Friday, October 30, 2009

Driving ages

An article in Governing magazine discusses the age at which a youth should be accorded the rights of an adult. Drinking is 21 but you can enlist in the Army at 17 with a parent's signature when you become 18. I was just talking to a young man who just signed up to help Uncle Sam when he graduates high school. However, even the Army no longer allows under age privates to take a drink.

Driving ages vary from state to state. New Jersey has a rather complicated set of rules for setting down the road legally. Ruminating on this topic led me down memory lane and my trips to Texas as a twelve year old to visit with dear Mama's kinfolk.

I remember she set me out to play with my young female second cousins. One was thirteen and one was ten. "Y'all want to come for a ride, Yankee boy?" the older cousin yelled. First thing I knew I was aboard a 52 Chevy Impala and the thirteen year old was driving the three of us around the byways of rural East Texas. Soon we came to a gas station and we all emptied out nickels and pennies from our pockets and bought thirty five cents of gas. The younger cousin wanted to drive too, so, to be fair, her older sister let her take the wheel for the ten miles or so back home where chicken and hush puppies awaited us.

My mother explained to me that down in Texas kids drove all over but mostly stuck to country roads. They also shot quail, chewed tobacco, and drank corn liquor before they were fourteen. After reading the article in Governing I was curious if what I saw was routine or out of the ordinary. Please let me know if you grew up in a rural area and drove before you were twelve. I'm just curious.

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