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05/31/21 10:30 AM #283    

Kerrin Anne Kinsey (Sgourakis)

Absolutely.  Never forget their sacrifice for our freedom. 

06/16/21 02:00 PM #284    


Mark Wieting

I've been reading the comics for a long time. There are old favorites like "Blondie" and newer ones that also hit home like "Zits," and, especially, "Pickles." Then there are ones I often simply don't get, notably "Frazz." The often sick but often funny "Wumo" counterbalances the tamer and equally funny "Sherman's Lagoon." Nothing wrong with a shark being a shark and occasionally eating a "hairy beach ape" like you or me.

So what's the point of this entry? A recent series in the comic strip "For Better or Worse" hit home. Mike, who's been yearning for his 16th birthday so he can finally get his driver's license, finally makes 16 and, having taken driver's ed and possessing the supreme confidence that ignorance can bring, heads off to the DMV to take his road test already knowing he'll come back with his license. His examiner has a fixed sneer on his face and is not about to make it easy on Mike. Worse, Mike's girlfriend just that morning has told him she's smitten with another guy and they are done. Thoughts of her creep into his mind as he tries to parallel park and perform other parts of the test. He fails. He's reluctant to go home and admit that he's failed. How is he going to tell his dad that he failed when he gets home from work? How embarrassing! He'd been so confident!

Next scene: dad returns home from work and says, "How'd it go today? You know, I failed my first time!" Like Alka-Seltzer at the right time, oh what a relief it is for Mike to hear that.

When we were 16, I remember some discussion about the best place to take your test and I believe the two choices were Lombard [on Westmore, where the DMV is now??] or Itasca, and the consensus was that Itasca was "easier."

Itasca, June 1961: I fail the first time, too. The common wisdom in those days was that the examiners were harder on the boys, failing almost all of them, while passing most of the girls, who being more sensible than 16-year-old boys, were much less likely to speed or "lay patches." Or drag race [Morgan are you listening?].  So a failure on first try was not complete ignominy.

July 1961: the stakes are higher because if I fail a second time, my entire life will be riding on the third try. Fail that and my life would essentially be over because I'd have to wait 6 MORE MONTHS for the fourth try. It would be 1962 by the time I could drive and I'd be the last in the class to be able to ask my parents to borrow the car.

I fail again. The key moment was when I was asked to pull to the side of the road and stop, to make sure I got entirely off the road and to test whether I would a activate my turn signal before I reentered the roadway. Problem: the shoulder of the road was gravel, and my mother's car was stick shift. Releasing the clutch at a fairly fast rate of speed, I spun the tires on the gravel shoulder. "Whoa, boy! You're not planting potatoes!" the examiner basically shouted at me. Done. Done. Done.

Later in July 1961, with much more practice behind the wheel, especially on gravel, I pass and I don't remember anything about that test except for the fact that I passed.

So I'm wondering, since almost all of you have passed your driver's test, what are your memories?

06/17/21 07:25 AM #285    


Mary Lou Schmidt (Brunner)

Hi Mark. I too went to Itasca for my test. I had 27 points against me-all for not making correct left turns.  If you had 30 points, you failed. I didn't make a sharp turn. The thing I most remember tho was when the examiner told me that somewhere during the test he was going to tell me to suddenly stop and I should stop no, matter wher we were. I was driving down the street and he suddenly said "stop". I slammed on the brakes so hard that he almost hit the windshield and all his paperwork fell on the floor.  He was very surprised and said I had good reflexes.

06/17/21 11:01 AM #286    


Thomas L. Bakos

I have absolutely no recollection of my driving test or how many times it may have taken.  Our son's story is pretty good though.  He got his license (in NY) and was coming home from a date shortly thereafter.  He got caught in a speed trap (I'm speculating).and got a speding ticket. As a result, in NY, his licenses as a new driver was suspended for six months.  He claimed he was driving an unfamiliar car.  I said any car he would be driving would have been unfamiliar.  That's why they put speedometers in them. 

In six months he was driving a little wiser. 

But as for cartoons.  I saved this one.

Those were the days - we thought, perhaps, nothing could change and it turned out anything could.





