ALL ABOARD: A modern art form - driving in reverse
By JIM FREEMAN
South Whidbey Record Columnist
June 26, 2008 · Updated 8:00 AM
While backing my sometime-later-to-be-paid-for truck up a hill today, I realized once again how much I enjoy backing up.
Not just remembering, mind you, or mind me, but the sheer joy of doing a good job backing up your vehicle, be it your car, your truck, your rig, your boat, your trailer or your riding mower.
Mom taught me how to back up when I was allowed to drive her three-speed 1953 Chevy up and down our 50-foot driveway.
What a risk taker Mom was.
At speeds of up to four miles an hour, Mom’s Chevy and I were a real threat to the neighbors.
No matter what, I recall the fear I felt trying to stay on the narrow threatening asphalt.
Those Columbus, Ohio suburbs in the ’50s didn’t give a family of five much width room in the driveway. Had I been allowed to drive the car into the garage, my sister’s room would have been relocated.
Mom taught me to back up without using the rear view or side mirrors.
To prepare for backing up, mom would grasp the steering wheel with her left hand at 11 a.m., place her right arm on the top of the back of the front car seat, turn her head at a 125-degree angle, with her eyes almost at 180 degrees, and proceed to drive.
It was as if Mom’s face was facing forward, while her body was in reverse.
Kinda like flying backwards on those 1970s Pacific Southwest Airlines’ planes, but with your head facing the pilot.
Are you with me, or did I lose all of us at the last intersection?
My cousin Pat is the best backer-upper I have ever seen.
Ever since he was a single digit, small town Ozark accented kid, Pat could back up with the best of them.
Even at 7 years old.
Back on Norfolk Lake in Arkansas where driver’s licenses aren’t needed when your young son needs to get the trailer backed into the water before the storm hits.
Good backer uppers are a treat to watch.
Roy and Trigger used to back up real good.
Gene Autry and Champion did too, unless Gene was on the secret sauce.
In college, while employed at George Bedinger’s Liberty House, the first day that I was allowed to back our 14-foot company furniture truck out of the warehouse before the day’s deliveries, I ripped off both side mirrors.
I guess Mom never thought I would ever be driving a truck.
That same day I picked up a brand new double dresser incorrectly, enabling the wind to blow it to the pavement as we tried to load it onto the truck.
At least I think it was the wind.
Most likely, it was the law of physics.
Of course, what did I know back then? I was a pre-med major.