Advertisement

January 31, 2010

'Grandma Jenkins, Race Car Driver'

Special thanks to J.R. Johnson for this week's illustration. To see more of his work, visit www.jaiar.com.

January 31, 2010|By Haitham Chehabi

Zoom! Zoom! Vroom! Vroom! oom! Zoom! Vroom! Vroom! Grandma Jenkins sped down the track in her banged-up old Chevy, glory galloping through her veins.

"You can't catch me now, fools!" she crowed.

And then, with a loud cackle, she pounced her way toward the finish line, howling with victory. The young men Grandma was racing against dipped their heads in shame and shuffled away.

"Beaten by a grandma," one of the men muttered, looking dazed.

"That's right, Cream Puff!" Granny said with a grin, slamming her rusty car door and shaking her beautiful white curls out of her helmet so that they shone in the sunlight.

The crowd roared like thunder with supersonic claps. They loved Grandma Jenkins. She was their favorite race car driver.

Grandma Jenkins hadn't always been a race car driver. Thirteen years ago, she had been a regular old granny, baking cookies in her retirement home, when one day she woke up and realized she was bored. "I'm going to be a race car driver," she said. "I want to go down in history."

And so, Granny moved from her quiet little retirement home in Carson City to the Las Vegas strip.

She booked a tiny room and took her old Stanley Steamer out into the desert to drive.

"Woo-hoo!" she yelled, careening around cactuses and crusty old animal skulls. "Perfect eyesight and the reflexes of a 20-year-old, that's what the doc said! And boy, was he right!"

Off in the distance, she spied a tiny speck. The closer she got, she could see it was a man. And then when she was almost on top of him, she could see he was an old codger with white hair. His arms were folded and he looked mad. Curious, she came to a screeching halt.

"Howdy, stranger! What are you doing out here all alone?" she asked.

"What am I doing? What do you think you're doing?" the wet blanket demanded.

"None of your business!" she retorted.

"But it is my business -- racing cars. They call me 'The Peregrine.' You can call me Perry. Seems to me, you need some lessons in driving safely. You want to keep on living, don't you?" He looked disgusted and Grandma Jenkins looked ashamed. She knew she should learn the rules about driving safely.

Peregrine taught her everything he knew. He made her wear a seat belt and helmet. But that was just the start. There were a lot of safety rules she had to learn too. After that, she started winning all those races. But then there was a problem: Grandma got bored again. Racing her car wasn't fun anymore. She needed a new dream -- but what?

She sped over to the retirement home in Carson City in her old Stanley Steamer and screeched to a stop. "Bill Drooler, get out here! I'm givin' you a race car driving lesson!" Drooley sprang into view, a beautiful smile in place, he was so glad to see her.

"I'm bored! I should never have retired!" he yelled.

"Drooley, you gotta get a new interest," Grandma said, handing him the wheel.

"What new interest?" Drooley sighed.

"You're in good shape. You'll probably live to be a hundred. No reason you can't start racing cars! That's what cars are for," Grandma said, smiling at her old friend. "Driving cars can get you movin' again."

"Oh, that's not for me," Drooley said.

"Racing will give you an adrenaline rush that will get your blood runnin' again, and pumping these pedals will uncreak your knee joints," Grandma said with a grin.

And, just as the Peregrine had taught her, Grandma Jenkins taught Drooley. As Grandma gave more and more of her friends lessons, her happiness bloomed, and the old felt young again.

The Stanley Steamer was invented in 1897 and was powered completely by water (steam). It was the first car manufactured in the U.S. To learn more, visit stanleymotorcarriage.com/.

Special thanks to J.R. Johnson for this week's illustration. To see more of his work, visit www.jaiar.com.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|