Way back when I was a kid my dad had a 1960 Dodge Dart Pioneer. A big, brown, rusting, beautiful thing that sat unmoved on the driveway for several years. It was one of our favorite places to play. When it wasn’t a car it was a rocket ship, a pirate ship, and an awesome make shift sauna for a ten year old on a hot summer day.
When my older brother got his driver’s license he convinced my dad to get the beast working again. I remember dad sitting at the kitchen table sewing a new headliner. I also remember the desiccated mice we found removing the old one. I watched as my dad tried his hand at fiber glassing as he attempted to repair the rusting fenders with a bit of resin and cloth.
After they finally got it running it became my brother’s regular ride. His contribution to the effort was to install a state of the art…8 track. I can’t remember how many times I got a ride in that car and the same Petula Clark tape was sticking out of the deck. I loved her then and I love her now. A Petula song suddenly appearing in my music stream can brighten up a day like almost nothing else.
The old Dodge was the first in a series of beaters my dad had in a fleet that ultimately grew to four vehicles. As the father of five boys he was smart enough to not own one worth more than $3000 until after the last of us had moved out. Each of those cars have their own memories. No doubt each have stories still secret about something my brothers or I did in and with each of them. In my turn I had lots of great times in the 1971 Impala. The body repairs we had to do to it only hinted at how much fun I had in that car. At 95 mph it just floated down the highway, windows down, heading to the lake. Most of my best stories are still untold, known only to the few involved in each particular antic.
So as I watched my own kids wrecking my cars and backyard modding their own first cars I smile. I put on the mad dad face when they bang up my car, or get another ticket but that part of the dad job. Inside, after I get over the fact the my brand new truck has a door that won’t close anymore, I am laughing inside. Been there done that. One day my kids will think back to their own stories and smile too.