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Sordid Pasts: Marsha & Randy

I don’t have enough pictures scanned yet, so this one is bringing up all the memories of our earliest years in Portland, Oregon.  There is no date on this picture, but I’m guessing December, 1968, and I am barely 17.  We have just moved to a house from an apartment complex that had four units hooked to one thermostat – ours.  We had ALL the heat, and the neighbors at the end had none.  Our windows were open all winter.

Randy was in the process of growing from 5'3 to 6'3 in one year, and very proud of it.

Randy was in the process of growing from 5’3 to 6’3 in one year, and very proud of it.  Don’t you love my “grandma” shoes?

You can’t see the little white house, which I later burned up partly.  We rented from Mr. and Mrs. O’Bara this wonderful house between Glisan and Burnside on 68th Street.  I wasn’t driving yet, but I had taken driver’s ed in the summer to a disastrous end.  You can see the car behind us.  It was a Beetle, like many people had in those days, and it went a long ways on a dollar when gas was $.27 a gallon.  Mom could never afford more than that at a time, and I didn’t drive unless I absolutely had to.

Mom felt magnanimous one day and told me I could drive to Fred Meyers, which was on Glisan and 67th, one block and one light away.  The car faced the way you see it.  I turned left on Davis that side street you see, and left again on 67th.  One more block until the light, and I made it.  Unfortunately, the light turned red.  I stopped.  The light turned green.  I put the car in gear, and pressed on the gas.  Jolt – stop.  I started it again.  Jolt to 1/4 the way through the intersection.  Stop.  Again, I started the car.  By this time I’m panicked and crying.  Mom gripped the grab handle so hard her knuckles turned white.  The light turned red.  Glisan traffic was ready to go, and I was only 3/4 of the way through the intersection.  I kept going.  Jolt – stop – jolt – stop.  The right hand lanes of traffic zoomed past my little air-cooled motor.

As soon as we cleared Glisan, I gladly jerked to the curb, and Mom and I quickly traded seats.  She drove the half block down a steep hill into the parking lot of Fred Meyers.  I didn’t drive again until summer, and only then because Mom was out-of-town, and our great-grandparents were staying with us while she was gone.  Neither of them could drive a stick shift.  (hahaha)

So what do you think happened?

What crazy experience did you have driving when you were 15-17?

27 replies »

  1. I learned to drive on a standard tranny & I couldn’t wait to get my license & drive. Luckily for me (not for him) my boyfriend at the time lost his license for a few months, so we hurried me through driver testing & I got to be chauffeur for us for those months. Even taking the car home at night!


  2. Wonderful story …. is Randy your brother ???? or a boyfriend .. you look sweet enough to have one *smile – great photo. My driving story … ended up in an accident that nearly cost us our lives … haven’t driven since. In Sweden we start driving at the age of 18.


    • Randy is my only brother, two years younger than I am. Your accident sounds awful. I’m glad you and your passengers were ok – or at least recovered. I was in a car accident at age 17 coming home from a graduation party, and we were hit head on by a drunk driver. I sat in the passenger seat, and went through the windshield. A girl in the back seat did die, though. I wasn’t anxious to drive, and waited until I was a bit past 18 when I got my license to drive. I had to wait until I could afford insurance.


      • What a terrible accident – you were lucky. That’s not our own driving we only have to worry about it .. also others too.
        We were luck – our car left the road and rolled down on a field – somebody move a telephone pole in the last second for us. My mom sat with her back again the windshield, it was before the law on safety belt.
        The police said if she had been using safety belt she would have broken her neck.


        • Yikes! How very frightening. I used to worry about the times that seat belts were more of a danger, but I know that the chances of being hurt or much more likely without one than with it. 🙂 Burning accidents are another seat belt hazard.


