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LifestyleRetirement

My Turn: Driver education was a turning point

"Look, Ma, I'm driving," a photo from the 1950 Sayville High School yearbook, sparked cherished memories in Act 2 reader John L. Kenny. Photo Credit: Sayville Library

When I took my two teenage granddaughters to Friendly’s restaurant in Sayville, I encountered several large black-and-white photos on the wall, one of which was a picture of the 1950 Sayville High School driver education car and some students.

The picture shows three female students, the driving instructor and a Ford sedan similar to the car that I learned to drive on. It took me back to when I was 16. I was in high school and denied permission to enroll in driver education because I failed a test in history. I was very upset and told my father that I wanted to leave school and join the Navy. But my father would not sign the papers giving me permission.

My dad, whom I was not close to, told me that if I stayed in school, he would teach me how to drive. We agreed on this and the following Sunday, my dad took me to a large parking field in Levittown where I spent weeks learning to drive. We then went to Jones Beach early in the morning and practiced driving for several weeks.

Finally, I got to drive on Sunrise Highway, heading east into Suffolk County. We stopped at a diner for lunch and then continued to drive for several hours.

After months of intensive driving, I took my road test and passed. After a month of driving my dad’s car, I was allowed to take the car to school and to a part-time job.

I was so proud to be driving. It was a new world of opportunity.

As I look back, my relationship with my father became close. I never thought he would trust me with the responsibility of driving his car at age 17.

The driver education photo was a vivid reminder of a life experience that will always be remembered.

As I look at the picture, I wonder where the three girls are and if their lives progressed in a positive manner.

To me, that photo is about much more than learning to drive. It’s about learning to live, to move forward in life and to love and embrace life; to cherish good memories.

A copy of the 1950 Sayville High School driver education photo from the annual yearbook, obtained from the Sayville Library, is now on display in my home.

John L. Kenny,

Levittown

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