Iowa Driving: Cars and Cows – John J. Timmerman

bewarecowsA little Friday humor compliments of John J. Timmerman, professor emeritus of Calvin College, who wrote the following paragraphs in his memoir Through a Glass Lightly (Eerdmans, 1987). Here are his reflections on his father and mother’s car driving experiences while living in Grundy Center, Iowa.

In 1917 my father bought his first and only car for $800 -a Chevrolet. He was a gifted man, but driving a car was not his forte. Not that he didn’t prepare: he would don driving coat and hat, goggles, gauntlets. I also doubt whether a car was ever better groomed. He drove at a slow, steady pace, peering through the windshield as though he were Captain Ahab looking for whales. Occasionally he would drive it to a preaching engagement. A trip to Holland, four miles away, consumed about twenty minutes. One time the car stopped dead a mile from town, and he sent me for help. I got it: I went to three garages, and three rescue crews descended upon him.

A drive to Marshalltown, some thirty miles distant, became a major experience. What really finished my father off, though, was the drive to Wright, Iowa, where he was to serve for the summer. Rounding a little bend in the road, he ran squarely into a herd of cows. Since he drove slowly and applied his brakes vigorously, the damage was slight. But my future brother-in-law had to drive us home at the end of the summer. During that summer my mother thought that she could learn to drive it, and she decided to rehearse in the large pasture where we kept the cow that had been donated for our use. Mother took the wheel, with my brother-in-law beside her and my sister and I in the rear seat. Father watched from the fence gate. Cows are curious, and this cow began to approach the car. Mother, as though mesmerized, drove straight toward the cow, who went loping off – with the car in pursuit and my sister and I in gales of laughter in the back. Finally my brother-in-law stopped the car. My mother had had it. After we returned, my father sold the car. For the balance of his career he walked, took the bus, or used paid help to visit the sick (12-13).

Published in: on April 17, 2015 at 6:22 AM  Leave a Comment  
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