  3. I don’t remember any crazy experiences while I was driving, but my sister was smoking a cigarette while driving, dropped the cigarette on the floor and as she bent down to pick it up, she ran into someone’s mailbox. She told my dad she had a sneezing fit! 🙂


  4. You definitely “wanted to see how polite Portland drivers were”. You wanted to know if they were more polite than Indy drivers. 😉

    What grandma shoes?! I like them just fine. Can I have them? 🙂


    • You are so funny. Of course, you are welcome to them, just cut and paste. 🙂 I never drove in Indy. I’m taking my brother there for his birthday in Oct. So I’ll drive around some there. I don’t think I EVER had to drive there. OM! 🙂


    • I know! I loved that coat. I made it, and it was the only time in my life I ever made covered buttons. I loved the neckline, and I felt like Jackie Kennedy in it! hahaha (well maybe not quite!) I was quite proud of my accomplishment, though. I couldn’t do it now! 🙂


    • Thanks Naomi. It wasn’t at the time, but time does make a lot of bad things VERY funny. It’s like it happened to someone else when it was that long ago! 🙂


  5. I loved the memories! I learned how to drive in my dad’s BMW 2002 ( model not the year). He had me drive him to Reedley one day when I was practicing for my driving test. We went across the LNG bridge by Reedley Beach and stopped at a stop sign where we had to turn wait her right or left. The problem was, we were stopped on the smallest of hills. I’d let out the clutch, hit the gas, and stall. I must have done that about 8 times. My dad was amazing though because even with twenty cars waiting for me to successfully make it through the intersection, he just patiently instructed me and never got frustrated. I hadn’t thought of that in awhile.


      • Autocorrect can make some funny mistakes! Thanks for the comment Beth! Hope you are having a great summer. Your kids are keeping you busy, I can tell. Don’t try to do too much with that wrist. Did you get your paper written? I haven’t been on FB for a few days. 🙂 Let me know when you guys are going for breakfast together! I had a great time last time! 🙂


    • How awful for you, but what a wonderful dad you have! My dad was better than my mom with patience. I drove my mom’s VW to go waterskiing, and Dad was visiting, so he sat next to me. He casually looked over, never raising his voice or uncrossing his legs said, “I think you had better slow down a little.” That’s it. No argument – unusual for Dad. He must have been scared spitless, but you couldn’t tell it.

      Mom, who was normally the calm one in the family, would not have been so calm. I was going 90 MPH in HER VW Beetle with only about a year’s driving experience behind me at best! It scares me to think I did that! 🙂 I slowed down, BTW 🙂


  6. I have a stick shift. I still put the gear into 3rd instead of 1st sometimes. So I guess I am “still learning”!!

    A cute upbeat post about an upsetting event. I was no whiz at driving in my teen yrs. One month after getting my license I was behind a car waiting at an intersection in a large Ohio city in a not good part of town. It got bright out, so I fumbled for sunglasses under the passager seat. Alas, my foot lifted from the brake, and the heavy automatic car crept forward and banged into the car ahead. My brother said “Hell” or something like that as a tough woman bolted from the banged car and rushed to a gas station nearby to call police! I was mortified and had no clue what to do, never having an accident before. I kept the windows up and just sat in the way of other honking cars, but dared not to move my car.

    The cops showed up. The other car occupants were complaining I wrecked their car, etc. Cops verified a “dollar dent” on an already dented car I bumped, told the other car folks to knock it off, gave me a ticket and sent I and my brother on our way. We never got out of the car. Our car was not damaged. I learned you must always keep your foot on the brake in an automatic drive car!! Dad was not pleased though! He got stuck with the ticket of no sufficient distance between vehicles!


    • Sir, that was a real scrape! I can’t tell you how many of those kinds of scrapes I’ve been in. No tickets, but it does happen. One of my recent scrapes happened on the LA freeway when I was stopped. A car behind me bumped me. I didn’t want to get out – who knows when the cars would start up again. My bumper didn’t get out either. When we did get moving, I saw the cops stopped at the accident that caused the pile-up. I told the officer what happened, he tried to flag the guy down, but no luck. You won’t believe what the CHP told me to do! ”

      “Go get him. Chase him down.” I did. He still didn’t pull over, and there’s more to the story! 🙂


    • Thanks, No story to match mine, Paula? Daughter learning to drive story??? My story is sordid past, but yours might be more current. 🙂 🙂 Marsha 🙂 Have a great weekend 🙂





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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