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A father and daughter recount a particularly memorable driving lesson

ASMA KHALID, HOST:

It's Friday, and that's when we hear from StoryCorps. Today, a story about driving. Let's face it, some people are not meant to drive. For Danny Bell, those people included his wife, Maritza. He recently came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Sydia, to talk about the time when Mom lost the car.

DANNY BELL: I used to take your mother for driving practice.

SYDIA BELL: 'Cause she did not know how to drive.

D BELL: And I remember one day, we was in this park, and your mother has said to me, I'm nervous. Y'all get out the car.

S BELL: What car was this?

D BELL: Oh, that was my black Maxima.

S BELL: Talk about it.

D BELL: Oh, man. That was like my love child.

S BELL: Hello. Was it paid off, too?

D BELL: It was paid off.

(LAUGHTER)

S BELL: All right. So she's driving. And to my recollection, she was doing a really good job.

D BELL: She was, until I told her, I want you to park the car. I stood in front of the car to guide her, and I kept pulling my hands towards me. I said, come on. Come on. And for some reason, she stepped on the gas, and the car flew. I had to jump out of the way, and the car went over the embankment into the water, flipped upside down.

S BELL: And me and you and the dog...

D BELL: The dog.

S BELL: ...Roxanna...

D BELL: Yeah.

S BELL: ...Looking down.

D BELL: I could not believe this happened.

S BELL: What just happened?

D BELL: And I ran down the hill and went into the water, and I couldn't see nothin'. But I knew she was in there.

S BELL: And I remember these two women came up, and they called 911 and stuff. Do you remember that?

D BELL: I remember - the ambulance and the police.

S BELL: And I want to say, even a helicopter.

D BELL: Yeah. The feeling was, it's too late. She's gone. Until I pushed her up to the top of the car, they thought she was dead.

S BELL: I'm left with this memory of my dad coming out of the water, like, literally holding my mom and saving her against all odds. That moment was love embodied to me. But what I also remember is you going, oh, I saved it, but Lord, my car.

D BELL: Yeah.

S BELL: (Laughter).

D BELL: I had...

S BELL: My car (laughter).

D BELL: I had just shined my car up. It was beautiful. And she said, I am never going to touch a car again. Until this day, she just sits in the passenger seat and complain about, turn over there, slow down, you know?

S BELL: Truth, truth, truth.

D BELL: Everything.

(LAUGHTER)

S BELL: That's a Bell family story.

D BELL: Yes, it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KHALID: That's Danny and Sydia Bell in Atlanta, Ga. Their interview will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jo Corona