It’s official. My daughter’s 1988 Ford Crown Victoria LTD is being picked up by a tow truck this week. It will be delivered to the junk yard, where its pieces will hopefully keep another kindred spirit alive and kicking for a few more months or years. I consider its death a positive contribution to other makes and models in need of parts in good condition.
A new car has taken up residence in our driveway, however, and it’s not a Ford. Let’s just say it’s exactly what my daughter wanted. It takes me back to my first new car, which was actually used, or should I say pre-owned. It was a 1977 Chevy Monte Carlo.
Eventually the driver’s side door hung from its hinges. My efforts to lift the door long enough to close it were only temporary. Eventually, no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t shut it. My arms were tired so someone helped me close the door for good. Then I found myself entering through the passenger door, climbing over the bucket seat and console, and then taking my place in the driver’s seat. Quite a feat, especially when you’re wearing a dress and high heels.
This brings me to today’s point. An unfortunate change has taken place over the last two or more decades, which is the camaraderie of car repair. I miss the guys getting together to work on cars. I suppose I can’t speak for “the guys,” but they seemed to enjoy it and I miss hearing them talk in the garage and in the neighbors’ driveways.
Most of the time I had no idea what they were talking about, but that didn’t matter. I was proud when they fixed or attempted but didn’t fix our car, their car or someone else’s. Some of their successful repairs were a result of experience, while most were a test of trial and error. That’s what always amazed me. I’d ask, “How did you do that?” The response was usually, “I just kept trying until I figured it out.”
Now we’re lucky if we can change our car’s oil in our own driveway. We are forced to take our newer models to the dealership. That’s a good thing for me, but I still miss the guys’ “car talk.” Maybe that’s why I love listening to “Car Talk” on National Public Radio’s local station, KCUR 89.3 FM (Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m.).
Anyway, I think car repair was more than mechanics. While its purpose brought us together, it bound us tightly as a community of friends and neighbors. When the day’s work was done, it was only the beginning of sharing meals, games and visiting.
I suppose as a society we replace those things that once brought us together. But many times we must seek them. There are endless activities in our neighborhoods that each of us have found or will find purpose. Now that spring is here, so are our community gardens, but more about that next time. Until then, enjoy listening to “Car Talk.” Au revoir!