Teddy Cohen is 103 years old, has had a licence for 90 years, and has been an AA member since 1936 (over 75 years).
Cohen, a Killarney resident, was born and raised in Bloemfontein, he started legally driving at the age of 13! In fact at 99 he had his licence renewed again, but sadly two months ago had his car taken away from him as he can’t be insured anymore due to his age. But health wise doctors say Teddy is so fit and healthy that he is more likely to die from being hit by a bus!
Cohen, a big car aficionado and a jack of all trades, was an arms and ammunitions dealer in Bloemfontein. “The AA store was directly opposite my store and the man from the AA would often come into my shop, of course being a car enthusiast I automatically wanted the AA badge to add to my Jaguar,” says Cohen.
When asked what would keep him a member for 75 years Cohen said, “The AA has always been very good to me, I was quite the handy man so was always able to look after my cars but on the one occasion that I did need them they were helpful and informative. I never once thought to stop my membership because you just never know when you might need it.”
Teddy’s first car was a Chevy (that cost him 300 pounds at the time) and his latest car a Hyundai, but he has always been a Jaguar enthusiast. Cohen recalls that the when he first began driving, roads were gravel and the price of petrol was always an issue no matter what era you lived in.
We all battle with getting a drivers licence but he had it quite easy 90 years ago. “In the 1920’s the Spanish flu had hit SA and my father and I were staying in the Vaal. The police Captain at the time needed barley from Kimberley to help heal the people in the Vaal who had the flu but at that time transport was dependent on Ox Wagon. My father had a Maxwell car which I could drive and the captain asked if I could go collect the barley. To make sure I could drive he then made me drive around the block and back. He then gave me a letter stating authority was given to me to drive and from then on I drove with that letter as my licence. My biggest disappointment would have to be that I was never asked to produce it!”
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1180