Conducting Protective Driving Programs in the 70’s and early 80’s

ed-devlin-1

Introduction ­

This is an article from ISDA, and Quarter Century Club (QCC) (actually much closer to Half Century) member, Ed Devlin. Back in the early 70’s and 80s, Ed was one of the first Scotti School instructors. A Quarter Century back (1990) Ed was in Saudi, conducting a training program when the first Gulf War broke out.

The Article

Memories from “The Early Years at SSDD” (The Scotti School) by an esteemed member of The Quarter Century Club who shall remain anonymous (Ed Devlin)

Let us begin with a wee bit of honesty:

  • What follows are memories and , as such, are subject to the exaggerations and accuracy of age.
  • HALF CENTURY CLUB would probably be slightly more accurate ­ actually much more accurate. Some of the “vintage” members are a little age sensitive.
  • The early days were obviously quite different than today. We were the pioneers, ­ really!

ed-devlin-2At our first few schools we had no storage, so everything we owned was stored in the trunks of the vehicles: hydraulic jack (lightweight easy to lift – yeah, ­right), other various jacks, tires (mounted and unmounted), cones(various sizes), jumper cables, fluids (brake,power steering, transmission,wiper,etc.), first aid kit,radios (cb’s, handheld and batteries), hand cleaner, rain gear, a plethora of rags, wrenches, tire irons and various instructors’ favorite garbage.Inside the vehicle itself ­ the important stuff: class list, radar gun, stop watch, score sheets, pens,manuals (student and instructor). ALL OF WHICH HAD TO BE UNLOADED AT THE START OF THE DAY AND RETURNED AT THE END OF THE DAY. IT WAS FUN! OBVIOUSLY!

The “assistant” (Me) instructor was tasked with responsibility for all of the above, PLUS SEEING TO IT THAT THE CARS WERE CLEAN INSIDE AND OUT while the “LEAD” instructor (Tony) was in charge of the difficult task of greeting the students, making introductions and starting the class (MOST COMMONLY IN AN AIR CONDITIONED, comfortable ROOM!)

NOTE well: NO iPhones, laptops, GPS systems, etc. (perhaps a handheld calculator). If the radar gun went down ­ get the TIME, use the known distance, get approximate speed and proceed. “PANIC IS THE ABSENCE OF TRAINING!” Speaking of radar “gun” NEVER, EVER use the term radar gun when checking through customs in another country, NEVER, ­EVER! (Most custom people in third world countries don’t know what “Radar” means, but you can rest assure they know the word “Gun”.)

Eventually a new van arrived and the change was nothing short of wonderful. All we had to do was keep things in some kind of order. Oh well ­ so much for wonderful!

Our home base was The Thompson Speedway in northeastern Connecticut, a truly great facility in an appropriate location for the nature of our mission. The property included an 18 hole golf course with accompanying restaurant where you could order the Raceway Special. You could order it anyway you liked ­raw to whatever ­ but it would always come WELL DONE! The food was actually quite good and the entire staff as fine as one could find. More importantly, a 5/8th mile oval and a well-maintained road course made for a great driving range.

As a member of the HALF… er Quarter Century Club I could continue with more tall tales, but will save those for another time.

Allow me to conclude with two final comments:

First: what made the school in the early days (and continues today with VDI) is its people.Four ladies of the early days, without whom the rest of us would have been lost come first. Judy, Brenda, Jean and Joan kept us organized and made our lives so much easier. Enough cannot be said about each of them. If I may be allowed one more anecdote: Judy would occasionally transport us to or from the airport for a mobile training program. The brief anecdote is this ­ for Judy, the gas pedal was an On or Off switch! Every ride was an adventure. Enough said! The other people were the “early”? Instructors. They were all a rare group of men. Frank, Sandy, Charlie, Eddie, Bobby and later Dave were mentors and colleagues who simply made it all a pleasure to work with.

Second: what also made us what we were and continue to be was the understanding students were left with at the end of each program. They learned WHAT was happening to them and their vehicle through the experience of the particular hands-­on exercises, but just as importantly WHY it was happening. This was reflected over and over again by so many students at the conclusion of a school.

Well, enough “memories” for one occasion. Drive safely and stay secure.

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