Research Thoughts

Women Drivers

This archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” was first published 13 Sep 2013.

I heard on the news the other day that women drivers now outnumber male drivers. This got me to thinking “How long have I been driving?” and so the mental math began, 50 minus 15… 35 years! I can easily document the years, but wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to document the miles? Miles driven in cars from my early stick shift days with no air conditioning and AM radio, to my now 10-year-old Mountaineer with lots of bells and whistles.

This news was also the push I needed to write this blog post that I have had noodling around in my mind for a while. A blog post about a car. A 2000 Mercury Sable. A blog post about its first owner, Marie Fassbender.

It starts in the year 1947. When Marie was in the hospital, having just given birth to her first child, she received her first driver’s license. And I do mean that; she received her license. It was at that point that her husband, Butch, decided that she needed to drive. So he headed to the town hall to get her one. Stating his intent to the city clerk, the response was: “Well, she’s a Fassbender so she must know how to drive.” And he handed over the license. 

Jump forward to November 2000. Butch had been in the home for almost two years when the decision was made that it was time to get rid of the problematic New Yorker that Marie had been driving to and from, first the hospital, and then the nursing home. Her son, Gary, had been looking at cars for himself and noticed the Sable on the car lot. It had all of the luxuries that his mother had always loved about driving Butch’s Lincoln Town Cars, but without the size. One added feature that we felt was important for this 5’2″ (-ish) petite woman, was the adjustable foot pedals. She would no longer need to sit so close to the steering wheel but could sit at a comfortable distance and bring the brake and accelerator to her.

One bright day, I picked up the car, collected Butch and Marie from the nursing home, and we went for a “test drive.” Butch sat in the back seat and gave his full approval of our choice of the new car. 

Marie proudly drove this car until she went to live in a nursing home in June 2008. Later that summer as her granddaughter prepared to start her sophomore year at Edgewood in Madison, Gary made the arrangements for Kate to have the car and use it to go back and forth to school. Kate drove the car for the next three years, two of them heading back and forth on sometimes treacherous winter roads. The car never failed her, and is now being driven back and forth to college by yet another Fassbender granddaughter. Butch would certainly approve of the lifespan of his last car purchase.

One of the only images I have of the car. It had just been released from a snowbank and was being pushed toward the garage.
Need to find the source for this one.
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