The Suitcase Lady


August 21, 2018, 9:43 pm

I learned to drive in a lima bean green colored 1950 Plymouth sedan with a stick shift on the wheel. It took me a lot of meshed gears and grimaces from my father to master it, but when I finally got my license, my father gave me the car.

My second car was also a hand me down from my father, and it proved to be the most unreliable car in my entire car history. Every time there was a good downpour, my little Morris Minor convertible would get a flooded distributor. Then it had to be towed to a garage and dried out. Since I drove that car to a commuter college, it is a miracle I ever graduated.

When my husband and I were married, we received a rebuilt Ford Falcon from my father-in-law, a mechanic and auto body man, as a wedding present. We loved that car and drove it for many years. It did, however, have a little quirk. Every time we drove in snow, our Falcon left four sets of tire tracks down the road, a reminder that it had been crashed into a telephone pole in its previous life.

The years went by and we had two children and a desire to acquaint them with their country. Our next car was a new Ford Torino station wagon. This was the pre-seat belt era, and the kids had the equivalent of a small apartment in what we referred to as Torino’s “way back”. Countless hours of happy sightseeing, reading, playing and sleeping went on back there as America rolled by the windows. Both our kids grew up to be fabulous travelers with a firm command of geography.

All four of us hated the car that replaced the Torino, a Chevy Nova. For the few years we had it, the kids insisted that the back seat smelled disgusting. Even though we could never detect any odor, we did believe them; after all, we weren’t the back seat passengers. We did, however, hate that car for another reason… would get completely stuck in one or two inches of snow.

But our era of car hell truly began when our kids went to college. Each of us commuted in a different direction; car pooling and mass transit weren’t options. Insuring and maintaining four cars was required. Our budget as well as our sanity were severely strained. When our daughter graduated, she moved to New York City, a place where a car is essentially useless. We were elated.

The rest of our car history is boring…a long series of compact cars with increasingly better gas mileage and dependability as the years progressed.

At the moment we own the best car we have ever had, a Honda Fit that can get 50 mpg on a good day and doesn’t stop dead when it encounters a puddle.

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