Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Ford Woody


Automobiles are an important part of my psyche. Cars have not been an extension of my nether regions like the playboys of the world who have motorcycles, motorboats and fast sports cars. Number one son passes his driver's test. In an image permanently fixed in my brain, Matthew walks in the porch door of our suburban home. He stops a moment and pats his wallet. "Freedom," he says. Then he was promptly pulled over and cited for speeding on the freeway. Hah! I was three years old in this picture, a month before my birthday. My mother, a pack rat, saved everything including the clothes I wore in the picture. When she died, Dawn and I fill a 200 cubic foot dumpster with old Christmas cookie tins, preserved remains of parakeets, pieces of wood, thirty year old homemade elderberry wine, magazines, carpets stored on the second floor of the garage smelling of mouse urine, and even a box of sawdust. It was a disturbing experience.

This is my first vehicle. It wasn't fast but the important thing to remember is that I was mobile. I also rode a silver wheeled wagon with green sides. It doesn't count, because I couldn't propel it myself.
I was too little to do the knee and push maneuver. I graduated shortly thereafter to a tricycle. A red, white and blue scooter was my second car. By the time I was seven, I had a fat tire, 24 inch Schwinn two-wheeler. I learned how to ride it by practicing on my neighbor's 20 inch bicycle. I'm not sure of the correct order, but I learned to drive a car either from Joe Cusson in Northern Minnesota riding on his lap in a 1952 Chevy or when my step dad let me drive the Model T. I had to stand to depress the clutch while Dad operated the shift and the spark. My eldest cried when I took off the training wheels to her 20 inch bicycle. I was dumbfounded. She was traumatized by fear of falling without training wheels. My daughter is about a year and a half in this picture. Thanks to my mother who stored my Ford Woody on the second floor of the garage where mice took turns at the wheel, I was able to restore the Woody to it's original condition. Note the cardboard Ripple wine box.

They came and went. An Oldsmobile with a 4-barrel carburetor and white bucket seats, a Ford Sunliner convertible with glass pack mufflers, a Volkswagen I sold to my ex-brother-in-law that caught fire, an old Volvo that barely ran, a thirties era Chevy that never ran, the four wheel drive Blazer that got me in serious trouble off roading, a Volkswagen bus with blue stars painted on the ceiling, a series of $100 specials that would croak at the most inopportune times and even a Puch motorbike.
Ted and Fred would be miffed if I didn't include them in this epistle. I spend half my life in the more temperate months bouncing around the farm making it "my pretty". We emulate our parents. Making preparations to move out of state, I realized I, too, was a pack rat. My eldest daughter was the recipient. A canoe, thirties era gas cook stove, antique clocks, an Edison gramophone with a cardboard box of cylinder records and pressed back rockers. In my downtown storefront, I proudly displayed my Ford Woody next to a six foot carved eagle. A man who restored old cars including "Woodies" offered me $500 for it. I learn it's worth more. As it was, Dawn and I drove two, 26 foot Penske moving vans filled with our household goods. I left my Ford Woody behind. My hope was that she keep it for a third generation. I never asked for the details, but I know she sold it on Ebay along with three Steiff teddy bears that belonged to my mother-Mama, Papa and baby.

I wrestle with feelings of attachment and non attachment. Jorge, a friend who lives nearby says, "When I'm gone-it's someone else's problem." Jorge is a hermit bachelor. He cried when his golden lab Ben died recently.

3 comments:

Laura Jayne said...

My boss has a collection of peddle cars that he has bought on ebay. Hmmm... will have to take a look for yours. Bad part about his hobby, he is a dumb as a rock about computers so his hobby means I get to moniter his auctions, make his bids, deal with paypal. All the fun stuff... sigghhhh.

Roger A. Gavrillo said...

I was hoping someone would comment about how cute I was in the pictures. I'm not fishing for compliments, but at least "bulldog" could come up with some witty jibes. LJ-if you find the Woody don't tell. I'm still figuring out a non-attached way to lose a pig collection;what to do with my collection of "lost marbles" that I'm saving for my dementia days;disposing of a selection of railroad spikes and horseshoes. I echo that sigghhh!

bulldog and crab said...

With me it was dump-trucks and tractors. My parents gave me a bunch of toys that I used to play with. I don't think that you are being a packrat. I think that it is just a way of holding on to "better times" and the littlest things can bring back valuable memories. Value sometimes isn't just the cost of something.

You were such a cute kid... what happened?