It was the summer of ’75. I was just finishing up my sophomore year of high school. I had somehow managed to survive another school year without flunking anything, thus pretty much keeping my parents off my case. So, the world was looking bright…’cause I was getting my driver’s license later that month!
Over the past year, as more and more of my friends had gotten their license, I learned just what kind of freedom that meant. Sure I had spent the last year or so riding my bike from the hospital all the way over to Joey’s house on Williams Circle but this… this would be the ticket to be out later and going places on my own. I’d be able to cruise the town… hang out at the Circle Drive In… which is another story for another day! Even though I didn’t have my own car, I felt confident that my parents would let me use one of theirs some times as long as I didn’t act like a complete jerk.
I went out to the DMV on 17 south; waiting for my turn to drive; pulled out of the lot heading back toward Elizabeth City, right on Church Street and then left on Meekins Street, right behind the Masonic Lodge, just like everyone had told me it would go. I executed the mandatory 3 point turn and then returned to the DMV office. I now had my license!
So I drive back home and my dad takes the car and heads back to work. This isn’t at all like I had planned it! I was so bummed by it all. Who knows what I did the rest of the day… sitting around the house with my new drivers license. Everyone comes home from work and we have dinner and my dad ask if I’d like to borrow the car… to go for a drive. I jumped at it.
I climbed behind the wheel of that 1972 Chevy Malibu Sport, yellow with a black vinyl roof and popped in an 8 track tape of the Eagles and headed out on the adventure of my life! I can tell you all of the places I went that night… alone. I thought about trying to get up with someone but found the freedom way too intoxicating to share… the windows down, the music blaring way too loud…freedom never felt so good before…. and I wondered how it could possibly feel any better in the future….
Over the next two years, people all over town recognize me in that car… I guess they did since I would drive 300 miles a weekend and never leave Pasquotank County. I use to pick Joey up on Friday nights and we would pop in the latest 8-track we had gotten and drive all night long on $5 worth of gas. Park at the Circle for a while (this was back when there wasn’t a paved parking lot and we would kinda pile the cars in there anyway we could)… swing by WaterFront Park… just cruise the entire county. .. while the car comfortably seated six there were times that we might have 10 people in there at once.. riding out through the countryside looking for ghost or some other foolishness.. or maybe just head on back to the waste treatment plant to hang out… interesting place for sure.
There is no doubt that there will be more stories to be told about all of these places… but for now, I think I just want to jump in the car…. alone… pop in a CD from back in day, put the windows down…. and just enjoy the wonderful smell of freedom!