Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


T'ain't So, T's Too

Jackie Spinks


Cars: Our First Love

In our old age, we have these two loves: (1) our mates (and that one can be “iffy) and (2) our cars. And no matter how much trouble they give us, they’re loved.

I remember those two weeks of fear before getting my driver’s license renewed. Worried, had they put a cap on age as they were suggesting on TV? On my God, and I was 83, would I be too old? Or would they make me take a driving test, in order to weed out the elderly? Fear! Fear! I’d never had any accidents. Did that matter? Probably not, as they give young people with a list of accidents driver’s licenses.

Over and over I heard stories of my fellow oldsters not getting their licenses renewed. So on the day I went for my driving renewal, the only thing I could think of to do was to get new glasses and look as young and perky as my 80+ year old physique made possible. And when I got my driver’s license renewed, I couldn’t have been more happy. I was walking on a cloud. If I’d just been made Speaker of the House it wouldn’t have had a more thrilling effect on me.

There was one period in my elderly years when I went without a car—lasted about ten months. I lost eight pounds, communed with nature, sauntered by and admired old cars and houses and talked to those working in their yards, thinking all the time, “How lovely the world is, how serene. Damn it, where’s my car? When am I going to get a car?”

Remember those 1940 years, when we were in high school, and when maybe one out of fifty kids owned a car and if a boy wanted to take a girl out on a date he had to borrow the family car,--if the family was lucky enough to have one.

The kid, who owned a car, even an old junker, that he’d saved and bought for $50.00, was envied by one and all. Boys that had cars would try to pick up girls walking along the sidewalk, offering to give them a ride home, and not for sex, (he knew better than to hope for that) but to show off his driving expertise and when she refused to ride with him he’d gun the car and tear off down the street.

I can totally understand my Dad’s love of our old Model A.
France has wine, England has the royal family, but America has cars. Will we ever love again as we did those first horseless buggies that Ford whipped out so many years ago?

If having a job was the most important thing during the Depression, owning a car was the second.
On Sunday afternoons if we weren’t touring the town looking for houses, Mom wouldn’t have on a bet, Daddy and my uncles would stand around and examine each other’s car.

They’d circle them, kick tires, frown, compare mileage and point out the superior attributes of this or that make, regale each other with stories of breakdowns and their emergency treatments.
One or another of the men, usually Dad, would break from the group, mutter this or that, rub a fender, shake his head, look serious and finally, like a surgeon, who washed up and was preparing for an operation, open the hood and peer into her inner viscera.
The uncles would languidly mosey over and look inside too.

They’d argue on the diagnosis, “Think it’s the crank shaft?”
“Have you checked the oil?”

The questioner would get a look. And I mean a LOOK, as if checking and changing the oil was a sacred rite, and he’d accused the owner of rejecting the providence of God—what could the owner say. It didn’t merit an answer.

“Hey, kids, let’s go for a spin? Show these corkers there’s plenty of juice left in the old flivver.”

“I wish it had a rumble seat. Sam’s dad has a car with a rumble seat,” my cousin said.

“Just get in!” Daddy was huffy about my cousin’s criticism of “ Old Faithful .”

We were ignored in the back seat. This was serious business. Everyone was listening to the engine.
“Do you hear that knock?”

“Yeah, what do you think it is?”


“How about that ping? It’s been there for a long time.”

“If it’s been there for a long time, you probably don’t need to do anything about it.”
And they’d analyze, these young men, who’d come from the Old World and hadn’t been raised with cars.

We lived on a street where cars seldom traversed, so when a car came by, it could be the oldest clunker around and we’d yell, “Hey, a car’s coming and if Dad was home from work, he’d come out to take a look and would say something like, “Well, what do you know—an old Essex.”

Will we ever love machines as we did then. Love with the humble adoration, those men, who’d lived with nature most of their younger lives had for cars. Will we ever be as infatuated with technology as we were with out first mechanisms. I know we now have Ipods, Blackberries, Internets, Ipads, Podcasts, etc, but we, oldsters could care less about them. We’re still in love with our cars.



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