Monday, April 1, 2019

If You Do This, You Might Be a Geezer: A is for Auto



Today begins my blog journey from A to Z, and I thought I'd start with an explanation of my theme. 

No pretense is made regarding my seniority in any past blog post, so why start now?  I don't care how old I am, how old I was, or how old I'll be next year. I. Just. Don't. Care.  Never have; the gene that causes age anxiety was recessive, I guess. I'm on the flipside of fifty. It's a blessing, I suppose, on the grounds that I know people who are truly burdened by their actual age to the point of lying about it or being extremely touchy about the subject. 

With my theme, I'm not talking to those folks; they're hyper-aware of their chronology. I'm going to address the people who are rolling into geezerdom and just don't realize it. They don't know the signs. I'm here to help.  If you do the following, dear reader, I have bad news for you...you may have arrived at geezerhood. 

Let's get started:

A is for AUTO

One of the tell-tale signs of geezerdom has to be the selective amnesia one develops over cars they have had in the past. With no disrespect to the dead, I will start with my dear, departed Dad. 

At the time Dad married my mother, he possessed a black and white Chrysler DeSoto convertible. I'm guesstimating it was a 1961, but I truly don't know. I'm basing that guess on the fact that the last year they made the DeSoto was 1961 and by the time I started first grade in 1965, the car was gone. More about that later... I should remember more key details, but most of the time, when my Dad spoke lovingly of that car, all I heard was "blah blah blah DeSoto blah blah."

My Mom and Dad talked about that car like it was their first born child; the favorite, in fact. "The fins" were apparently the coolest thing either of them had ever encountered, based on the number of times it was mentioned. No DeSoto conversation ever occurred without dropping the "fin" bomb and I always thought that having fins sounded weird, like it was a whale or a dolphin but God forbid I referred to it as "the big fenders"...I was a kid, what did I know? Dad schooled me: "They're fins!"

Then Mom and Dad would move on to talking about "the convertible" and the things they did with the roof down, those wild and crazy kids.

But all the grandiose DeSoto chatter was just smoke and mirrors: I knew the truth. For me and my sister, that big, dumb highway-Shamu of a car was pure torture. 

The biggest issue we had was that magical, mystical convertible. WE LIVED IN NORTHEAST OHIO, PEOPLE. When I was in elementary school, the snow started in September, I swear. It was never convertible weather, in my memory. I know there had to be one day, sometime in the year, when that convertible was a wonderful asset, but I can't remember even once. 

What I do remember oh-so-well is sitting in the back seat, freezing and shivering, as we did our frequent jaunts to West Virginia to see my grandmothers. The back windows were made of plastic and there was always a hole of some sort. Those faux windows were no match for the alternating cold and heat of a year spent in an Ohio driveway. Subsequently, as winter travel rolled around, I'd find a steady stream of cold, frigid air that blew in my face all the way to grandma's house. This also put my Dad in a foul mood (truthfully, my Dad was in a foul mood most of the time) and he let off steam by blaming the holes in the plastic on a variety of sources. Eventually, I'd get that bullseye on my back...he always yelled, "are you putting your finger in that hole and making it bigger? Get your hand away from that hole!" 

True confession:  I never put my hand in that hole.
Reality check: I held my hand up to block the frostbite express blowing in my face.

In 1965, I nearly died of pneumonia and measles. Coincidence? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...

But for all cold, backseat kids, there comes a day when their secret wishes come true. Driving back to Ohio after dropping my sister and I off at grandma's, a miracle occurred. I kid you not, people. A huge boulder fell from one of those beautiful, man made, most unnatural, carved out mountains that hugged the highway... and landed on the hood of the DeSoto, destroying it -- but not causing any injury to my parents. 

But I always thought God gave the biggest dose of mercy to my sister and I.

The Act II Spoiler: Having lost his dream car, my Dad bought my Mom a brand new red convertible Corvair. You remember the Corvair, right? Ralph Nader wrote a book about the Corvair, called "Unsafe at Any Speed"? 

By the spring of 1966, “Unsafe at Any Speed” was a best seller for nonfiction, along with Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”  

We just called it "the family car." 


If you or your loved ones talk about your former road-commode cars like they were rolling thrones, shake it off! Time may be playing tricks on you and I hate to say it, but...

YOU MIGHT BE A GEEZER.

And the worse thing about that is I've found myself talking about my first car, a Plymouth Fury, like it was a fantastic machine...then, I stop, dead in my tracks. What am I saying? That car really was a road-commode. Its one redeeming factor was air conditioning; it was the first car in our family to have it and I was hooked. So was my Dad, he borrowed it whenever it was ridiculously hot and sticky, and I'd get to use the "work car." After all, why should I use my own car, that I bought and paid for, on a day when it would benefit me with the comfort of some lovely air conditioning?

Additionally, the Fury boasted a cracked engine mount that made the car hop around the corners till I emptied my meager bank account to fix it. NOT THAT I'M BITTER, but I was sick of my friends who would laugh till they cried and shout, "road commode!"

Perhaps I can keep true geezerdom at bay for myself...for a while, anyhow.

