already had pompously remarked to her one day that it was clear to everyone that Grandpa was not cut out to be a Canadian farmer. The horse and buggy days were over and only farms with modern machinery could make a go of it. George had suggested that maybe they should move into town and forget all about farming.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
author
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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