In my mind there were few things I learned to do that equaled the sheer pleasure of driving a car! I learned to drive when I was young, fourteen as I recall. I learned on country roads, places I couldn’t hurt anyone other than ruining my boyfriend at that times car! And I was young to have a boyfriend but I was strong-willed young woman and there I was on my sixteenth birthday (and having passed drivers training in school) ready for my license. Hooray! I passed with flying colors. Passing with flying colors in Munising Michigan isn’t saying much seeing there wasn’t even a street light, no merging highways, the hardest thing for me is I did need to learn driving ‘a stick shift’. So at one time I could drive with the best of the guys, at least I thought so. The good thing was my mother drove an automatic shift and so the family car was automatic. The test would be a piece of cake!
I think the day I got my license I was off running errands or making up errands as soon as my mother got home from work. The car was so freeing and fun to drive, a whole world opened up for me. My mother and dad’s car was never so clean once I could drive it! I could hardly wait to buy my own! Which I did within a very short time.
My parents were very free allowing me to use their car, and I was pretty useful driving off to the grocery store to buy something my mother had forgotten. Of course each trip took far longer then it needed seeing I had to drive all the streets of Munising hoping I might see someone I knew to wave at, maybe even an ‘older’ boy. One summer day my dad asked me if I’d take the car and give his father, Grandpa Joe a ride to the doctor’s office. Grandma and grandpa lived in Shingleton, about 12 miles from Munising, a nice ride. I would be able to show grandpa how well, and fast I could drive, how grown up I was.
Can you imagine how comfortable he must have been? I wasn’t a very big young woman, most likely 100 pounds wringing wet and I didn’t look old for my age. Although I was chatty and I really did enjoy my grandpa. He was I thought very ‘old-fashioned’, he didn’t drive, he didn’t write and I’m not certain he could read, he spoke English rather well, I think he preferred his native Croatian. He walked everywhere he went, many miles through the woods to go hunting or fishing, he was a competent man. He had been a lumberjack earning his land by helping to log the forests of his part of Upper Michigan. He built his and grandma’s house, all the out buildings and an extra house to rent. That included two out houses, one for the little house and a rather deluxe one with three openings and I do think I remember one was smaller for the children. One of his out buildings was a work shop, from the time I was small I loved to go in there to see just what mysterious thing I might find or see. He had all sorts of tools and sharpeners, warned to not go near the scythes because they were really very sharp. He sharpened them on a grinding wheel and that was how the lawn got mowed. It wasn’t cut until the daisies stopped blooming. Grandma and grandpa’s house and property was one of my favorite places to spend time. I believe my love of gardens started right there in Shingleton Michigan on grandma and grandpa Dolaski’s piece of America.
Back to our summer day and grandpa’s exciting ride with his grand-daughter, Trudy Lee. I drove the top end of the speed limit all the way, passing cars if needed; I was out to impress grandpa. I don’t think I did, but I felt special taking him to town for his appointment. He was most likely very happy to reach the doctor’s office in one piece.
When I picked grandpa up at home he was carrying a brown paper bag with him. The time was late morning; I asked him what was in the bag. Well, he was pretty sure he was going to miss lunch while he was waiting to see the doctor so he brought it with him. I knew grandpa always planned ahead, usually anticipating anything that might happen but bring his lunch to the doctor was a new one and I knew better than to giggle on the outside like I was in the inside
We made it to the doctor’s office in record time, I assume that was because I felt the high-end of the speed limit was the proper way to drive. We found a seat in the waiting room; I helped him get checked in and found us a place to sit, the office did have other patients waiting. Grandpa must have decided either due to his stomach or his pocket watch it was time for his lunch. He took out his ever-present pocket knife, opened his brown bag, cut a nice piece of onion, a chunk of bologna and began to eat. I’m sure he offered me a bite and I can’t say I remember having any but I know I didn’t have any onion. To someone else this may have been an embarrassing moment, for me it was not. People knew one another in Munising, I’m certain everyone in the waiting room understood this was grandpa’s ‘way’ and I was smiling on the inside at how comfortable he was. He had no false ‘airs’ about him, he was who he was all the time. I was proud of him.
Our ride home was uneventful, I didn’t even know why he was seeing the doctor. I expect it was serious otherwise he’d not have been there. I must not have given the why much thought then seeing I remember being quite happy on my ride back ‘to town’. I was ready for another adventure driving!