Cars

 

Dave had his Austin Healy. Frank his Fairlane; Ralph had a Pinto, Joe the Fiat and George the Audi. Dad had a varied succession of vehicles through the years, from the White Valiant station wagon up to the AMC station wagon, his last one.

The green and white van; camping trips and Joe driving us around in it to the gigs during the band days, Ralph with his home stereo speakers in there blasting Earth wind and Fire as he drove up the street. So many cars, so little space on Downey Street.

Sometimes they had to park blocks away because even those days parking places were at a very high premium, and the driveway was mostly off limits. Dad had exclusive rights to the driveway and rightly so- thatís just the way it was.

All this brings to mind the cars that our many neighbors had too, like the big old black fifties car that Joe Ross had, or the Impala that belonged to Winkie. Billy T in that little green car, drunk as usual as he tried to park while bumping everything else.

Not to be left out, there was Grampa in either his Beetle or that Volkswagen van, and he could hardly parallel park either. It was quite amusing being up there on the front porch looking down watching him do his thing.

Iíll never forget Auntie Juliet pulling and fighting with the steering wheel trying to get it right, and finally emerging from the car huffing and puffing, all out of breath from the big struggle; those were the dayís way before power steering.

There were so many cars that Iíll never even be close to remembering them all, and yet who could? But for as many that are forgotten there are still so many that remain in the mindís eye and memory still keeps them viable and vibrant.

In those cars we drove around everywhere with everybody, family and friends alike just as we do nowadays doing everything. So even now as we are less adventurous when it comes to cars I remember in a wistful mood.

And for all that the more contemplation and reflection set in, certain moments flash in and out of view in my mind; as I am sure all of us experience. Dad driving the truck in the thickest fog Iíd ever seen going to the Sacramento River.

Memories of us smoking weed in Daveís broke down GTO in front of the house, how big the moon looked as we drove back to the city from Hanna Boyís Center during the winter months; Riding around all over town in Robinís Firebird.

In retrospect the Street seemed a lot bigger, or perhaps my memory makes it seem so much larger than reality.  And last year when Ralph drove me by there I marveled at all that vehicles that were parked in so little space, and I thought of the cars.

The Truck, the Van, the Station Wagons and the Austin Healy, Fairlane, Pinto, Fiat and the Audi. It wasnít much of stretch to have to park way over on Carl Street for the guys, but it never really bothered me much, I didnít have a car for many years.