1962 Driving a Truck on the Road Starts Usually with a Licence.

As I said above, we lived at Southport which was just a country town in the early 60’s. I had been driving various cars around for years – but not in the main street. A mate and I drove from Southport to Mount Isa one Xmas holidays in my Landrover for a month kangaroo shooting when I was still 15. He was older (16).

In those days you did not need even a birth certificate, the police assumed you told them the truth, so I put my age up a year and went for my licence on my “17th” birthday.

I am sure the sergeant had seen me driving, perhaps the fact I arrived for my licence test, unaccompanied, in my mother’s Triumph Herald may have led to this assumption.

Constable Jamesen hopped in beside me and said “Take me to the dry cleaners.” We then drove out of the main street on to the Broadwater highway just as a woman flashed by at excessive speed.

“Follow that car!”

I thought it was a trick. I began slowly, doing hand-signals as well as using blinkers – this was the changeover period when blinkers replaced hand signals officially.

“Stop all that bloody arm flapping. Follow that car!”

We caught up to the woman with the copper saying “Faster, faster” and he had me pull out beside her and toot while he waved his police hat and flagged her down. The driver adopted the standard woman’s attitude when she won’t let you in to a line of traffic and stared straight ahead.

“Get in front of her”

Now this was a bit of a revelation. I am sure I am the only person in history to be in a high speed police pursuit on his driving test. As we were in a Triumph Herald I suppose “high speed” is relative.

Anyhow we eventually stopped her in the middle of Surfers Paradise. The cop got out and said he would be there for some time and ask Sergeant Cook to send a car for him. “Oh, and by the way, tell him you passed.”

I went back and the Sergeant asked how it went, I told him the story and without further comment he wrote out my licence.

Six months later I took the 1948 Ford 3 ton tow truck from the old man’s dealership to get a truck licence. Sergeant Cook himself took the test. Now, those Fords had a terrible, rough crash gearbox which I had not quite mastered. So as we drove around Southport I went smoothly up through the gears knowing I could not get back down without crunching. Timing my run to traffic lights I let the old Ford slow to nothing then stagger away in top gear.

Sgt Cook said ‘OK, I will give you your licence but I won’t let you drive my truck!”

There is a silver lining to the story. When I started going out with my now wife of 52 years, she told me later, that she had taken a look at my wallet and saw on my licence that I was 6 months older than her. She said she would have had a hard think about getting tied up with a mere youth actually 6 months younger than her had she known my real age!