Car car c-a-r, stick your head in the jelly jar
Wednesday April 04th 2012, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Now, if you ask someone to open up and tell you all about their childhoods, they’d likely go uhbuhduhbuhduhbuduhhhh…

Narrow it down. One of my sisters emailed all of us siblings out of the blue today and asked for memories of the cars we had growing up–particularly the limo.

My folks once needed a new car that could haul six kids on long trips and handle a camping trailer as well. Guess what car, in Washington DC in 1972, was cheaper than a new station wagon? And in the days of shoddy auto work, was designed not to break down?

Yup.  Dad bought a three-year-old used embassy limousine. (Link is to Scott’s strawberry pie story.)

There was the time Mom, turning right at a blind intersection, stopped a school bus that had lost its brakes on a steep hill. Just a dent to the limo. The thing was nineteen feet long and a tank.

The irony is that my brother once was stopped and someone roaring up behind rear-ended him so hard that the nose of their (MG, he thinks it was) went right underneath, all but totalling their brand new car. The guy got out ripping mad, screaming that it was all my brother’s fault.

Um, hello?

The cop admitted that he could write the guy a ticket, and certainly would–except that the MG guy would just rip it up in front of them.

The guy worked for an embassy.  Diplomatic plates. Defense de parler au chauffeur. (That was a sign one of us bought for Dad one year to hang on the back of his headrest.)

And when I mention shoddy auto work, from back before the Big Three had competition: my uncle once bought a brand new station wagon that, the first time he raised the hood, one corner near the windshield simply crumpled. As Walter Cronkite used to say, And that’s the way it was.

When he moved away from the DC area, he sold it to my folks.

Years later, I decided I wanted to drive it to college. Mom thought this was a really bad idea but didn’t tell me I couldn’t. She did (clearly) set an older sister from a family we were close to on me to tell me how much her college life had revolved around working to pay for car repairs and how much she regretted buying hers; a $200 VW bug was anything but $200, and college learning kind of dropped by the wayside, missing the point of why she was at school.

So. The wagon needed a lot of work and Mom wanted an estimate on it (probably to tell me sorry, couldn’t be done). I still had some hopes. We were going to leave it at the service station across the next town. I was driving the other car, Mom was following in the old battered battleaxe–and that hood suddenly twisted upwards and hit the windshield!

We finally pulled into the gas station. Mom asked where we should put it.

The guy looks at it, looks at her, looks at it in a long slow wondering stare and answered, What do you want ME to do with THAT, lady?!

I should add that that was after it had sat in the driveway unopened undriven for two weeks and someone had left their wet bathing suit in it. In July. In 100+ degrees, 100% humidity, windows rolled up.

I had scrubbed and scrubbed in anticipation of being able to have a car… Because not only did it stink worse than rotten eggs, the seatbelts were a thick fuzz of inch-high poofy white tendrils.

I did not know before that mildew could do that.

I still thought it was salvageable.

I don’t think anyone ever drove that car again.

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I had a girlfriend with lousy luck with cars. Her dad and brother were always dragging home some clunker that “with just a bit of work” would be up and running. HAAHAHAHAHAH!

My “unfavorite” car memory was when I left that scotch egg in a tupperware container under the seat. Then opened it two weeks later. Was vomiting so hard that I closed the car door with the tupperware STILL INSIDE the car. Husband had to go save it after TWO days. Of course, this is the same car I broke the pickled herring container in and it stunk to high heaven when it was hot.

I sold the car in the dead of winter.

Comment by Afton 04.05.12 @ 6:05 am

Can’t top those. Thanks for the chuckles, Alison!

Comment by Channon 04.05.12 @ 7:09 am

To Parker: There WHAT goes?
To everyone else: I wouldn’t even TRY to top those!

Comment by Don Meyer 04.05.12 @ 10:53 am

Oh, to have the optimism of youth!

My favorite car memory is of my first car, which was a secondhand Vega that took me through college, early years of marriage and motherhood, and then seemingly rusted out around the wheels to the point that it couldn’t get its safety certification nor did any auto body shop in the area think it to be repairable. My (3rd) stepfather, who I dearly loved, was a genius at fixing things. He arrived on the scene with a hunk of sheet metal and a blowtorch. When he was done, the car was in such good shape we drove her for 3 more years!

Comment by twinsetellen 04.05.12 @ 8:06 pm

Speakin gof tanks, my car before the current one was a Ford Crown Victoria I bought used. That thing was a modern tank. I LOVED that car. People rear ended me (multiple times) and my car did not have a scratch. THEIR car looked like crumpled tinfoil. Alas the wiring started to go and that is expensive to fix ,especially in a 13 year old car. But I LOVED that car….

Comment by Carol 04.06.12 @ 7:36 am

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