It’s not exactly Mother’s Day, but stumbling into this picture of an American suburban family in 1956 out for a little family bonding time in their Model T (grandpa’s?) reminded me of two things. One, how utterly impossible this scene would have been in my family. And two, if it had happened, how glad I would have been to have my mom at the wheel instead of my dad.
My father had a very unfortunate ability to put any and every rider in the car with him ill at ease, and that didn’t just end with family members. But my mother, although she didn’t learn to drive until we moved to the US in 1960 when she was almost forty, quickly became a relaxed and natural driver. On our memorable long-distance summer vacation trips, we’d all let out a collective sigh when my father handed the wheel over to her. Even then, he’d constantly be scanning the speedometer, traffic, and not relax. So there’s no one moment that jumps out at me; just the collective memories of those times when I was alone with her at the wheel, the sense of security and ease that was so utterly missing with him at the wheel. I learned that driving/riding could actually be a pleasant time, not a fraught one. Which is perhaps the most important one of all.