Driving with Susy

Susy’s family lived on our block,  just a few houses away,  and our parents were close friends.  In my mind’s eye I can still see our mothers sitting together in our kitchen,  me watching in fascination as Susy’s mom twisted the string around her teabag to get the last drop of flavor.

And I remember calling for Susy after school and we’d roller skate together for hours around and around the block.

And I remember running down to their house early one morning to tell them my baby sister was born,  and discovering the date was Susy’s dad’s birthday as well.

A decade or so later I danced with her dad at Susy’s wedding and he told me,  “I’ll dance at your wedding too Dana.”,   and he soon did.

But back in high school,  altho we were close friends,  Susy was a grade ahead and we began to hang out with different crowds.  And yet one June day in her senior year it was me she called to say she’d gotten her driver’s license!

Her dad had agreed to lend her the car,  and she invited me to drive with her to Orchard Beach that Saturday.  In Pelham Bay Park,  and situated on the western end of Long Island Sound,  Orchard Beach is the only public beach in the Bronx.   It may not have made the list of the best beaches on the East coast,  but for us it might as well have been the French Riveria.   It was the place for nighttime hanky-panky in cars,  and on summer days it was our beachy Paradise.   We even went to Orchard Beach to study for our final exams,  or so we told our folks –  naively thinking they believed us.

Truthfully I don’t remember what we did once we got to the beach on that memorable day – surely we met friends and Susy proudly showed off her new driver’s license.

But I do remember that long-ago drive – two young women feeling very grown up and very free,  driving all by themselves to Paradise!

– Dana Susan Lehrman


  • My best friend, who is a year and a half older than I am, taught me how to drive in her 1968 Ford Futura when she was 18 and I was 16 in Orchard Beach parking lot during the off season. And we worked at a horse stable by Pelham Bay Park and used to race our horses on Orchard Beach on summer nights

    • Thanx for those wonderful memories of Orchard Beach, Denise!
      My sister Laurie took riding lessons at that Pelham Bit stable. ❤️

    • Thanx Nancy.
      A few years ago Susy’s brother called to tell me she had died.

      We hadn’t been in close touch over the years but when I heard the sad news I felt I had lost a precious piece of my childhood.

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