VW owned by Shinazy
It’s December 1969. I’m writing a check for $1,700, making me the proud owner of a Tan Volkswagen Beetle, equipped with a powerful 54 hp engine and an Automatic Stick Shift transmission. Yes, VW made automatics, actually semi-automatics, I still shifted through the gears, but no choreographing my feet, as there was no clutch pedal – Hallelujah. However, this improvement decreased the power, but it was easier to operate. And operate it I did, for the next thirty-eight years.
My VW reflected my personality, became my middle child, and a character in my history. My daughter is a few years older than my VW and twelve years older than her brother, so most of my adult history involved undertakings with my three children.
One of my daughter’s birthdays, I hauled eleven pre-teen girls and my friend, Jean, to play miniature golf. As I stood in the driveway staring at the Bug, then at the mob of girls, then the car . . . How was I going to get all these bodies into such a tiny space? Could I use dad’s college-students-crammed-into-a-phone-booth technique to continue the birthday celebration? What about everyone’s comfort and survival? Like logs in a cord of wood I stacked the girls, they thought this was the best thing we did all day.
Creating childhood memories was as much fun for me as it was for my children. Being mom gave me another chance to play, be silly, experience life. I also wanted to create holiday traditions. Every Christmas there was the excursion to the tree farm. Folks in the parking lot with their trucks and station wagons would stare as I lashed a tree, longer and wider than my Beetle, onto the roof and proceeded to secured it with lines and knots that would hold the Titanic to any dock.
The Bug was more than my tree toting truck. One Labor Day, returning from Volcano, CA, roasting in stop-n-go traffic, my son and I decided a water fight would be a welcomed activity. While sitting inside the car – a plastic interior has its advantages – we splashed each other until we looked like it had rained. There we sat, all wet and smiling and cool. We stopped at every gas station to refill our bottles … and the battle continued.
Although there were many joyous experiences, the lack of power was always an issue. When my son finally weighed 100 pounds I stopped parking the VW in the up hill direction. It’s hilly here so this parking technique was …if not impossible, at least, impractical. Whenever it was the two of us in the VW, I would have him walk to the corner and wait for me; I’d eventually get there, and then, there was the incident when his grandmother was a passenger and he had to give the VW a push to get the bug moving.
During the entire thirty-eight-Bug-driving years I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area where freeway on-ramps were driveway entrances to bumper-car traffic. And, around here anywhere I went I encountered undulating streets. All this resulted in me driving in the slow lane watching cars flash by at the posted speed limit, while I visualize my car passing the slower car ahead.
Every few years, when I just could not take it any more, I’d decide to “buy a fast car.” After a few months the urge would pass and I’d continued to be passed, but it all stopped in 2007. Oh, did it ever … zoom, zoom.
My sister wanted me to end this story with these words: “And my sister was soooo thrilled when she no longer had to ride with me in this classic car?”
Little does she know it was her visit that started the twenty-five year plan to go from zip to zoom. But that’s another story.
photo by shinazy
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