Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,

Summer, 1969-style

As mentioned, I found my 1969 diary and am going to excerpt it roughly parallel to the entries 36 years ago.

I had just graduated high school, and was taking driver's ed. at summer school (enrollment was by age, and I had to wait until after I graduated since I was young for my grade). As it happened, I never did get a license. The following may indicate why.

* * * * * * *
Tuesday, July 29, 1969

Driver's ed. was a harrowing experience. I lost all confidence in ever being able to competently drive again.

[It was our first time driving on the Long Island Expressway, in pouring rain.] Then it was my turn. They all knew how nervous I was and how badly I drove even in good conditions and not on the Expressway, so doors locked and seatbelts were buckled. I got on all right, but visibility was awful. I didn't even attempt to watch traffic - zooming speed was hard enough and Mr. R said he'd watch the traffic for me. At one point, it was like going through an ocean. I almost hit a car from behind, made uncontrolled lane changes, and panicked when a Volkswagen suddenly pulled in front of me (it's always the VW's who do those crazy moves, Mr. R noted). After getting off, I did things badly the short distance back to school. The car finally stopped and we were still, miraculously, alive. "I guess we were all a little worried," Mr. R concluded.
* * * * *

OK, I lied. I'm going to skip ahead right now to my blue card test(s).

* * * * *
Monday, August 4, 1969

To start the day off well, I failed my blue card test. Before that... [several boring pages on what people on the school bus talked about] Getting to class, I found that D failed yesterday, as did B today (he lost 32 points). Hearing B's score, some of the kids laughed and said it was the lowest score they'd ever heard.

I started gamely, though S later told me I forgot to lock my door. Mr. R seemed to be writing things down the whole time, which didn't help any. I was okay until I kept going although a car was trying to switch in front of me into my lane. That was really dumb - it HAD a signal on - and finally Mr. R had to grab the wheel. "Oh my god," I moaned thinking of the points lost for that "dangerous action." Actually, I could have passed with ONLY that mishap. However, later I switched to the left lane to pass a truck seemingly double parked (no brake lights on). The left lane, though was for mandatory left turns, and Mr. R reminded me we were going straight so, after that error in judgment, I had to switch back. I had made a wide left around the traffic circle near the post office. My park was good as was my 3-point turn except that pulling over to the curb to end the test immediately afterward, I gave a left signal before the stop signal, confused and relieved I was.

Mr. R began by saying that if I hadn't gone so fast I would have done better. I knew now I'd definitely failed. 38 points off turned out to be my score - there were 3 for delayed braking, too. The teacher wondered why I didn't take my time, especially in a test like this. I didn't realize I was going that fast.

Arriving at school, I shook my head to the kids coming to take their turns at the car. "I failed."

Tuesday, August 5, 1969

I passed my blue card test today with 87.

Coming to class, I learned B passed his second blue card test. S and R were really nice to me - S said he'd give me a hint: before I stopped, I should brake softly and then again to avoid jerks. R said her braking had been jerky until she learned to stop gradually.

I proceeded with my test. The new braking method was working and I went slowly. Even the park was okay. I did make a wide left turn near the station, and a harrowing one from a street onto Middle Neck. After my 3-point turn, I thought I didn't have enough room, so I began to back again. Mr. R looked sort of mortified, so I wondered if that had passed me over the borderline to failing. In the stopping place, Mr. R just made me pretend I was getting out - his point was to make me look back.

He hadn't added my points yet, but said he was pretty sure I'd passed, which I did. Driving home ("The test is OVER! Calm down," Mr. R admonished), I wasn't too good; after he finished with my point explanation, I couldn't believe it, asked wonderingly, "Is that ALL?" "Do you want any MORE?" he answered.

[later on August 5] I had a haphazard lunch of cinnamon breadsticks which came out awful (I didn't finish), a pudding, leftover clams, rice krispies and milk, and a plum. Pizza had been my breakfast.

I tried to sleep a little in the afternoon, to little avail. I was surprised by the doorbell being for me - "I'm legal!" cried C happily. She had gotten her license after failing at first. I can't imagine driving all by myself, so I could sympathize with her excitement. When E had become licensed, she and C drove on a tour of houses of all the 14 boys who'd dated, then dropped E. We decided, not being able to do that for me, to go visit B but when we got there it was nearly 5:30, when C had to be home. So we turned around in her driveway and left. C was really exuberant about the FREEDOM of having the car. I wonder if when (if?) I get my license I'll be trusted by my parents. C said she'd drive me around tonight if her parents let her drive at night in the rain.

They didn't; in fact, her mother took her car keys with her on purpose though her mother, who went to play mah-jong, wasn't using the car. Mad at them, she stormed over here, in spite of the rain [1.75 miles, according to MapQuest]. I had given up on her coming (it was almost 10). Her knock was a real surprise especially because I expected her to come by car. [We listened to records and read people's letters to me and gossiped about our friends.] I made her a vanilla-coconut milkshake, which she really liked, and put on "Crown of Creation." Conversation was lagging - and after trying unsuccessfully to call her father, she decided to walk home. It was 11:15 and my parents slept. Her father called about 11:45 - he was worried she hadn't returned home. I told him the route she took and he went out to look for her. Mommy and Daddy, awakened by the phone, were mad that I hadn't woken them up, and I began worrying, too. Mommy told me to call and find out if she was home yet; luckily she was.

Now I'm in the incredibly hot playing room alone with the spiders (webs at least) and paintings. Driver ed. tomorrow will seem anticlimactic. Good god - this entry was 21 pages [which I have mercifully spared you from]. Why must a simple, do-nothing life merit so many confused, complex thoughts and entries? On the other hand, this might all be normal.
* * * * *

I think that's enough for now.
Tags: 1969

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