Friday, June 15, 2007

My kingdom for a car...

A few days ago, I read an inspiring post over at Mary's View about all the cars she remembered riding in as a kid and driving as an adult. I commented that it should be a new meme--to enumerate the cars (providing art when possible, even if it's just stock photos from the 'Net) we've lived with, put up with, almost died in, etc. Like a biographical timeline of our lives as passengers and drivers. Here we go, with my car-ography:



When I was a kid, we always had one decent car, huge for our big family (five kids). Then sometimes we'd have another car that dad picked up somewhere for like 50 bucks. Here are the ones I remember.


The first car I remember is our silver Chevy stationwagon. I think we had a few of these, always silver. Here's a picture of Mr. T's (not THAT Mr. T), so you get the idea of how huge it was. We had those until like 1977. Those cars were HUGE! My sister Mary and I would hang out in the back whenever we went anywhere--that way, Ricardo wasn't bugging us, and we had lots of room and windows to look out of. We would pretend we were in a big race with all the other cars, and if anyone passed us, we'd say, "oh that's a janitor going to clean up some of the track ahead!" A JANITOR on a racetrack? Okay, we were nutty.


Daddy also had a yellow VW bug for a little while---LOVED that car! I don't think we ever even rode in it--no seatbelts on that one, either. The only time we were in it was when we would play our driving game, where we would pretend to be two hunters heading for someplace (we'd pick a random Texas city, the crazier the name, the better), and of course we'd get lost because someone's thumb was covering up the right road! It was a silly game, like all our games.


Sometimes he would bring home a field car from the Highway Dept., where he worked before he went into business on his own. It was this super-dark blue thing -- I hardly remember it except for the fact that it had like a truck bed with these big steel boxes in it -- like utility trucks do--and it was sooo cool to us! We loved it when he'd bring that one home for lunch or something. We'd go outside and play on it--crawl all over it, etc.


Then he got this GIANT thing that he called "the hearse" -- he kept joking that he was going to buy a hearse, and we were all practically having fits, thinking he was serious and we were gonna get some big hearse with a coffin in it. Then he brought it home: an International Travel-All.
Photo courtesy of someone selling it on Ebay.

It was this gigantic SUV (before they called them SUVs) like a Suburban, only cheesier -- no luxuries at all! Everything was hard, rubber mats, no carpet, metal floor, vinyl seats, etc. -- and the back part with no seats was almost as big as my bedroom! We had some fun playing our driving game in that one! And it had the weirdest smell in it---it smelled like outside, and wild animals, and dirt. Perhaps some real hunters (including my dad) had thrown a deer in the back. . . and kept it there for a while. . . .
Then Daddy bought a brand-new Mercury Marquis -- color: champagne.
Here’s a black one (sadly, I couldn't find one in champagne) from the Fawcett Movie Cars web site. We all thought it was the fanciest car in the whole world! Even the paint color was fancy! You should've seen that boat -- it was like a mile long! Note the panels over the headlights—they would flip up like little garage doors when you turned on the lights. We had this for a long time. Sidenote: while googling for photos of this gem, I saw a link to a story about the search warrant issued for Timothy McVeigh’s Mercury Marquis. Eerie.


Then we got a series of Oldsmobile Delta 88s. See one here. Daddy had this one that was cream with maroon felty interior--we loved it! It was great until one day we had all this flooding (probably some random hurricane), and Daddy got trapped in the water--he tried to drive through but he didn't make it. The water came up into the car and flooded it almost to the bottom of the windows -- and it bleached out the maroon interior, ruined the car. (Daddy was fine!) So he got another one, a lot more boring--cream with brown interior. Blah.


By this point, I was old enough to drive, so I inherited my big sister Raquel's 1971 brown Ford Pinto Runabout—yes, for all you older people, it was a blows-up-if-rear-ended model! Check out this old ad:


This would have been around 1980-81; I was a sophomore in high school. We called the car the Brown Bean. It had been in a train wreck! Raquel had been going to a friend's house, and the lights/bells thing wasn't working but a train was coming, and she didn't hear or see it, and it kinda sideswiped her car somehow and spun it around -- she only had a few bruises!!! Pretty scary. Somehow Daddy fixed it with Bondo and by hammering out the dents, and then I inherited it.


When the Brown Bean died, my dad got me a used Chevy Chevette, in a light silvery blue. Check out some pretty hilarious photos here. I think it was a '79--by now I was a senior, so we're talking 1982-83. It had a tape deck and everything! I drove my sister and my friends crazy by ONLY playing Linda Ronstadt cassettes in the car. BUT WHAT A LEMON! It might as well have been painted yellow. That thing was always refusing to start, or dying on the side of the road.


Somehow, we held it together until I bought my own car when I was in grad school. My down payment was some Christmas money I'd gotten from my aunt, and my best friend's dad worked at the Ford dealership, so he helped me get a brand-new 1988 Ford Escort DX, in a deep red color. FANCY! Power everything! Great car. Had that until 1991.

Then I bought the first of three Toyota Corollas, one right after the other, between 1990-95. I would trade the cars in after two or three years, because I drove all over the state (for fun and to see family) so I didn't want to risk any breakdowns or whatever. I had the last Corolla, a 95, until the month before we left Texas. By this point, it had well over 120K miles on it, and Kat's car was in better shape. I sold it to some people from Mexico who were headed for Nebraska to work in the meat processing plants. If only I had already read Fast Food Nation then, I could've warned them that they'd regret it!


Anyway--I then drove Kat's white 1994 Cutlass Supreme for the last couple weeks of delivering pizza for Domino's, and then we moved up here. We had that car until it died and we bought our Saturn Ion in 2005. It's a nice little car, and we call it "the little particle" because it's small and it's an Ion.

Mary talked a lot about her emotional attachments to her past cars, but I never really felt a connection with cars until I had my own reliable one—the Escort, and then the Corollas. I called all of them the same thing: my little red gem. I loved my cars because to me they meant freedom. I could just get in, drive down the interstate as long as I wanted, and no one could stop me and the car wouldn’t break down. True freedom, behind the wheel of my very own car.

Back then, I used to LOVE driving. I would drive to think, to unwind, to see new places – I loved being in my car. Nowadays, driving is more just a way to get someplace I need to go. Gas is too expensive to just take a drive for a few hours, and there’s never enough time to just drive for fun. Still--someday, maybe I'll get a new sweet ride, and I'll post pics of it. I'll definitely have to put one of these on the bumper--thanks to Mike at 10,000 Birds:


16 comments:

Mary Carlson said...

Your post was fun to read. Gotta admit, Mary seems to inspire quite a few of us about all sorts of things. :) Thanks for sharing.

dguzman said...

She's one of my heroes!

Mary said...

Delia. This was so entertaining and fun! I remember the PINTO! My husband drove one for a while.

And those huge boats your father loved... Sorry one of them sinking. LOL!

My Aunt and Uncle had one of those enormous station wagons with wooden side panels. They had 7 kids. Whenever my uncle would take us for a ride, we all fought over who would get to sit all the way in the back. I don't see cars like that anymore.

My only emotional attachment was to my red Prelude but every car I remember brings memories to my mind - like chapters in a book.

I'll be you enjoyed putting this together as much as I loved reading it.

mary guzman your sister said...

i spoke with mom this morning and started thinking of you and decided to check out your blog - sadly, something i don't often enough. the piece on cars brought back many memories and inspired me to send you this re: the 78 mercury grand marquis (was that the year?).
http://www.mefeedia.com/entry/royal-deluxe-ii/11040213/
love,mary

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