Here's another except from the book I'm writing on growing up in the 60s in Southern California. A million memories -- three or four not painful.
February brought with it my birthday. I turned 16. This is a bigger milestone for girls. Guys do not have Sweet Sixteen parties. But they do get their driver’s licenses!
Unless they fail the test. Happy birthday to me.
Parallel parking is what did me in. And almost hitting a guy. But more the parallel parking. I happen to have poor depth perception. I’ve learned to compensate but at the time getting into parking spaces or making turns were problematic. And it didn’t help that I took the test in my father’s Chevy Impala, a car that dwarfed the Batmobile.
So for several weeks I had to wait to re-take it and endure the humiliation of friends asking, “So how did it go?”
But this time I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. First, I would take the test in my mother’s 1960 Mercury Comet (a car that could fit in the Impala’s glove compartment). I planned on re-taking the test on a Monday so the day before I went to the DMV and practiced parallel parking. The test curb was checkerboarded so I figured out that when the left fin reached the second black square turn the wheel until I saw it line up with the fourth white square, etc.
It worked! Come Monday Dale Unser couldn’t have maneuvered into that space as well as me. That, coupled with the lack of pedestrians on my bumper I finally secured my coveted driver’s license.
Which meant I finally went out on a real first date. I asked Marcy Loudon. My criteria: they had to be pretty and they had to be sweet enough to dump me gently. Marcy said yes and that Saturday night I took her to the Corbin Theater on Ventura Blvd. to see one of the great date movies of all-time, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
My plan was to put my arm around her about halfway into the film. It was tough though finding just that right moment in the rape trial. I think I got up the courage and draped my arm around her just as Tom is shot to death while trying to escape from jail.
For a nightcap I took Marcy to Farrell’s Ice Cream parlor where we discussed the differences between the movie and the book and I had her home by midnight.
All girls had curfews then. Midnight was standard. The penalty for violation was usually grounding. Grounding was actually an effective deterrent back then – at least for the girls I dated. I’m sure my classmate who slept with her brother didn’t give a shit if she couldn’t go to the Spring Sing. But the girls I went out with always insisted on being home by twelve. And I choose to believe it’s because of that severe penalty.