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Or, Self Indulgent Nostalgia Series (S.I.N.S) No. 5
If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't, yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.
Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Star: Dana -- A gentlereader
Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& gentlereaders),
Our boring old man story thus far...
In part one I talked about the fact that for the first 12.75 years of my life cars were of little importance as I was living in inner-city Pittsburgh (with an h) at the time and it was possible to secure the basic necessities of life (physical, emotional, and psychological) on foot or via cheap and easily accessible public transport.
[That's quite the opening sentence, Sparky.]
Thank you, Dana. I summed up an entire letter/column in just 61 words.
[I was being sarcastical I...]
I would've never guessed. In part two I described my family's decamping to the 'burbs and the fact that cars, or rather the fact we didn't have one, became very important.
Next, me and mine moved to suburban (nearly rural) Philadelphia and joined forces with my big brother Ed and his family. I now had a drivers license, a car, and a job.
The job was working at the small supermarket where my brother worked as the meat department manager and alleged heir to the throne.
He was busting his butt because he'd been told by the owners, Yano and Hack 'n' Slash, that he was accumulating sweat equity towards eventually owning the store. It never happened; it's complicated. I'd wish them well but their both dead.
Anyways, having a car and a little money took the edge off of spending my last year of public high school at an institution that was a giant step backward from the sophisticated high school I had attended for the previous three years.
The one in the Pittsburgh (with an h) suburb we couldn't really afford to live in and had so much trouble getting around in because we didn't have/couldn't afford a car.
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Now securing provisions no longer involved a long walk to the bus stop, a relatively lengthy bus ride, shopping, a relatively lengthy bus ride, and a long walk home.
[And yes, I also walked five miles to school through blizzards, uphill both ways.]
However, the best part was being able to drive where I wanted to when I wanted to -- within certain limits -- till I moved into my own apartment once I had that last year of high school under my belt and 25 hours per week became 40+ hours per week.
My first car, a '62 Buick LeSabre, got about 10 mpg, but gas was about 29 cents a gallon at the time, so who cared? It also had wing windows, which are long gone and which I still miss, and could seat six comfortably, eight in a pinch. My friends called it the Road Grader.
I turned a modest profit by renting out the truck to Vietnamese refugee families.
[Are you trying to get us dragged in front of the Intersectional Inquisition?]
Please! I still maintain contact with some of 'em. They loan me money with no interest when I'm in trouble because they feel sorry for me. Some of their grandkids are suing Ivy League schools to overturn the bias against Asians that make the rest of us look stupid and lazy.
* * *
One of my primary car memories from this period was driving through, and hanging out in, beautiful Valley Forge State Park where there were lots of beautiful young women, weather permitting.
Another was driving to the King of Prussia shopping mall to hang out because the place was full of beautiful young women regardless of the weather
Another was driving to...
[I think they can suss out the theme you're developing, Sparky.]
Sparky? Since when...
[I suppose next we're going to be treated to wild-eyed, exaggerated stories about your romantic prowess/adventures?]
I was even more introverted then than I am now. While not all that shy nowadays, I was very shy back then. And, never having been either a sex or a success object my love life has been a rather modest one.
Besides, there are all sorts of people still alive who knew me at the time, I'm not that old yet, so...
However, being young during the sexual revolution and the age of the mini-skirt, when rock 'n' roll peaked -- and before the AIDS plague broke out -- was, well, very cool. Glad I was there even if I was a bit player.
Anyways, I picked up enough so that once I eventually had two intense three-year relationships and then a 21-year marriage to my late wife I was able to appreciate that the best sex occurs within a committed relationship.
[Whoa... too much information. Wait a minute, isn't the subject of your boring interactions with cars supposed to be the subject at hand?]
Well, yeah, but I'm famous for charming digressions and occasional wonderings down Memory Lane.
[I guess that's one way of looking at it.]
* * *
Once I got a taste of the freedom and independence cars provided I was hooked. Since then I've devoted a great deal of time, money, and trouble to making sure I owned a car.
There have been times when cash flow problems, coinciding with expensive car repair problems, generated temporary transportation crises.
There was a time or two when these given crises went on long enough to result in life-altering changes of direction (pun intended and embraced).
However, my desire to own my own car was only reinforced. My Dear Stickies, you may have trouble relating to this but that's because your parents and I have gone to a great deal of trouble to make sure you take all sorts of things for granted.
Millennials and Generation Z, I'm lead to believe, particularly the urban versions, don't love cars the way we Boomers and Xers did and do. But after all, life as we know it will be over in 12 years without a Green New Deal, a little less than that now.
Cars, we are told, in spite of the fact we now have corn-fed and/or battery-powered ones that depend on subsidies and Rules&Regs issued by The Gummit, are one of the reasons we find ourselves on the road to perdition.
That nine-day road trip that me, Ron, and Freddie took to Disneyworld in the late seventies (a sort of workingman's Spring break) -- wherein Fred's car was a vital member of the team -- would not have attained its mythical status without an Oldsmobile Omega.
Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day
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