06/17/21 01:35 PM #287    

Kerrin Anne Kinsey (Sgourakis)

I came to G.E. in my Junior year from VA.  We could get a license there at 15 (in the olden days), but I didn't have anyone to teach me.  When I got to G.E. I was too young to sign up and in my Sr. year, couldn't.  So, to make a long story short, I didn't bother.  Just used public transportation ... especially the train.  Finally, got my license when I was 23.  Took lessons from a Driving School.  3 lessons and I got my license on the first try.


06/17/21 05:27 PM #288    


Don Comfort

I passed on my first attempt, but when I landed in California, I failed for not turning left in a left turn lane. I guess rules were different then.

06/17/21 06:25 PM #289    

Bruce F. Burianek

I took 2 tries in Ill only one in Calif. and once for my international one in the Phillippines.

06/17/21 08:20 PM #290    


William Gibson Heller

Funny that this topic should come up.  Last Friday at my favorite coffee shop a former neighbor came in and we fell to talking.  His daughter just finished her freshman year in college (sorry to offend, some colleges have declared names like freshman, junior, etc. to be discriminatory or white power related or something).  Anyway, we reflected on what a liberating and fantastic experience it was for us to gain a drivers license.  I told him about the Itaska preference for Lombard kids.  He noted it is the same now for Marion kids....Hartford City being the site of choice.  What is different now vs.then is the degree of ambition for getting that license. It just ain't a big deal now.  The kids are completely accustomed to being driven by parents school, to sporting events, etc.  The kids have come to see parents as Uber drivers (no Ubers in Marion, however) available at their beck and call and allowing them to listen to their phone music or play games while being pampered.  Thus there is no urgency to gain transportation freedom. 

Schools no longer offer driver's ed as we had available, it is a private marketplace now though many teachers still  do it during the summers.  I recall Harry Ryan as my instructor, maybe most of you had him too.  He must have taught me well as I passed on first try, in Itaska. After a 4 year renewal in October, the next time will require a test again!

06/17/21 10:38 PM #291    

Bruce F. Burianek

When I renewed my Washington Lic last time I had to go to the DMV just so they could give me a eye exam.  The two times before that I renewed on line.

06/18/21 10:32 AM #292    

Ethel (Jean) Snyder (Riskus)

I failed my first test.  The reason, I believe, was because of the person giving the driving test.  Well, actually me, but if it was someone else I might have passed.  As far as I know, I did everything right.  At least he didn't criticize anything I did.  My downfall was parking at the DMV when the test was done.  The guy was, let's just say, large.  I parked too close to the car next to me, and he had to extend great effort to get out of the car.  He didn't look pleased.  I passed the second test.  When I moved to Wisconsin I got my license just by taking the eye test.

06/18/21 11:11 PM #293    

Paul Lewellyn Chouinard

I don't recall taking my driver's license test, but I do have my license. Apparently it was not a traumatic experience for me, or I would have a better recollection.  I do believe I also had Harry Ryan for drover's ed.

06/19/21 12:32 PM #294    

Gerard 'Bud' Melto

In November, days after my 16th I failed my first test.  Memorable moment was when the tester said to me: "Can you speed it up to 20 miles per hour."  I was very tentative.     A couple of days later  tried again and somehow passed.  That first night I drove solo for the first time.  A date with Marcia Riedel.  Since I was one of the youngest in the class dating up to that point meant needing friends who drove to let us double date.  I was excited to be on our own.   At the end of the very enjoyable evening I was driving south on Main Street past Glendbard and hit some ice and the car began to slip.  I slamed on my breaks and did a one and a half 360 degree spin accross the oncoming lane. It was late and, thankfkully, luckily  no traffic.  I  realized I could have died on the first day of having a license...and also thought what  a mistake somweone made givivg me a license! to drive.

06/20/21 07:28 AM #295    

Susan Ann Harrington (Hauke)

My dad took me for my license on my 16th birthday and I passed. At the time we had an old black Cadillac that kind of looked like a hearse. When we got home my dad said I could have the car for the day. I was scared to death to drive alone but wanted to see a friend who lived in Glen Ellen so took every back road possible to avoid Roosevelt road. I will never forget that day!

