The Suitcase Lady


February 15, 2011, 8:58 pm

My mother was an Anglophile. A child of the Seifert and Bronenkant families, her lineage was one hundred per cent German. Nevertheless, everyone she met was convinced she had just stepped off a boat from the British Isles.

She adored everything English; the Queen, British literature, tea, Gilbert and Sullivan, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton. The British humor magazine Punch graced our coffee table along with a green tin of Pontefract Cakes, an odd black candy stamped with little castles.

When I was seventeen, my mum persuaded my father to abandon his beloved Ford Motor Company and buy a British car, a Morris Minor convertible.

My father was a wonderful man, but he was completely unmechanical. He was also my mother’s chauffeur as she had given up driving. Unfortunately, the only way anyone could keep a Morris running was to keep a mechanic in the trunk.

After a year of complete frustration, my father bought a Ford and gave me the Morris Minor. I was sincerely grateful to get a car. But keeping that car moving was a nightmare. Its distributor cap was on the bottom of the engine. If I drove through a puddle of any size, the car died and had to be towed. Being stranded became a way of life, especially in Spring.

I was saved by love. My true love’s father was an ace auto mechanic and a good man. The Morris spent hours in his back yard being dried out and tuned up.

For our wedding present, my father-in-law generously gave us an almost new car. He had rebuilt a vehicle that had been totaled two weeks after being purchased.

Blessedly for all, it was a Ford.

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