Blog Archives

The Family Car

February 21, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, see the Mom Before Mom category for more of my posts in this series:

How did you get your name?
How did you celebrate childhood birthdays?
What was your childhood bedroom like?
What was your favorite home cooked meal?

This week’s prompt: What kind of car did your family drive? What played on the radio? Where did you sit? Take us on a road trip.

sunny road, learning to drive, 70's cars, driving in the 70's, Carol and Paula, The magic garden, yellow vega, Do you remember Paula and Carol on the kids show, The Magic Garden?

As soon as I read this prompt, the first thing I thought of was my Mom’s OLD yellow Vega with wood paneled sides. My sister, Beth, and I would pull the seat belts from the front (did they even make seat belts in the back in the 70’s?) and we would make swings out of them. We’d sit on the straps pretending to be long-haired, guitar-playing singers. The yellow Vega, good times.

The next family car I remember is another imitation-wood paneled mobile, a green station wagon, in which we all begged to sit in “the way back,” the third seat that faced backwards. No one was buckled in. We’d sometimes even stand up behind my Dad driving and rub his shoulders or sit on “the hump” in the middle of the floor of the back seat.

In later years, my Mom drove Hondas and my Dad drove Buicks, though there was the impractical, sporty white Mazda RX7 that my Mom loved until she got stuck on a steep hill with the standard shift! That was a fun car, not a family car.hide and seek moon game, moon games, car games, siblings in the car, kid distracting in car, driving with kids, moon through the trees,

On night drives, Beth and I would look out the windows and play a hide-and-seek kind of game with the moon. “Moon, moon, come out, come out, wherever you are,” and we’d search for it on different sides of the car as we followed the winding roads.

Behind the car memories that make me smile, I have a hazy vision of using the seat lines to divide up space between my brother, sister and me. These were creases that could not be crossed without peals of “Ma-om! He’s on my side!”

One car had an 8-track player and we’d listen to Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Carpenters, and Bobby Vinton. Or we’d talk. If he wanted to talk with us or instill some wisdom, my Dad would pull one of us aside with the invitation that was really a directive, “Let’s go for a ride,” and we’d slip out together. Many a talk of life, boys, problems, or praise happened driving along with my Dad. He still does that now (but no longer drives Buicks).

I sat in the front seat at some point, certainly younger than we let our kids, and my Mom used to shoot her arm out across me when she was stopping short or someone cut her off. She knew it wouldn’t do anything to really save me, but it was her automatic mother-reaction. In her car, she’d tote us around and deliver Meals on Wheels.

My Dad always upgraded to the latest model car with the newest gadgets. He had an early model “car phone” installed in one car, it was like the one in the movie Sixteen Candles that was wide and thick and awkward, but it was SO COOL!

8 track tape, 70's music, orange 8 track, The Carpenters, Buicks, old car phones, green station wagons, third seat in family car, Driving on longer trips, my parents would sometimes find an oldies station and would shout out the names of the songs and dig into their memories for the names of the singer or band. I laugh at that so often as Nick and I now blare songs from our youth and subject the kids to shouted choruses and name that tune. At least our songs aren’t “oldies.”

They’re not, right?

Growing up, our cars, much like a kitchen in a home, were central to family life. Functional transportation, yes, but really, community on wheels.

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