06/20/21 11:27 AM #296    


Mark Wieting

Bill Heller, things must be different in Indiana--I bet they are in innumerable ways. One would be your conversation with the other Hoosier, about the lack of driver's ed in local schools and the lack of desire to drive by teenagers. I checked the Glenbard West student handbook ["The Keys to the Castle"--urp] and driver's ed is a requirement for graduation, whether taken at school or taken from a private company. I often used to see [pre-COVID] driver's ed cars on the mean streets of Glen Ellyn. Also, when I drive by Glenbard East during the school year in normal times, the entire student parking lot is full, cars line the south side of Wilson Rd all the way to Finley and some are parked at the city park on the northwest corner of Finley and Wilson. Lotsa cars.

A note to Mary Lou Brunner: commanding you to stop urgently seems odd in a driver's test but you showed him the error of his ways. And because he nearly hit the windshield I take it the examiner WAS NOT WEARING HIS SEAT BELT. Probably your car didn't have them, right? And certainly no shoulder belt. Wikipedia tells me that seat belts began to appear in cars in the late 50s but enforcement of laws requiring them didn't happen until the 80s. I wonder where are the people now who protested that those safety belt laws were an infringement of their personal liberties. Buckling up, I bet.

Thanks to the rest of you who shared memories of this important rite of passage. By the way the student handbook [it's like 100 pages of dos, don'ts and advice] mentioned above includes this on Dances:


Like to dance? You will get many opportunities this year to show off your favorite steps and meet new friends at this very popular activity at Glenbard West. Dances begin with the "Back-to-School" dance in August and additional dances/activities throughout the year. The Homecoming Dance, Heart Hop and Prom are all semi-formal dances. The year ends with the Junior-Senior Prom in April. Glenbard West students may bring guests to dances with pre-approval from the Dean or Assistant Principal for Student Services. Students MUST have IDs to enter dances where tickets are purchased at the door. Students should understand that even though dances are held outside of the normal school day, all school rules apply; particularly those relating to drug/alcohol use or possession.

1. Most dances are open to Glenbard West students only. A Glenbard West student may obtain permission to bring a guest to an approved dance by receiving advanced approval from his/her Dean or Assistant Principal for Student Services. The guest must abide by all school rules. Any guest may be denied attendance at any dance per the discretion of the Dean. All guests to any dance must be at least high school age (under 21) and complete a “Dance Guest Form.”

2 . Students must arrive no later than one hour after the dance has started. For most dances this would mean 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM. Students CANNOT leave a dance until one hour before the dance ends.

[Mark again] So you people who dated kids from other schools now would have to get approval from the Dean and your date would have to fill out the proper form. And, even if the band or DJ was terrible, you'd have to stay until one hour before the end of the dance.

06/20/21 05:46 PM #297    

Dale Hahne

More exciting to me would be remembering how it felt to turn 21.....not 16.  Although I was driving on Lombard streets for a few years before I turned 16 and I was drinking in local taverns for a few years prior to being of legal age, so there is a similarity.  I had a car at 14 and would sneak it out whenever I got a chance.  I had to drive perfectly so as not to draw any attention from our police.......(remember the lilac colored squads and uniform shirts?).  Due to that caution, I passed the test at Eastgate Mall on the first try.  I took driver's ed (Ryan) AFTER having been issued a DL because I would then be granted a 10% insurance premium. discount from State Farm.  It pissed off Mr. Ryan because I was, perhaps, taking up a slot in the driver's ed class that might have been used by someone who  actually needed it.  He was brutal to me, but I had my license already so there was not much he could do 

Now, let's hear about turning 21.  I had an Army Intelligence Corps interview at 0800 the day after I turned 21.  I had a few drinks at Otto's in the afternoon and made it to some other places with the help of some of my ne'er do well friends.  We ended up in Elgin because they had licenses to serve up to 4;00 AM.  They dumped me on a Chicago and NorthWestern train in Lombard at 5:30 and I actually made the appointment.  I was in fear that I would not make the best first impression so I apologized to the panel for the way I may appear to them and explained my birthday activities.  To a panelist, they thought that just making it to the appointment was impressive and after a few more questions, gave me the position.  Now, if I have a beer, I need a nap.

06/20/21 06:14 PM #298    


William Gibson Heller

Good story, Dale.  I have none to tell....I don't remember 21.  Though being in a fraternity it most certainly involved killing off a few brain cells.

