Friday, November 14, 2008

65 Mini

Mom called it her Mini Minor. Red with a black roof. Right hand drive (brought from England). Stick shift of course in the classic ‘H’ pattern. Sliding front windows. 13” wheels. Can’t remember if it had a radio, but I do remember the large round dial in the center of the dash. Didn’t have headrests and don’t ask about seatbelts. Air conditioning? Slide the windows open.

This was Mom’s car. She liked small cars and loved tossing it around the curves. Felt like a go cart even though power was ‘well under’ 90 hp.

My job on the weekend was to wash and clean the Mini. Something that I eagerly looked forward to each Saturday morning.

At the time we had a single car driveway on a steep incline with a wrought iron gate at the bottom of the driveway. The Mini lived under the car port beside the house. Dad parked his car immediately behind when he arrived home.

This particular Saturday morning Dad had to go out for the morning so he backed the Mini down the driveway for me to do my chores. As usual, he left it in gear (reverse) and engaged the parking brake. And of course his final instructions to get Mom to drive it back up the driveway once I had finished. The unspoken was that I was NOT to drive it.

Bright sunny morning. Dad away. Mom busy. Chores complete. Time for my first drive. Not so good at listening to advice at that age. After all, I had ridden shotgun long enough to know that you had to engage the clutch to shift gears.

Did I mention that it was a steep driveway? With a closed iron gate at the bottom?

I slipped behind the wheel. Confidently grasped the wheel with my right hand. Engaged the clutch. Released the handbrake. Surprise, surprise…the Mini started rolling down the driveway. And with me being all of 10 years old at the time, not having a clue about how to stop it.

The resulting damage to the car and the iron gate was relatively minor. The damage to my ego much larger. The punishment was grounding for the balance of the weekend, but I swear I saw a small smile on Dad’s face.

Never did get the ignition started for my first drive. And Dad never repaired the damage to either the car or the gate.

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