Grandma Drives, Not

For the entirety of their marriage, Virginia did not drive. Betty told me “she wouldn’t touch one of his [Taylor’s] cars.”

One or more of the boys taught her to drive sometime in the mid-sixties. Aunt Betty thought it was after Grandpa’s death [d. 12/22/1967]. Dad [Steve] remembers taking her driving before they went to Italy [1967]. The experiment was short-lived.

During their drives, she was very nervous all the time, with a quivering lip, but Dad doesn’t recall her actually breaking down and crying. She took it as a challenge and was determined to do it. Dad took her out a couple of times, but she also took formal lessons.

Mum [Marcia, Steve’s wife] and Dad took her down to Boston to get her license. He doesn’t think she passed the written exam the first time. Mum quizzed her on the way to the testing site, asking practice multiple choice question, such as “What’s the speed limit in a residential area? A. 10 miles/hour. B. 20 miles/hour. C. 30 miles/hour. D. 40 miles/hour.

Grandma frequently chose the wrong answer and justified her choice as the safe option: “I’ll say it’s 10 miles/hour because then even if it’s 20 miles/hour, I’ll be driving under the speed limit, so I won’t be breaking the law.”

Washburn and Auburndale, courtesy of Google MapsUncle Wally bought her the car.

She was returning home to 16 Washburn Ave in Auburndale, driving up Auburndale Avenue. At the intersection with Washburn Ave., she made a left. Instead of taking the corner completely, she ran into the neighbor’s porch instead.

The McCrees called it their piazza—Mrs. McCree was Italian. They had a son Dad’s age named Jackie. Inside Mrs. McCree asked her husband, “What are light’s doing , coming out from underneath the piazza?”

“It just came up,” said Grandma when Dad asked her what had happened. After this, she decided not to drive anymore.

story as recalled by Betty in a conversation with Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), November 13, 2013, and by Steve in a conversation with Dawn Harrell, November 20, 2013
  • What other stories of Grandma’s driving exploits do you recall?
  • Did she pay for porch repairs? Did someone from the family repair the porch for them?
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