My first car
In 1968 I was working at the Cleveland Plain Dealer as an intern in the commercial art department and wanted to buy a car. My Dad was willing to co-sign with me for the loan from the paper’s credit union since I hadn’t worked there very long.
After some searching I settled on a blue four door 1965 “businessman’s special” Dodge Dart, three speed on the column, no radio, and plastic upholstery… granted, I had no idea how to drive stick but Dave was sure he could teach me to drive…even though my father had tried with little success.
But before I could take the car to Cleveland, my parents made me drive it around Ashtabula as much as possible. One night I had my mother and my aunt Jean with me on our way to pick up Maryalice (Dave's Mom) at their home on South Ridge Road. The shortest route was West Ave to Bunker Hill Road and then out on the South Ridge… however, West Ave dead-ended at Bunker Hill Rd. And at that point West Ave is fairly steep, a hill that was used each summer for the Soap Box Derby!
Well, wouldn’t you know it the traffic on Bunker Hill was pretty busy as I approached the top and I had to stop. I panicked and coasted back down the hill and tried it again, once again I panicked and coasted down and tried a third time, and yet again I coasted back down.
Suddenly, from the back seat my aunt said very firmly…"JEAN ELIZABETH! Don't you know how to drive this car?"
Well, that un-nerved me completely so I turned the car around and took W. 58th street over to Main Street and up Bunker Hill Road with a much gentler slop to the Fuller’s house.
Eventually I mastered it so I could drive from my apartment in Warrensville Heights downtown to the Plain Dealer building on 18th and Superior… however, I had one major problem, while the fastest route was relatively level, most places I wanted to go after work were in the Eastern suburbs …all of them with the word “Heights” in their names (Cleveland Hts, Maple Hts, Mayfield Hts, Shaker Hts and the hard one, Seven Hills!) Seemed as if every major road had a traffic light on top of every hill and it took me ages to over-come the fear of stalling out in the middle of the intersections!