Friday, August 26, 2011

Driver's Training Revisited


I was driving by Southwestern High School yesterday and wondered what happened to the driver's training course where many of us learned to parallel park for the second time...after learning the first time at Safetyville. I had to jump a fence, which is surprisingly difficult when you're 45, in order to discover — shockingly — that it's now an overgrown lot and dumping ground for various oddities, like kid's toys and an old boat. Apparently, learning to drive has been privatized in Flint.







23 comments:

  1. Jan - Apr '64. Mr. Squire and Mr. Ewing. Fifteen year old too scared to use the accelorator pedal and just idling around the course. Don't remember having to manuever around a boat, though.

    Cooley's Dictum

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  2. I hardly remember driving around the course. We spent so much time parallel parking, angle parking, and "skill" driving around cones without knocking them down, that we hardly got to drive on the course. I think the guy thought he could guarantee having me again the next year by giving me one point short on the skill test. I fooled him by getting the highest score ever on the written test. I actually read the whole driver training textbook. I can parallel park, if you count ending up two or three feet from the curb. It's not a skill you need much unless you frequent downtown areas.

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  3. i almost didn't pass drivers training because i was bad at parallel parking! i am still bad at it thank god i dont have to do it very often! i think its genetic my daughter can't do it either!!

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  4. The rest of the country is waiting until ten years from now, when most cars will autodrive to the selected destination, to do away with driver training.

    Flint, though, is well ahead of the curve, having turned this driver training facility into a greenspace already.

    Once again, Flint is avant-garde.

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  5. I remember driving on the course six car lengths behind the car in front, trying to pull an orange cone from under the car while Mr. Squire yelled over the loud speaker, and the parallel parking. I never drove the car in traffic until i got my permit and drove home from downtown. Talk about white knuckle driving!

    When my son took drivers training in 1986 they didn't have time to teach him to park. That is what privatization has done to help young drivers.

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  6. How sad. I wonder what the story is with the boat and playground equipment.

    One thing about parallel parking is that you don't get much of a chance to practice unless you are a downtown person.

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  7. I remember DT like it was yesterday. We always had new big Buicks! I remember driving to the doughnut shop on Bristol road. I think it was 1973...Wow.

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  8. Unlike the others who posted comments....I can parallel park like a b*#ch....any time I do parallel park Squire plays through my brain like a Kodachrome slide show....always thought he reminded me of Touche Turtle with a shirt and tie

    My first day on the "range" was in a 78 Park Avenue with a brake pedal on the passenger side...the chick I got paired up with couldn't drive for beans...I had to slam on the binders to keep her from crashing....she called me everything in the book....Mr.Squire made us stand outside the car while he lectured and yelled at her over the loud-speaker and would not allow her to drive the rest of the class period.....man those were good times......one of the other guys in another class whose dad was an administrator with the Flint Board of Ed took one of the cars crashed thru the fence jumped on the e-way and made it to Ohio before running out of gas.....hey that was pretty good gas mileage for back in the day....ahhh the good ole' days......

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  9. In 1964 Mr. Ewing wouldn't give me a second chance on the track for the whole semester after yelling at me that I almost killed him and the 3 other kids in the car's rear seat. Granted I did hit the accelerator and forget to turn the steering wheel at the same time without braking, but come on, it was my fist time behind the wheel on the first day. He said I would never learn to drive but I fooled him by learning just fine on the city streets in a borrowed 56 Chevy and my brother-in-law instructing me. In 46 years of driving since Mr. Ewing's prediction, I have only had 2 parking tickets and a weather-related fender bender. So there Mr. Ewing. Ptheeth!

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  10. Mr. Ewing could have taken a cue from Mr. Hand from "Fast Times". As bad as Jeff Spicoli was, Mr. Hand tried and succeeded in teaching him.

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  11. I took driver's ed there in the 80's... that damn loud speaker... I remember a girl getting the car stuck in a snow bank and we all had to get out of our cars and push her out!

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  12. I was shocked to learn that parents have to pay upwards of $300 for their kids to take drivers ed here in Virginia Beach at the public school. From what I've heard from relatives back in MI, the whole country is going that way.
    I didn't get to use the facilities at Southwestern, having attended Swartz Creek H.S., but we did terrorize the village with our lack of driving skills.
    I really learned how to parallel park via necessity. I lived in Sunset Village Apts off of Bradley. They had the smallest parking lot and if you didn't get home early enough, it was either learn to parallel park, or walk a mile with your groceries.

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  13. I loved DT! Taking the class in winter was extra helpful! I even was able to rock out of sand in Mexico when I finally convinced the guys we were with to let me try after they got us stuck!
    Mr Squire was a grouch, but I learned to drive pretty well. Like "slick", I can parallel park like a b*#ch! Living in the Detroit area I get plenty of opportunity! Royal Oak, Birmingham, Howell.

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  14. My daughter got her learner's permit yesterday out here in Boston and I was thinking "aim hight in steering" and get the big picture" which I learned at Southwestern. Those teachers did a great job and it was cool driving recent model cars out at that facility. I wish we had it for the kids here.

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  15. Pity such facilities aren't moveable. I reckon FBOE would sell the Southwestern one to your Boston-area community pretty cheap right now. They might even throw in a boat and some greenery.

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  16. When I took DT at Southwestern they scheduled the classes for very early in the morning before school. There weren't any buses so the kids had to drive to school without licenses for drivers training.

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  17. In 1959 they bussed us from Central at the end of 5th hour for DT - we received school credit for enrolling. To this day, everytime I parallel park, I think of Mr. Squires saying "now pull up parallel with the steering wheel in the parked car in front of you and then put car in reverse." Still marvel that we had brand new cars to practice with - much better than those most of us had at home. Thank you GM!

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  18. In 1967, Mr. Squire lived across the street from a neighborhood friend. He let four of us kids practice on a Saturday when no one else was around. We went to St. Mikes, so it was during the summer. Mr. Chambers was a good drivers ed. teacher too. What a shame about SW.

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  19. Mr. Chambers and Mr. Eggert were instructors at Southwestern when I returned from from military service in the fifties. I had both as coaches when I was in school. Ralph Eggert at McKinley J.H. and Bill Chambers at Bendle H.S. They were both great guys and later became good friends at Southwestern. Ralph almost lost his life while teaching D.T. out on I-75. Made a miraculous recovery and continued on to his nineties. They both made my life better for knowing them. They were very well liked by their students and co-workers, but most of all they were effective,skilled educators.

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  20. Unclebuck, did Mr. Chambers live on Park Forest Dr. in Westgate, on the east west part up by Atherton Rd?

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  21. Stay Positive, I can't remember where Mr. Chambers moved to, but during that time frame,he lived on Crawford St. a few blocks east of Fenton RD.

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  22. All of the men were large and became later Good friends in the southwest. Ralph almost lost his life while teaching DT outside the 75-I. Made miraculous recovery and continued into his nineties. Made all my best to see them. And very well liked by students and co-workers, but most of all it was effective and skilled teachers.

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  23. learned there in 1964 frist driving a buick.. frist time power steering and power brakes thedriver training was free thru the school...

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