I was not by any means a wild child teenager. I lived on a farm in northern Indiana six months every year. This agreement about my residency was made by my divorced parents. I was perplexed at first when I was about eight years old but my Grandmother explained every thing quite nicely and I avoided a guilt complex. Grandmother told me that I was not responsible for my parent’s problems or the fact they were not mature enough to resolve their issues. This explanation satisfied my curiosity and I went about exploring my environment. I loved walking about observing a working farm. I watched the large tractors pulling cultivators that plowed the earth. Something in my curious mind compelled me to approach my Grandfather about driving one of those large beasts called a tractor. My uncle who was just six months older than me was allowed to drive a tractor so why couldn’t I?
What Did You Just Say?
Just remember this is the 1950’s and women were considered lacking in certain mental capacities. Yes, I can say without a doubt my Grandfather was a chauvinist swine. He shook his head and told me I needed to act like a young lady should act and not like a hedonistic tomboy. I took this as a sign of war and created a campaign to be able to learn to drive a tractor. It took me a month to persuade my Grandfather it was easier just to let me find out I wasn’t smart enough to drive a tractor.
When Did You Say?
It was 1952 and I had just turned ten years old. I will admit I was and still AM tenacious and stubborn. My Grandfather finally gave me permission because he thought my feet would not reach the gears of the vehicle. He should have known better because I asked that new spring lifted peddles be made so I could learn to drive. A set had been made for my uncle so it was easy to make me a set. Yes, I learned to drive a tractor at the age of ten. No driver’s license required to drive farm implements.
Where Did You Say?
It was northern Indiana and there are farms everywhere you look. Indiana is one of the top producers of crops that feed this country. I was given a patch of ground that was called ‘Miss Pris’. I drove a small garden tractor to prep and cultivate my patch of land. I planted a small garden of wild flowers and sold my flowers on my own flower stand. You might think that a flower stand in a rural area would not have much business but I assure you I had no problem selling flowers.
Who is ‘Hot Sadie’?
In 1955 Ford Motor Company offered a new sports car to the public. It was called a ‘Thunderbird’ and from the instant I saw that little car I was in love. I saved my money from my wild flower sales because I wanted to buy a car when I became sixteen years old. When I became sixteen years old I could get a drivers license. My Grandparents insisted I take a defensive driving class at school before I took my driving test. My third oldest uncle who had just returned from the Army shared my admiration for the little sports car and bought a Ford Thunderbird he dubbed ‘Hot Sadie’.
How Did ‘Hot Sadie’ become mine?
It would be another three years before I could get my drivers license so I worked hard and saved every penny I earned from my flower business. My Grandparents offered to buy me a car but I wanted to buy a car myself. I had been to several dealerships and knew how expensive cars were so I was prepared to deal. My sixteenth birthday came and went in 1958 and I did pass my drivers test and get my drivers license. My disappointment came when I discovered Ford had discontinued making the ‘Thunderbird’ sports car. I looked at other cars but just was not happy with anything I found. The next step was to advertise in the local newspaper and maybe just maybe I might find a pre-owned ‘Thunderbird’ in good condition. A week later a ‘Thunderbird’ sports car roared down our driveway and parked in front of my grandparent’s large farm house. I heard my third oldest uncle greeting everyone until he walked into the living-room and grabbed my hand. Imagine my surprise when my uncle placed ‘Hot Sadie’s’ car keys in my hand and said, “I need a ride home.”
I paid my uncle for the car even though he wanted to give me the car as a gift. I enjoyed driving my little ‘Thunderbird’ sports car for three years and then a garbage truck dropped a metal container on my legally parked car. My heart was broken over my destroyed sports car and I would never find a replacement. My memories of driving on the beach, beach campfire days, picnicking and the wind blowing in my hair would be forever a joy never again repeated. Oh, I have had other sports cars but none like my bright sky blue painted Ford ‘Thunderbird’.
Author Whitney Joh is a retired Science teacher.