A Father’s Legacy in Wheels: The Untold Stories of My Dad’s Cars
A picture tells a thousand words. But the tire treads of my dad’s cars? Imagine the stories they could tell.
When I was in the single digits, on Saturday mornings, after I watched cartoons and slurped the sugar-laden milk left behind after all the Frosted Flakes were gone, it was errand time. (I used to think we were running “Aarons.” It was my cousin’s name, yet we never saw him while we were out. I thought it the strangest thing.) Even the smallest of trips put me on the edge of my seat with excitement.
If we took the station wagon, it was likely a trip to the recycling center. As a child, I was allowed to toss only cans and paper in their respective bins. But once older, I was entrusted with the glass. Glass! Clear in one bin. Brown in another. Green in yet another. I hurled them with all the might I had, reveling in the noises when my bottle made contact with the others and shattered in a million pieces. Breaking things down to be rebuilt again.
If we were in his red Toyota, maybe it was a trip to 905, the beer, wine, and liquor store where my father would bring back his empty Pepsi bottles and exchange them for new ones for the work week ahead. He always carried two bottles in his briefcase. I’m not sure the brown leather case ever carried anything else. While he made the exchange, I waited patiently behind him. On special days, I got to pick out a Chunky: a candy “bar” about two inches square and just as thick, filled with chocolate, raisins, and peanuts. I’ve never had them since.
As the heat of the St. Louis summers bore down on us, we’d take refuge on the Carolina shore. The trip would start as so many did: My father blaring the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” theme song on the stereo at oh-dark-thirty. It became the song of adventure. The battle cry for the unknown. While my father was maybe more Mark Harmon (NCIS-era) than Harrison Ford, we’d follow him anywhere. While the trip there took two days, the trip home always took one. We’d push through rest stop after rest stop, counting down the miles to home.
When I turned 16 and got my license on a snowy day in January, any thought I had of driving one of my father’s sports cars was quickly…