A trip across the brige

Published 6:18 pm Monday, May 2, 2022

It is only three miles to Chocowinity but in a day in the life of a teenager it seems like 30 miles.  That day was when we turned 16 and could get our driver’s license.  My mother took me and it seemed to be an hour-long trip across the bridge and past the Radio View Grill into Chocowinity.  There was only one stop light at that time, no Speedway or Burger King and certainly no by-pass around the town either.

There beside Chocowinity High School was a small brick building where the Highway Patrol was located.  Inside was Mr. Bill Deans, who would give you your written test, then the driving part if you were lucky enough to pass the written part.  He was always dressed in gray and the highway patrol outfit fit him to a tee.  He never smiled until you were on the road doing the driving portion and then he would crack his famous smile.

The exam portion seemed like a mid-term.  It had every question that was in the book and several that were not.  Luckily for me, drivers training had taught me some things that were in the book.  It had been since the summer that I finished drivers training under Coach Wagner.  So, it had been at least a year before we took a driver’s test.  I studied that little green book like never before and did not want to return to Washington failing.  Most of us passed the first time but it was a long road home if you did not.  Your friends all knew whether you passed or failed.

The road test was simple but mentally exhausting.  You had to make sure your blinkers were on and constantly looking in the rear view mirror.  Mr. Deans would take us to the Gray Road and make us perform a three-point turn and back out.  My sister-in-law Wendy, told me that he took the Chocowinity kids by the Singer Plant and then back to the Patrol station.  You could pass the exam and fail the driving portion of the exam and not get your license and several did so.

Once you passed and got your license it was back to Washington and then Mrs. Carver’s.  Most of us guys had dates that night and it seemed like you had finally reached manhood!  No more bicycles or double dating; you could drive to pick up your date and afterwards go to the Chuck Wagon like others older than you had done.  It was a sense of accomplishment that no one could take from you!

Nowadays, students take drivers training during school and have a temporary license but can only drive with their parents.  They will get plenty of practice like that and are safer than we were.  I still can see Mr. Deans in the gray highway patrol suit sitting in chairs and asking “have you studied your book “?  Yes, was my answer because I did not want to fail.  Still, it was the longest three miles I have ever ridden!

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The Original Washington!

Harold Jr.