Monday, July 5, 2010

1958 Chevy Station Wagon

I was sort of watching a movie today...when I say, "sort of watching," it means I was NOT watching, but that the movie was on and I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye... when I say, "corner of my eye," it means my good eye, the left one, the one that has to do the work for both eyes.  But I digress.  So, there I was, not watching this movie, when out of the corner of my good eye, I caught a glimpse of a 1958 Chevy Station Wagon.  Now I know this car, because that is the only car I remember from my youth.  Dad drove one, and when, in 1974 or so, it was my turn to learn that wonderful art of driving, it was in this car that I learned.

Now, Dad and Mom did not purchase this car new.  I think they purchased it in 1963 when we returned to the States after living in Cyprus for a few years. New or not, it was a big car, big enough to carry the family of eight.  I have so many memories in that car.

There were the memories of the annual vacation trips to "the Pond House," the old, two bedroom cabin in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in which my father spent his early years.  These trips always began at night, and with the back seat folded down allowing the six kids to lie down on the quilts, and sleep most of the nine hour drive.  Dad drove, and Mom, well I know she was in the car, but beyond that, I don't really know...was she sleeping? was she chatting with Dad?  Whatever, I was sleeping!  I think I awoke from my slumbers every year in the exact same time... when we drove down the "stair steps."   Honestly, I have no idea what they were, but they were like stair steps, even though I am pretty sure Dad did NOT drive off the road.

Other trips I recall were trips to Florida.  These trips took longer, and for some reason, We had the seat up for these trips.  Some of the kids still were sleeping behind the seat, and a couple were sitting up on the seat, but I recall my favorite place was sleeping on the car floor between the front and back seat....why?  Well, I like the sound of the car, and I liked the hole in the floor.  I could watch the road go by.  I was sorely disappointed when Dad "fixed" the hole by covering it with some big metal sign....I mean, I suppose it wasn't the safest thing on earth, having a big hole in the floor of the car... but I lost my window to the road when the sign was set in place.

Mostly, in those early years, I recall that when sitting up in the car, we were ALL able to see clearly into the rearview mirror.  This was an important point because this was where we could see "the EYE"...that look Dad would give us, without turning around... that look that ALWAYS preceded the invitation to the misbehaving child or children..."Do you want to get out and WALK?"  No, "the EYE" continued long after the '58 days, but it was in that car that I first recall experiencing it.

That '58 Chevy went with us to England, where she underwent a spruce up.  I think the floor was actually repaired, and I know she got a new paint job.  She was a shining red and white least for a while.

When we returned to the States, Dad bought a new car, which became his daily driver.  Mom, who got her driver's license again, after having let it lapse for many years, took over driving the '58.  I was NOT in the car when Mom sideswiped the garbage truck...but I heard the stories...interestingly, there was not a scratch on the '58.

My sister was the first of the kids to learn to drive and to then drive that car.  Each of us took our turns learning to drive on that car, though as it is probably obvious to the casual reader, learning to drive in that car, did not equate to "having a car to drive."  No, we had to share the car with Mom, and each other, so, it was rare that we got to drive.  Still, the car was ours to use for the occasional date, or to run an errand for Mom, or even, once in a while, to drive to a babysitting job, or such.  Most of the time we crossed our fingers that the car kept running while in our sister, for sure, was left stranded more than once by this aging beauty.

When my youngest brother was 15, I believe, and a little BEFORE he was to have his turn learning to drive the car, he took the car for a "spin around the block."  Unfortunately, he "spun" it into the neighbor's yard and into their tree...and so, the '58 that successfully sideswiped garbage trucks, met its match.  I guess that would have been in about 1979.

So, you see, when I say I don't really watch movies, I am not kidding.  Even catching a glimpse of a scene in which there was a 1958 Chevy Station Wagon, sent my mind traveling back through the years and memories, and lost forever was any hope of even knowing WHAT movie was even playing!

1 comment:

mixednut555 said...

I am always amazed at how closely your life parellels my own. We too had a Chevy Station Wago, though I don't even know what year it was, but more than likely that same year and not new either. We took that car to Italy and I remember driving thru a very small village in that huge car. It was too big to turn around when we reached the end of a narrow street with no outlet. We had to back that station wagon all the way out of town. The people crowded around our car calling us CAPITALIST AMERICANS. I thought they were going to stone us. It was the first time I ever realized that something I thought was hideous and old could be looked on with envy from people who had nothing. We all learned to drive in that car too.