I Think Being a Teenager Today would be Tough
At the risk of sounding like my father?. I don?t understand teenagers today.
I don?t get rap music and baggy pants; I don?t get smart phones (I mean I really don?t get smart phones); and I don?t get Twitter or Facebook either. Honestly, I don?t get the whole idea of social media (in fact, this is the first blog I've ever written!) But what I really don?t understand is why some teenagers wait years after they turn 16 to get a driver?s license.
I've heard different reports from a few different sources all saying about the same thing: less than half the teens in America get their license within a year of becoming eligible to drive. I was talking to a friend of mine several years ago who has a teenage son, and he told me his son wasn't interested in getting his license because he couldn't afford a car or the gas to put in it. He also wasn't in a hurry; he could bum a ride from his friends (who he stayed in touch with via text messages and Facebook) or his mom; and anyway he was too busy playing video games online with his friends halfway around the world (and they probably didn't have their licenses either).
I grew up in the mid 1970?s and my freedom was in the form of a driver?s license. I couldn't wait to get it- the day I turned 16 my mom took me to the license bureau to get my temps. I took driver?s ed in High School and it was the longest 9 weeks of my life! But I finally took my road test in my mom?s Great American Land Yacht- a 1969 Pontiac Catalina- and I passed on my first attempt! Now I was really cool. I wanted to do everything- cruise Main Street on a Saturday night, go on a date at the drive in movies with the head cheerleader (hey, a guy can dream) and just hang around at the hot spots with my other cool friends. Every chance I got, I?d borrow my mom?s Catalina to cruise with my friends. When I was feeling really brave I?d sneak my older brother?s ?68 Cougar RX7-G out of the garage. As a 16-year-old kid, there was no better high than driving a fast, cool car. It got you noticed and made you somebody.
Then reality set in. My brother graduated high school and needed his car to get to his 9- to-5 job, and Mom needed her car too, so it was back to riding the school bus (how embarrassing!) I did the only logical thing I could think of- I got a part time job after school and began saving for my own car. By the second semester of my senior year I had enough money to start looking for a good, used muscle car. After a few weeks of looking in the local paper (no internet) and searching the car lots, I spotted the car that would spark my lifelong passion?. a 1969 Pontiac GTO. The motor, interior and black vinyl top were in mint condition for an 8 year old car, but the red paint was faded and had a little surface rust. After a test drive I was hooked, but sticker-shock set in when the salesman told me they wanted $999 for the car. After about 20 minutes of shrewd negotiating, it was mine for $750! (hey, that was a lot of money back then!). I drove it off the lot and straight to the nearest Macco for a $125 paint job. Now I was back to being one of those cool kids who got noticed as I cruised Main Street on a Saturday night.
My generation didn't grow up with Facebook, Twitter or smart phones. Our ?social media? was a parking lot near the school where, on a usual Friday night one guy would pull in, and then another, and before long 20 or more cars full of people would be gathered. Then we would decide what to do and where to go.
Sure I only paid $750 for an 8 year old GTO compared to the $15,000 it would cost for a 2005 GTO today, and of course a gallon of 100 octane premium gas was about fifty cents. But remember, I was only making $2.30 an hour (minimum wage in 1976).
In order for the American car culture to survive we need to encourage the next generation to pick up the torch and get involved with a classic car. As parents, and even grandparents, we need to tell our kids to put down the cell phone, walk away from their computers, and take them with us to a car show or a cruise night. Teach them how to rebuild a carburetor (and teach them what one is). Get them interested in our hobby! Your passion for cars can become their passion too.
I only owned that 69 GTO for about 2 years, but 34 years and dozens of ?cool cars? later, the memories of that old goat have stayed with me for the long haul.
08/28/13 at 05:48:47 PM
by Megan |