Drew learns to drive

The following article first appeared in the Fall 2020 (VOLUME 38 NUMBER 3) issue of “Ojai MAGAZINE”. The magazine is published by the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. Photos provided by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.

LOOK BACK IN OJAI
with Drew Mashburn
Contributed on behalf of the
Ojai Valley Museum

Drew learns to drive

Sex did not happen for me at 15 years old, but the next best thing did.

Let me explain. Mom was pregnant with my second little sister and fourth sibling, Mindy. Mom was a shorty and her belly got so big that her short legs would no longer reach the pedals in our 1959 Ford station wagon. So, she asked me if I’d like to become the family driver when Dad was at work. It took me all of three whole seconds to exclaim “Yes!” Mom explained I was so close in age to being eligible for a Learner’s Permit (15 1/2 years), if the police spotted us, they’d assume I had a permit. Fine with this soon-to-be Roadmaster! Mira Monte Market, here I come!!!

I had driven back in my early years and by the time I mastered that tank-of-a-station-wagon, I had already had several sets of wheels.

My earliest ride was an old wooden whiskey crate mounted on large, spoked baby-carriage wheels. I was too young to remember it, but Dad made it for me after his return home from the Korean conflict in 1952. (We met each other for the first time when I was 7 months old.) No, Mom & Dad did not drink all that whiskey in order to get the crate.

It didn’t take long for me to upgrade my ride. Dad landed a job in the oil patch not long after his discharge from the Naval Reserves in 1952. He must have been making big money working up in that derrick because he and Mom scored me a brand-spanking-new, shiny red “RADIO SUPER” wagon with white rims and even hubcaps!

Later my parents moved from their W. Oak Street rental to the new home they purchased on E. Aliso Street. Dad must have been makin’ great coin to be able to buy a new home, but I was positive life was good when I received a super-sporty new tricycle on my first birthday. I rode the heck outta that baby until I was 6 years old.

Not only did I have my boss-bitchin’ tricycle, I also got a three-wheeled scooter for Christmas in 1953. Only 2 1/2 years old, and I had a red wagon, tricycle and a scooter in my wheels collection!

I moved up from my trike (that’s biker lingo) to a two-wheeler without even using no stinkin’ training wheels. That’s ’cause my teenage neighbor, Tommy Bugg, taught me to ride on his bicycle. E. Aliso Street was armor-coated with big chunks of gravel in it. Tommy held onto his bike while I pumped hard, then he’d let me go. After falling on that chunky asphalt and tearing the hide off my hands and knees, it only took me about six Bugg-pushes to figure out how to stay upright to save flesh.

My folks must have fallen on hard times. I had to ride an old clunker girl’s bicycle that must have been Mom’s until I was about 10 years old. Later my parents bought me an English 3-speed with a front basket big enough to carry a VW beetle.

I transitioned from leg-powered vehicles to a motorized mini-bike at 12 years old.

Eventually, I got legal and bagged my learner’s permit. I even parallel-parked that bomber-of-a-station-wagon on my first try and nabbed my driver’s license at 16 years old.


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