Dana Miller’s recollections
Mom was a terrible driver…there’s no other way to put it. If you put Mom and Dad on a “driving ability” continuum, they would the two extremes.
One of my first recollections of just how much Mom detested driving is when I was no more than 12. She routinely had me drive, unaccompanied, the huge, boat-like 1957 Mercury Montclair down to Allen’s Market for groceries. It was widely agreed that Elmer Lauritzen (or was it Del Nebeker at the time?), the town marshal, would rather have an underage Miller child behind the wheel than Joyce.
Rinda remembers all the kids riding through Sardine Canyon with Mom at the wheel. She had all of us singing and praying that the last few vapors of gasoline would get us safely home. As luck would have it, we got pulled over by a young highway patrolman. His only comment was: “Mrs. Miller, I didn’t know that was you, sorry! I see you got a new car.” No ticket, no warning…
My substitute driving responsibilities weren’t limited to in-town only. One of the worst snowstorms I’ve every driven in was in 1963, when I was 12. We (Joyce, Marianne, Rinda and probably Gordon and Matt) were headed home from Salt Lake on old highway 89 near Lagoon, long before the freeway was built. Yes, I was behind the ’57 Merc’s wheel because Mom didn’t dare drive and there was no question we were safer in my hands!
I don’t know how many wrecks Mom had over the years but I do remember her doing more than her share of property and vehicle damage. She regularly drove into the irrigation ditch that passed beneath the driveway. Even the house itself wasn’t safe.
Since Mom occasionally parked the car on the front lawn or the east side of the house by the porch, sometimes she needed to back up to get the front of the car headed in the right direction. I still distinctly remember the sound of her ramming into the decorative ironwork supporting the porch. It’s a wonder the porch didn’t collapse. Then there was the time she ran into the front west corner of the house. She hit it so hard that it pushed the exterior wall into the living room!
She may well have been the original distracted driver. Her favorite driving pastime was “putting on her face.” I can clearly recall her scooted forward in the driver’s seat with her face about 4 inches from the rear view mirror, trying to put on her eye-liner or even plucking her eyebrows. How she ever made it safely to Logan is beyond me.