 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge



25 comments:

  1. Too funny! I love the fins on a car and wish I could own one. I think my dad was a GM guy..GM sucks today and being a kid in the late 60s and 70s, I had no idea what was good or not. I recall one time, I think I was in a pontiac, my dad was driving and I almost fell out of the car because the door opened. This was before seatbelts were mandatory so...no one I knew ever used them. My dad hated the new rule and thought it was restrictive (sigh). Anywa, That door always flew open and we had to hold on to the door when driving. Mt first car was my brother's cast off-a pontiac astre that my dad placed shocks in from a truck! I bounced everywhere. After that car I had a 1973 followed by a 1970 Ambassador. The heater or A/C never worked, The alternator or voltage regulator always went Kaput, and I kept an ice scraper in the front to scrape the inside of the car window so i could look through...fond days. Looking forward to your A to Z. I will be Freedom 55 this year:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My middle son fell out of my car as I turned a corner - he had taken off his seat belt that held his car seat in and pulled the handle. That was 32 years ago and I'm not sure I'm over it yet!

      Delete
  2. While I could never relate to car-love, (they are necessary tools to me, no romance at all) I adore your post here about it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. LOL great start! I don't really remember many of the cars my parents had but they did get a new one about every two or three years. Maybe that's why, they were never around long enough. My own cars is a different story. My first was also a Plymouth, a Valiant, which I named "Prince" of course after the comic strip. It had cool push button shift controls. I was in high school and I was in heaven. Looking forward to finding out how many other things make me a geezer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Janet! By the way, the push buttons WERE cool...

      Delete
  4. I just did a blog post about my husband tragically saying good bye to his first new car. It's easy for our kids to remember it- he kept it for 25 years.

    I always wanted a convertible, but my parents, both EMTs hated them because they didn't hold up in car crashes. (My parents had other picadilloes I will hold against them from my youth...like smoking in the car. On the bright side, it was pre AC era and they kept the windows rolled down. On the downside, I arrived at every destination wind blown and covered in ashes.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My parents both smoked in the car with the windows up...and I was the worst about getting car sick (my sister cried because she had to sit by me). I can relate.

      Delete
  5. We had a '59 Chevy Biscayne with the fins. Right around the time we got rid of it "Batman" was getting popular. And you had a hole in the roof? We had a hole in the floor... Excellent start! Happy A to Z!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Coincidentally, Batman is on the agenda for tomorrow...you're psychic, John. :-)

      Delete
  6. "Road commode"... lol! The best name we had for a car (not ours) belonged to a guy who was sadly our equivalent of the "town drunk". He would go by, and someone would say, there goes the Booze Cruiser!

    ReplyDelete
  7. We always had station wagons growing up. My favorite was the rear-facing window. We'd always make faces at the poor drivers behind us.

    ~Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle
    Literary Gold

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My sister mentioned piling into a station wagon we had as a sure way to die before your time...too many kids, facing backwards, no seat belts...and yet, we're all here.

      Delete
  8. Ah the Corvair. Death on 4 wheels. Anyway, back in high school, a girl had a corvair. One day after football practice she was taking 5 of us home so the car was packed. Including a guy in the middle front seat. The corvair had its transmission shifter on the dash. Right in front of the middle seat.

    We're waiting for traffic to clear on a busy cross street. She's looking to the left. The guy in the middle shifts the car into neutral. Traffic clears. We all start hollering GO GO GO! She floors it. And there we sit, going nowhere. Ah the good ol' days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A boyfriend I had in High School picked me up in his Mustang and then proceeded to get the other five people he had promised a ride. He thought it was a great idea for me to sit in the middle up front (uh...no seat there) and I accidently shifted it in reverse while it was moving...

      Delete
  9. Happy A Day! Good luck with A-Z.

    I didn't get around to buying a car until I was 28. Honda Civic. Totally practical. Until we moved to a place with lots of snow. Then, not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We currently own three cars...two are Civics. :-)

      Delete
  10. My father's company supplied him a Corvair for a while, but we rarely were allowed to ride in it. The family car was a station wagon.

    My first vehicle was a beat up hippie van and throughout my life I've progressively upgraded to better vans. A couple of times I got compact cars as a second vehicle, but they were okay--I liked them at the time, but nothing to brag about.

    Still I'm probably an old geezer. I was just never much of a car guy in the way of car status. I just wanted vehicles that would do the jobs they were intended to do.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The hippie van reference is like a "get-in-the-geezer-list" free card, so you're good, Lee.

      Delete
  11. Hahahahahaha, what a great post! And as funny as your reminiscences about the De Soto are, my fave line is the "road commode!" LOL! I had one of those too, back in the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, it was what we could afford to get us from A to B, right?

      Delete
  12. Cherdo,

    LOL! Oh great memories! I just loved reading your recount of those miserably days spent in the backseat of that old auto. I only rode in a convertible once in my life and it was in the summer. I did not care for it one bit. Going highway speed turns your hair into a zillion little whips lashing your cheeks and eyes. That was no fun!

    I hope y'all will find time to check out my Little Mermaid Art Sketch series beginning with ARIEL on Curious as a Cathy!!

    Happy A2Zing!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the time, we we in a miserable, relatively NEW convertible, ha ha ha. No less miserable for it's age!

      Delete
  13. Great memories....and the first that I drove was my parents Corvair, too!

    DB McNicol, author
    Microfiction: Automobile

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo