WASHINGTON — While many of you have been lamenting driving 45 or less through the ongoing construction work on U.S. 50 for I-69, those moments have often taken me back to the days of learning to drive.
Tall embankments of dirt that left U.S. 50 feeling more like the bottom of an uncovered tunnel, took me back to the days of driving on temporary roads made for the convenience of strip mines in Pike County.
Those embankments even had some darker looking shale along their sides. It was almost enough to make me feel as though the highway cranes were actually large mining shovels with buckets big enough to scoop entire city blocks of dirt with each bucket.
My father taught me early that if you knew the general direction you were traveling, you could find you way back to where you wanted to go no matter what type of road you were traveling.
He often made those points while driving on county roads in a 1961 Ford Falcon turned into a truck that eventually became the Ranchero line. I’m not certain if that vehicle, which we used at the family’s hardware store, was an actual Ranchero, but it certainly was a Ford Falcon all the way down to its vacuum wiper blades.
We would travel out to the country, and after a certain time, I became the navigator in training. It was my job to pay attention to where we had been, where we were attempting to go, and generally speaking, how to get there.
Part of those trips would be through gravel roads constructed by the strip mines. That was fairly easy because there weren’t that many choices. All the same, it was good training.
Those roads also provided my first driving experiences. It was really racy for a 14-, or so, year-old to be driving the old six-cylinder with three on the column down those roads.