Thursday, June 21, 2018

Our Life Story Told By Our Cars #14-16

South Burlington, VT

I don't remember how or why we got this old Dodge. 
It was a pretty beat up car, but it was dependable.  It sat in the garage unused most of the time.  But I do remember two stories about it.
First, I was towing our sailboat to Maine for a family vacation.   While driving down the Massachusetts Turnpike, I felt a breeze.  I looked down and saw that the floor had fallen out and that I was looking down at the pavement.   I just covered the hole with something and drove it for several more years.

Another story had to do with the 2nd oil crisis in 1977 when for the first time, gasoline prices went over $1/gallon.  Horrors!  That seems so quaint now.   I went to fill up the Dodge and it took nearly $20!   I recall saying, "Soon we'll have to bring the Brinks money truck when we go to the gas station."

the Saab died, we needed a family car.  My father once again helped us to find this station wagon.   It was a very nice car.  Everyone in the family liked it. Of course the phony wood on the side was plastic, but we didn't care.  When we left for Sweden the 2nd time in 1982, I think we left this car and the Doge to my sister Nancy, but I'm not sure.

In Sweden
for the 2nd time in the 1980s, we bought this Toyota Corolla wagon.  I don't remember if it was new or used.   But it was a very pleasant, fun, and dependable car.  We liked that car as much as we hated the Volvo wagon we had before.    When we left Sweden in 1987, we sold the Corolla.

One funny story.   Nancy and Karl came to visit us in Sweden.  While they were there, they borrowed this car to get around.  One day they came back looking sheepish.  They admitted that they drove it off the road into a ditch and had to get towed out.   No damage though.

OMG the
stories about this van.  Buying this van was not my proudest moment.  In 1985, we returned to the USA for the summer as a family vacation.  John's girlfriend Helena came with us.   We visited my Dad in upstate NY, and helped him to host a wedding for Nancy and Karl.  Then, we wanted to go to Florida, and also to tow our sailboat there and put it up for sale.  What to do for transportation?

El cheapo me, found a van for sale in Syracuse.  The price was only $300 which suited me fine, because it ran.  I test drove it.  So, off we went, 6 of us in the van, a sailboat behind off toward Florida.

What a piece of junk that turned out to be.  The floor in the back had rusted out and it was covered with and Bricks.  There were also no seats in the back, so the kids had to lay on the floor.  So for the entire trip, they couldn't see out the windows, and they complained of headaches which turned out to be due to carbon monoxide.  OMG, what a bad parent I was.

But it got us to Florida and back.  It even got us to the tops of some mountains in West Virginia.  I recall pulling into a mountain top campground towing that sailboat.  An old mountain man was reclining near the entrance and chewing a blade of grass.  He said, "Who do you think you are, Noah?"

Another story with that van was the most shameful moment of my entire life.  I wrote about it before on this blog --- here.
In Saint Augustine, we anchored for the night just south of the Bridge of Lions. That bridge reminded me of one of the most ignoble and most embarrassing moments in my life. In 1985, we were living in Sweden but on vacation back in the states. We bought an old junker van to use for the vacation, and we drove from New York to Florida. We had a lot of trouble with the van during the trip. One problem was with the fuel line. It leaked. I did a temporary repair with duct tape, but the glue from the tape partially blocked the fuel line. The only way I could prevent the van from stalling at low speeds was to keep my foot full on the throttle.
One day, I crossed the Bridge of Lions in Saint Augustine. I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of people walking on the bridge. Some of them were walking on the roadway. I would have slowed or stopped for them, but the van would have stalled. Therefore, instead of stopping I leaned on the horn and made the people jump out of the way to avoid being run over as I barreled through at 40 mph. When we were nearly over the bridge I suddenly realized that the people were doing the Special Olympics. Well, I felt one inch high as I drove away, thoroughly ashamed of myself, but there was nothing I could do to undo the damage or to apologize.
But a second most shameful day was at the end of the summer when we were to return to Sweden.  We needed to fly out of JFK.  How to get there?   I had the idea of donating the van to Nancy and Karl.  We would drive to JFK, sign the van over to them, and leave.  Good plan.   But as we learned later, the van died within 5 miles of the airport, leaving Nancy and Karl stranded in the road waving their fists at the SAS plane flying over their heads taking us away in luxury. Shame on me.