"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Car stories: There was this time…

By on January 27, 2020 in Columnist with 0 Comments
Mike Cassidy

By Mike Cassidy

Editor

Reading Vicki Olson Carr’s story this month about Leo Miller and his car museum in Chelan turned my thoughts to some of my cars, especially, my first car.

It wasn’t even my car, it was my dad’s car. He bought a brand new VW Bug in 1967 for just under $2,000, and he was quite proud of it, as it was both his first new car, and, as he drove a rugged American-made dump truck on his job, he thought driving a tiny German car kind of funny.

Somehow, I convinced him to let a buddy and me drive it to California one year after the “summer of love.” And, to be especially cool and maybe attract the attention of hippie girls, we bought plastic flower decals about the size of dinner plates at the local dime store and attached them to the car in a random fashion.

Oh, we were colorful… but those California girls looked right past the flowers, saw the two geeky guys inside, and ignored us.

Just before arriving back home, we stripped the plastic flowers from the car … but, each one left an adhesive outline.

When my dad drove his new car to work, his truck-driving buddies quickly saw the flower outlines, and well, that being the 1960s with the generation divide and all, my dad was the butt of a lot of jokes and I didn’t get to take the car on long trips anymore.

I was curious about other early car stories, so asked some of our contributors this month for their stories.

Andy Dappen replied first, with a story that very much fits his personality. 

Wrote Andy: “The car we drive speaks loudly of what we value and how we perceive ourselves. 

“While interviewing for one of my earliest jobs in 1981, my boss-to-be asked (quite astutely) what I drove. The fact that I drove a VW beetle told him a lot about how I valued practicality and economy over flash and style. It told him that I probably knew a moderate amount about cars because beetles broke down so routinely. 

“And it told him I might actually accept the modest salary this particular job offered.”

Next, Susan Lagsdin logged in with her story about the vehicle she and Mike Irwin at age 30 traveled in:

“In 1980, Dorothy Dodge (named after our town of Twisp’s postmistress) was a faded and rumpled 10-year-old white panel van, cheaply converted for camping with a plywood backseat/bed and storage space. 

“It was an always-welcoming home and a sturdy mode of transportation for a great year of travel around the United States (an easy gig — she’d already been to Tierra del Fuego and back in a previous life). 

“Dorothy almost died of engine failure in Louisiana but was resuscitated by a quick infusion of family money.”

Vicki Carr had her own story about a problem car and family money, writing: 

“I bought a ‘53 Ford for $150 when I returned to college to get my teaching degree. I later bought a used VW with no gas gauge. 

“I ran out of gas on the summit of Blewett Pass while returning to Chelan for a weekend with family. I coasted all the way down to the first gas station on the right (where The Rock is now). I needed to run alongside and push it through a couple of spots. 

“I put 78 cents of gas in and made it home to Chelan. My loving grandma put a $10 bill in my jeans pocket so I could get back to E-burg and Central.”

Ah, those were the days: When you could happily sleep in the back of a van with your sweetie, when 78 cents of gas got you home and if you opened the hood on the engine of a car, you could actually make repairs yourself.

Sweet motoring. Enjoy The Good Life.

— Mike

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