06/20/21 06:40 PM #299    

Bruce F. Burianek

I turned 21 onj a ship anchored off Gitmo Cuba, it was a sober party.

06/21/21 07:44 AM #300    


Mary Lou Schmidt (Brunner)

Responding to Mark's comment about seat belts, our car did not have seat belts. It was a 1959 chevy and at that time seat belts weren't required. My thinking was that the examiner wanted to see how fast I could stop in case of an emergency.

Regarding turning 21, I don't remember that birthday. By the time I turned 21, I was married and if we needed liquor either my patents or Bill's parents would buy is for us. I was actually "carded" more after turning 21 than before.


06/21/21 06:10 PM #301    

Thomas Kent Marquardt

I had the same experience with the Driver's License Examiner asking me to slam on the brake when he told me to.  I was at Itasca because of it's reputation and I was fortunate to have my brother's Ford Thunderbird to take the test in as it was appropriately displaying numerous decals from a variety of Law Enforcement agencies.  The examiner also was close to be impaled in the windshield.  I took the license the day after my 16th birthday which I thought was an appropriate time to wait.  Got my license and never looked back.  My motto was and still is, "if it burns gas I have either owned it or want to own it."




06/21/21 06:13 PM #302    

Thomas Kent Marquardt

My 21st birthday came after I moved to Washington, D. C..  My only memory was that a friend of mine from Lombard, that had moved to WDC a few months before me, purchased a rum cake to celebrate and I quickly learned that it was more rum than cake.  Sorry about the two postings, but remember I don't know how phones work, so computers can baffle me.   

06/22/21 02:09 PM #303    

Kerrin Anne Kinsey (Sgourakis)

Reminisching about my 21st birthday,  My dad and mom took my husband and I and my older brother and his wife to the Sabre Room in Hickory Hills for dinner and show.  I still have the photo.

06/28/21 07:45 AM #304    

Wt Kennedy (Kennedy)

Not much of a drivers license test story to tell since I got lucky and passed on the first try, but I do have an interesting turning 21 story that entails a really bad hangover and the worst sunburn I have ever experienced.


I was enroute to my fraternity's national leadership conference at the University of South Carolina on the eve of my 21st birthday  and was invited by some of the local  chapters brothers to spend a few days at a beach house in Myrtle Beach.


When the brothers learned that I was turning 21 the next day they dared my to do the "Walk"  The "Walk" was a local rite of passage involving chugging a beer at each of  bars along the Myrtle Beach boardwalk.  Of course, being a gullible idiot , I said yes.  I don't know how many beers  that I consumed but awoke face up on the beach mid-morning the next day with a terrible hangover and sunburn so bad that I still wince thinking about it today. I am pretty sure that even  my tongue was sunburned. 


It would be nice to think that this lunatic behavior was a one  off, but frankly  my  fraternity days antics made the plot lines in the fraternity from the movie "Animal House" look like it was a film about a nunnery.  It is a wonder I have any functioning brain cells left. 


Oh, almost forgot the most hilarious part of the story. At that time, the drinking age for beer and wine in Myrtle Beach was 18. So, I celebrated  my 21st birthday in a place where the drinking age was 18.. 

07/24/21 07:01 PM #305    

Thomas Kent Marquardt

Hey there GE Rams and Ramettes:  There will be a celebration of life for Jim Lagocki on August 21st at 11:00AM at the Hillside Lutheran Village, 6900 N Galena Road, Peoria, IL.  This is where Jan is living.  Following the celebration of life there will be a luncheon at the facility.  If you are planning to attend, you should let Jan's sister, Donna Cleveland Yarosh know so they can plan for the event.  She can be reached at (608) 345-3316.  


07/25/21 06:52 AM #306    

Thomas Kent Marquardt

Update - the celebration of life for Jim Lagocki will still be at the same location, however it will now take place on Sunday, 08/22/2021 at 11:30AM.  If you are planning to attend, please notify Jan's sister as in my previous post.

07/25/21 10:35 PM #307    


Camilla Ray (Farley)

Although, I drove around Europe in a VW beetle at age 19 &20, I did not get my driver license until I was 27. I lived in Minneapolis & went everywhere by bike- even with my first little boy in his ( very unsafe) seat behind me!

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