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REFLECTIONS OF WHO WE ARE
6 July 2006
Milly, of Milly's Muse, recently wrote an entry called "Reflections of Who We Are," about how our choice of cars tells the world the kind of person we are.
It got me to thinking about the cars we have owned throughout our 41 years of married life.
Walt lived in Bethesda before he moved to California and when he moved, he drove across country in his 1953 Rambler convertible (just like Lois Lane drove in the old George Reeves Superman series).
He drove that car for several years until shortly before we married, when we threw caution to the wind and bought a 1962 flaming red Pontiac Tempest convertible. We left our wedding reception in the Rambler and drove to where he had parked the Tempest, which we drove to Canada for our honeymoon. (I told the story of getting rid of the Rambler here, midway down the page. It's worth reading!)
I'm not sure when exactly we turned the Tempest in on a nice, sensible family car, a 1967 Opal hatchback (our first "new" car), a car that would fit our large family (if snugly).
I remember when we drove that car to Colorado to ride the train from Durango to Silverton. We were packed in that car so tightly that David, who was only 5 months old at the time, learned how to stand up in his bed in the back. This was long before seatbelts and car seats and he was just lying loose in the car bed. I often wonder how any people in our generation raised children through to adulthood without killing them all.
Eventually the growing kids required a larger car and in 1973 we traded the Opel in on a big GMC van, which was dubbed "The Jolly Green Giant."
It was the only van that looked like it in Davis, so nobody could ever sneak out to do anything, because everybody in town recognized our van. But it served us well. Many are the kids who got schlepped to diving meets, band competitions, parades, jazz choir concerts. Lots of scenery got moved from our carport to the theatre in that van. Eventually it died and we donated it to someone. It had to be loaded onto a truck to take away. Sad end to an era, when that car left.
At some point we also acquired an old VW sedan, which was the bane of my existence. When it started falling apart, we debated about whether to put in a whole new motor or bite the bullet and buy a new car. It wasn't cheap, but it was less expensive than buying a new car, so we put in the new motor. We spent the money we had saved to go to Brasil to see all of our foreign students. I can remember sitting in that car screaming at the top of my lungs when I realized we had to pay for the car instead of the trip I had longed for for so long. Even at that, it only lasted another year or so and we had to buy another car anyway.
We replaced the VW with a brand new 1983 Toyota Corolla. We tried to trade the VW in, and they just laughed at us, but I think they let us leave the car on the lot instead of trying to get rid of it ourselves. We bought the Toyota (which we called "Bunbury" from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, because we would use the car to leave town and have fun, or, as Wilde puts it, "having a Bunbury") in the wintertime and I remember our discussion about whether or not to pay extra for air conditioning. Silly dolt that I was, I knew that air conditioning would be more expensive and decided that we didn't really need to pay the extra money for air conditioning. That was, of course, before the 100+ degrees of summer hit and there we were with our un-airconditioned car for the next several years.
Ultimately, we sold Bunbury to Jeri, convincing her that she would do better to buy a car from someone she knew than from a used car dealer. What none of us knew was that the brakes were about to go out and within two months of buying the car, she had to spend a hefty sum to get it up and running. Later, Bunbury was the car David was driving when he wrapped himself around a telephone pole in San Francico.
But after we sold Bunbury to Jeri, we bought a 1987 Toyota Camry. Having lived through summers in the Corolla, I was no longer the altruistic person I was when I cavalierly said "I can live without air conditioning." "This is the car that is going to see me through menopause and hot flashes," I told Walt. "We. are. getting. air. conditioning." It was a decision I never regretted.
We had the Camry until it was stolen out of a BART parking lot one night while we were at a show in San Francisco. AAA paid us to replace the car and we bought what what we now have, a 1995 Honda Accord, which came with air conditioning, and a CD player.
We've had it for many years and I suppose that eventually we are going to have to get a new car, but I love this car and I am in no hurry to buy a new one. I only give up the old and familiar when it seems there is no real alternative. I wouldn't know a "status car" if I saw one.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Ned's picture of BooBoo on Goleta Beach