The Mile Corner

By Barbara Vander Werff

Not the exact car, but a good reminder of what everybody drove when this story took place…

In Randolph, Wisconsin, it was a rite of passage. You turn 16 and get your Driver’s License. Then you drive through town, make a right-hand turn at the stop sign, and when you hit the edge of the village limits, you step on it and head on out to the “mile corner.”

Any kid in Randolph knew about the ritual and when you were 16, it became part of your driving routine. The difference for me was that it changed my life.

It started with driving your parent’s car and on a weekend, you could see Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Fords, and Chevies making the trip to the Mile Corner and back. They were shiny from a wash on Saturday night and a gas tank filled with 25-cents-a-gallon gas at the full-service Phillips 66 gas station and a bottle of Coke.

This Sunday would be different. On my trip through town, after “Young People’s” at church, I noticed a motorcycle behind me at the stop sign. A flip of my hair, a move I learned from Margaret, who had a locker next to mine in High School and was much more experienced than I, and I made my right-hand turn. With one eye on the rear-view mirror, I saw the motorcycle and mysterious helmet was still behind me. The Mile Corner would be the true test. Surely, Dad’s Olds would leave a motorcycle in its dust.

When I stepped down on the gas and looked into the rear-view – all I saw was helmet! A U-turn at the four-way stop and I headed for home, only to be followed by the motorcycle, right into my driveway. After he removed his helmet, he looked familiar, although he didn’t go to my school. His grandfather had worked with my mom and used to entertain me by wiggling his ears.

And so it began. We dated through my senior year. He turned into my first love.

Now, graduating from high school, I had a decision to make. I had applied to several colleges both in-state and out-of-state, and been accepted to all of them. He had just finished technical school and had been offered a good job in town.

Barb’s High School Graduation portrait

At Graduation, he gave me a present in a very small box. This decision would change my life, my dreams, my path. This decision could fill my life with regret!

….to be continued…

©  2022 Barbara Vander Werff

Barbara Vander Werff grew up in Randolph, Wisconsin, before moving to Madison to go to college and work in health care at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. She did some technical writing for clinical textbooks in diagnostics, ultrasonography, and radiology management. Now retired, she is enjoying writing about life. Where have we ended up, and why?


About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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