Posted on May 6, 2024
SGT Kevin Hughes
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I don't know why I am thinking about my Dad so much today. Partially it is due to all the wonderful comments you Brothers and Sisters posted on my Dad's words. And Partially, I think I have reached the age where I can look back and see just how much credit my Mom and Dad deserve...for things I took for granted. So here goes a family story. A story my Father never verified. Knowing him though, I think it was probably true.
My Dad was a very safe defensive driver. He taught every one of us to drive. When we went to Driver's Ed, the Instructors were always amazed at how we could drive so well. We didn't mention Dad. LOL

His rule was simple; keep passing grades in HS, and on your 16th Birthday, he would start you on your lessons. He would teach you to drive and automatic first, then borrow one of my Uncles trucks to teach you how to drive stick.

If, however you got bad grades, or you did something stupid while learning to drive, you had to wait for your next birthday to try again. He also was way ahead of his time, in that he taught my Mother to drive, and all of my Sisters, all of whom were older than me. A lot of my friends Mom's never did drive. Dad didn't believe in that.

So my sister turned 16. Straight A's. So on her birthday we all piled in the back of the car to go along for the lessons. Dad only allowed the Driver and himself in the front seat when teaching. All us kids would crowd in the backseat of those huge land yachts that passed as cars in the fifties. Sometimes as many as six of us would be back there huddled up. A car ride of any kind back then, was a treat. Cars were tools. You didn't play around with them. You used them when you needed them. No running up to the corner grocery for milk and bread.

And...if we didn't interfere with the lesson, or misbehave, after each lesson, we got ice cream for being good. So we were good as gold. So off we go for my Sister's driving lesson. All was going well...until.

A guy cut us off. My sister braked hard. Then the guy shifted lanes, and my Sister gunned it to catch up to the guy. He yelled some ugly things out his window and my sister flipped him off. Dad simply put one of his huge hands on the wheel, making my sister powerless to turn the wheel. (My Dad boxed in College and he could hold seven baseballs in his hand at one time!)

He turned the car off, slipped it into neutral, and we slid quietly into a Sears Parking lot. Once we stopped, my Sister was still mad.

"Dad, he cut us off. Then he called me names! He was wrong."

My Dad let her wind down a bit. Then he started with gentle questions:

"Honey, do you know anything about that man?"

"What? No, he was a stupid jerk."

My Dad listened to her, and continued talking in a soft tone.

"Do you know if he had a child sleeping in the back seat?"

My Sister hadn't thought about that. She grew a little quieter.

"No. Dad. I don't know."

Still talking soft, no anger in his voice at all, my Dad continued on:

"Do you know if he was a Combat Soldier from the War? And maybe he was having a rough day thinking back on something that happened during the war?"

Again my sister shook her head. I think she was starting to see my Dad's point.

"Do you know if his Wife, or child was in the hospital and he just got the call- and he is racing to the Emergency room hoping they are okay?"

Now my Sister started to cry.

"No. Dad."

"Do you know if he had a gun in the car? Maybe he was mad enough to shoot someone, or himself?"

Now the tears were falling from my Sister. And all of us in the backseat were dead quiet...and listening.

"So you never thought that you have your brothers and their friends in the back seat? And if he hit you with his car, or made you pull over, and got out to hurt you in some way...you had no way to protect them...or yourself."

Now she was bawling.

"I am so sorry, Dad. I was just so mad I didn't think. "

My Dad hugged her for a bit.

"Most people don't think when they are mad. That is why you have to think first. You have to wait till your next birthday. You are not ready to drive yet."

My Dad drove us home in dead silence. No ice cream. My Sister begged my Mom to interfere on her behalf. My Mom said:

"Your Dad said no. No it is. Just be ready when your next birthday rolls around."

You would think that was the end of the story. Nope.

Two days later, two Cops show up at our door. Back then, the Cops knew most of the people in their area. And because of how many kids were around then, they also knew you from bringing home lost children, or tuning your idiot son (almost always a son. My sisters never got into the crap we did.) over to you because they did something stupid. Why have the Courts handle it, when a session with your Dad could bring that behavior to a stop.

So the Cops were very respectful.

"Mr. Hughes, were you over on West 32 street last night around five thirty or so?"

My Dad nodded.

"What were you doing over there? Shouldn't you have been home eating supper?"

"I had to make a stop."

"For what?"

"I had to explain to a man that he was too immature to drive. He used his car as a weapon, and swore at my teenage daughter. There were children in our backseat. He put them in grave danger. "

"And what happened when you told him that?"

"He took a swing at me. I swung back. "

"Okay, that's what we thought. Next time though, when you swing back, don't put the guy in the Hospital, okay?"

The story in my Family (even though my Dad neither confirmed nor denied said actions) is that Dad got the guys license plate, had a buddy who found out where he lived. Then my Dad went to his house and told the guy that he shouldn't drive angry. The guy got angry. And my Dad taught him where that might lead.

My Sister got her license when she was seventeen.
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Responses: 3
CSM Chuck Stafford
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Heck of a story -- I'm sure it got better with age, but that's quite alright!
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SGT Kevin Hughes
SGT Kevin Hughes
1 mo
Thanks Top! Yeah, some of our family stories have reached mythical proportions now. LOL
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AN Ron Wright
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we had rules for our kids growing up. B average grades and a good attitude in OUR house. my son got his permit at 15 and drove everywhere for a year. when he turned 16 and went down and got his license. he was so excited. I put my hand out and took it away that day. that F on his report card dropped his grades below what he knew was expected of him. right in the middle of band season and they were coming home at 2-3 in the morning, it would have been great to let him go and certainly easier on my sleep .... but we set standards and refused to veer from them needless to say, his next report card was much better and he started driving again
lesson was learned raise your kids and hold them to your house rules
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SGT Unit Supply Specialist
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SGT Kevin Hughes your Dad was a wise man... good for him for standing fast with your sister... & standing up to that guy...
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SGT Kevin Hughes
SGT Kevin Hughes
1 mo
There was never much difference in my Dad's actions and speech. They were usually the same thing.
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SGT Unit Supply Specialist
SGT (Join to see)
1 mo
SGT Kevin Hughes - .

headed to prison... be back later tonight...
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