My first car was given to me in 1973 by my Dad after I passed a summer Driver’s Ed class at Northeast High School, in St. Petersburg, Florida . It was a white Chevy with three on the column and a very tight clutch, which was challenging for a 5’, 98lb, 17 year old.
I drove to St. Pete Beach when the teenage angst became unbearable. I can still hear Deep Purple blaring from the eight-track. “Hush, hush, I think I hear her calling my name, now. Hush, hush, she broke my heart but I love her just the same, now. Nah, nah nah nah, nah nah nah, nah nah nah…”
One particular memory of that first ride still burns brightly. I had plans to go to Jerry’s Tavern one night. Jerry's Tavern used to be on 66th St. in St. Petersburg. It sounded like a good idea at the time. It turns out it wasn’t.
Back in the 70s, it was becoming less routine and therefore, more exciting each time a bar would let you in underage and without a fake ID. I was a regular at Jerry’s and had been going to bars for almost a year by then.
I don’t remember what happened at the bar, but I pray I never forget what happened after. I remember coming to when my car hit the median. I was jarred awake up when it hit the pole and desperately trying to sober up by the time the police arrived. There were colored lights, a white car bent around a light pole, lots of people and even more questions. I told the police I was tired, a half-truth; practice for my future career in alcoholism.
The police called my father who came to the scene. It was probably about 1:00 a.m.
I don’t remember much of the rest of the night or the years that followed. My father was a salesman and a pretty good one. I am sure he sold them a great story. Whether or not they bought it, I will never know, but I do know I did not get a ticket, the car was towed and I never saw it again.
I miss that car. I miss my innocence.