Ever since the dawn of time, or at least when humans became more human, we have had a fascination with getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Legs with feet attached got us there quicker than crawling, but humans were developing better brains and, lo and behold, the wheel was invented.
In the years that followed, humans invented an engine using steam and later an engine that would run on fuel — partially propelled by fossil fuels, the remnants of dinosaurs and other living organisms. Compared to today’s automobiles, the early cars were primitive, slow, and had more flat tires than at a construction site. No matter. Humans developed a love affair with cars and these vehicles became status symbols.
My dad liked Chrysler products, especially our blue Imperial. He even brought it over to Morocco, much to the delight of the village kids who got change for washing it every week. Back in those days, two quarters was good pay for washing a car. Daddy would even take them for rides in it on the dusty dirt roads in the village.
One time, when we were back in the States, he bought a needle-nosed car made by Studebaker. My mother literally hated that car. For whatever reason, she had a difficult time getting the car in the right gear. One time she picked my sister and me up from school and for the life of her couldn’t get it in to go forward. Nothing she did would get that car to move ahead.
No amount of slapping the dashboard, calling it evil names, even cussing — my mom rarely cussed — would get that d@#%med needle-nosed idiot piece of junk (Mom’s words) moving any way but backwards. She drove that car from the school all the way to our home, down quiet residential streets, backwards. I kid you not. My sister sat on the floor too embarrassed to sit on the seat.
I have to say that even as a third grader I found this to be hysterically funny. I laughed so hard, tears streamed down my face. To this day, this is still one of the funniest events of my life.
My sister and Mom both shouted “SHUT UP!!” to me at the same time, which sent me into more hysterics. Pretty soon we were all laughing as we backed into the driveway. It took us a while to get out of that car. The next day at school, people were talking about some lady driving backwards down their street. It was a real-life moment bringing thoughts of “I Love Lucy.”
I’m not sure why Dad bought that car, but it disappeared and a new blue two toned tail-finned Dodge took its place. We all liked that car a lot. It had air conditioning and automatic windows and it always was in the right gear!
My first car was one my parents loaned me when I moved to Northwest Georgia to teach after college graduation. We were on our way to Calhoun when Daddy pulled over to the shoulder of 1-75 and said, “Well, you might as well get used to it now,” and handed me the keys to their big, white, 1964 Chrysler New Yorker, automatic, push button drive. I mean, this was their car. What were they going to drive? I think they got another Dodge.
I called that car my Sherman Tank and drove the heck out of it. I drove it so fast up the interstate heading toward Knoxville, the speedometer fell off. Seriously, It. Fell. Off! I don’t know how fast I was going, but if any patrol man had clocked me, he would have thought I was hauling moonshine. He never would have caught me either.
When we met, my future husband owned a 1968 white T-top Corvette he promised himself to purchase if he made it back from Vietnam alive. He let me drive it only one time. I couldn’t see over the dashboard and almost ran us in a ditch. So much for driving that sacred car. My sister-in-law drove it only one time, too. She told Bill it sure did seem like it went really fast at 30. Bill’s face got a funny look and — it turns out she was watching the RPMs not the speedometer.
And to think that he traded that car in for a Ford XL. He figured we needed a family car since we were getting married. We kept the XL but got another sports car, a TR-6 red convertible. I adored that car and cried when we sold it after our first child was born. It just wasn’t practical.
The kids are all grown. Hmmm ... love affairs with cars are hard to break. Recently, I saw a little red TR-6 convertible.