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My Turn: Learning to drive in a different era

The recent article about learning to drive ("Taking the Wheel," exploreLI, Feb. 3) brought to mind my own experiences in that department.

I never had driver's education in school. When I was a student at Bay Ridge High School in Brooklyn between 1941 and 1945, there was no such thing. Most people didn't have cars; they traveled mostly by subway or sometimes on buses or even trolleys. I doubt that people in the suburbs had driver's ed then either; they probably were taught by family members.

My family happened to own a car because my father was a doctor, and in those days, doctors actually made house calls. The only time I saw the inside of that car was on Sunday, when my father didn't have office hours and we went out for dinner.

Fast forward many years, to 1964. I am married and living in Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan with my husband and two children. For the past few years we have borrowed my in-laws' car when we wanted to visit friends or family in the suburbs or go on a brief vacation.

But we are in the process of buying a brand-new house in Lido Beach, and I want to learn to drive. I go down to the Department of Motor Vehicles in lower Manhattan and get the booklet that outlines the rules of the road. I go home and read and reread those rules. When I go back to the DMV for the written test, the examiner tells me that I got 100. Mazel tov! I tell him that was the easy part. Wait until the road test.

Ah, the road test! I have taken lessons with a local instructor, a very patient man. I don't remember where I practiced, probably at one of the beach parking lots.

I don't remember much about the road test, except that I flunked it.

"Poor motor control" is the catchall phrase, I think.

So I take some more lessons, and this time I pass the road test.

At this point my son is in fourth grade and my daughter in half-day kindergarten, so she is my guinea pig. I remember the first time I made a right turn from East Park Avenue in Long Beach onto Long Beach Road. A moment of triumph. I don't remember how far we progressed on Long Beach Road.

Soon after I got really bold and took my 5-year-old and 8-year-old and my son's 9-year-old friend all the way to the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in 1964. I must have been out of my mind. But we made it. My son still talks about it more than 50 years later.

Over the years, I had my share of minor accidents, nothing serious and no injuries. I know some women who never learned to drive, but I'm glad I did.

I continued driving until about 15 years ago, when my daughter opened a charge account with the local taxi company. I go to the bank and take out 50 singles at a time. I dole out a $2 tip for each ride. I'm happy with the arrangement, and I hope the cabdrivers are, too.

Marcie Livingston,

Lido Beach

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