It’s so much easier on a bicycle, but cars are our indispensable mode of transportation.
The first car I remember was the old family Nash. I have no idea what year it was, but it was ancient and battered by the time it got to my father. I remember how huge it was, how the windows were so high that I had to stand up to see through them. It was like sitting inside a darkened cave. Most of all, I remember the battle of wills that my father had with that car. He never came to an understanding with the old Nash, and it was all too aware of his discontent. My father was an easy going guy, gentle and soft spoken, and rarely given to any display of temper. But that Nash had it in for him. It would deliberately wait until we were on a lonesome country road on a stormy late night before starting it’s consumptive coughing and sputtering. My father would be muttering under his breath and my mother would do her best to be upbeat and encouraging. Which only made the situation worse.
The final break between man and car happened on just such a night as we were returning home from visiting the grandparents in Ryderwood. The old Nash had given one last convulsive shudder , but it wasn’t finished yet. Right there, coasting to the side of the road, it decided to blow out two tires. Not one tire, but two at once! That was it. My father stomped off into the woods and we could hear his bellowing tirade of verbal abuse cresting in one intense wave after another. When he returned to the car he was silent, but you could tell that the effort was taking an enormous toll on him. There we were, stranded in the middle of nowhere. Everyone kept blankets in their cars back then, so we curled up on those scratchy cloth seats and waited for daylight. Grandma had sent wax paper wrapped sandwiches with us, since she had evidently expected some such disaster to befall us. Breakfast was great, we were having an adventure! My father took to prowling alongside the road, pacing up and down as he waited for a car to come along. Sure enough, a faint humming heralded the arrival of our rescue party. My father asked the man to please call the number he had scribbled on a piece of paper, gave him money for the call, and hoped for the best. Hours later his buddy Chuck Spoon arrived on the scene, read to hitch the old Nash up with a tow rope and take us all home. He had plenty of experience in towing this beast of a car. The Nash squatted there in defiance, lurching to one side with an ugly sneer on its grill. To my mothers shock and horror, my father shook his head and refused to bring the Nash back, saying it could rot where it was for all he cared.
I don’t even remember what our next car was, but evidently it had been warned. Never again was one of my fathers rag-tag cars abandoned on the side of the road. Some people are so smitten with cars that they trade them in with the same frequency that I go through socks- easy come, easy go. Not me. I buy a car once every twenty years. I bond with the car, establish a rapport, promise to always change the oil and take care of scheduled maintenance. My car and I have an understanding. Because I do not want to spend the night stranded on a lonesome highway, having seen too many scary movies that start out with just that scenario. Even though I have never in my life owned a Honda, I take my car to the Honda dealership for service. Once upon a time I bought a used van from Gordie over there, and they became my go-to place for the car. So, on a recent late summer day I confidently jumped in my faithful (old) car and turned the key. Something was definitely wrong- very, very wrong. I tried easing out of the driveway and discovered that I had no brakes! Yikes! Panic struck, I was headed out of town on a long trip, and Joe was at work. I tried to maintain my calm while I called over to the Honda shop and explained my dilemma. Pretty soon the tow truck arrived and off we headed to the car hospital. Within a few minutes the crew had swarmed around my ailing car and discovered that a vacuum hose clamp had come off. Presto- I was back on the road again. I wrung Kyle’s hand in gratitude, asked how much I owed him for this white knight rescue, knowing that any amount was reasonable. No, he said, no charge at all. If I hadn’t already been a longtime customer, this episode cemented my lifelong loyalty.
My husband made a list one day of the many cars he has owned over the years. Last count was 23. Granted, a lot of those were teenage beater cars, the kind you could pick up for under $200.00 back then. But still- 23! Not counting the van, which is only used for camping trips now, I’ve owned 4 cars. I still regret having sold the Volvo station wagon after twenty years of service. I figure I still have another eight years to keep my current car, and I know exactly where it will continue to go for service and repairs!
Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager of the Grays Harbor Farmers Market in Hoquiam. We adore our loyal customers too!
Grays Harbor Public Market