Sunday, April 28, 2013

highway from present to past

Me driving The Yellow Betty
The weather has been wonderful in my neck of the woods.  I decided to crank up my 73 Super-beetle after a long Winter of not driving it.  No need for air-conditioning since the climate is so perfect ~ just roll down a window.  I love the sound of the motor.  I enjoying driving the straight.  Nothing drives or feels like an old classic VW.  It's a unique experience all it's own.

It's a time machine!  As I drive my mind goes back in time.  The first time I ever climbed into a bug was back in the 60's.  My dad brought a pretty dark blue bug home and all the family wanted to go for a ride together.  We were a large family.  We would've been more comfortable if we had jammed ourselves in a telephone booth.  It was very exciting, riding around the mountain packed in like sardines.  I rode in the very back storage compartment.  My butt was very small back then.

Dad didn't keep that one, but later owned a sedan and later a 412.

Brook owned quite a few over time.  We'd get rides to school.  I'd get a ride to and from Boy Scout meetings.  Brook couldn't pass a big puddle up in his bug.  He'd go out of his way for a splash.  Brook and I also made many trips to Bethlehem Camp in  the Summer in his bug.  VWs were part of our life.  They seemed to be everywhere back in the day.

I remember Jim Young, SR driving Little Jim and me to Cumberland Caverns for a scouting venture in one of his old VW buses.  I remember the bus smelt like an ashtray.  Little Jim and I ate beanies-weenies cold right out of a can.  We thought we were on the biggest adventure of our lives.

Big Jim also gave me and  Little Jim a ride through the woods in one of his old chopped bugs.  Jim and I were pals in elementary school.  One day Jim's dad picked us up from school.  I had been asked to spend the night.  One the way home Big Jim made a sharp right ~ right into the woods.  It blew my mind.  We were riding a car in the road, no trail, no nothing.  He made his own way through the woods and eventually pulled back on Fairview Road and made for home.

Emory Boggs drove up one day with a brand new pretty blue VW he bought from DePaul Motors.  I'd never seen a VW bug that was a straight shift before.  It was always fun going places with Emory.

I remember when I first got my license, Brook taught me how to drive a shift.  Mary Maddox tried to teach me how to start a bug on a hill.  I was clumsy dancer with the the gas, clutch and brake pedals.  It took me a while to get the hang of that.  I was embarrassed that I couldn't get that bug going in front of Mary.

Diane Van Norden was a dear friend who would drive up often from Chalmette Louisiana to Gadsden, AL to visit the Finlayson family.  I thought she was a mighty adventurous and brave young lady to be jumping in her bug to come up and see me.  I only drove down there once.  Diane usually drove up, wanting to hang with the entire Finlayson clan and the Finlayson clan loved seeing her.  It was always great seeing her little blue bug pull up our driveway.  I was always sad to see her drive away in that bug of hers.

My first car was a 73 bug that I bought from Brook.  I drove down to Bonifay, FL and then to Jay, FL that trip.  That was my first and last solo trip to camp Bethlehem.

Somewhere during that time I drove up in that same bug to see my friend Doug  Moore at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY.  Had some car trouble on the way back.  I made a stop to call and tell my parents that I probably wouldn't make it home that day.  The weird thing is, when I got back in the car after making that call ~ it's started and ran like a top all the way home.  I could physically feel my parents prayers in the car with me.  That was a pretty cool moment.

I remember driving places to sing.  That little 73 bug of mine could hold my guitar, a six channel mixer, a power amp and two Bose speakers with some room to spare.  I'd often hook up with my friend Michael Bynum to play at a little gathering somewhere.  Good times!

I remember hopping in Brook's bug to go to a  Linda Ronstadt concert in Tuscaloosa, AL. The belt broke around Ashville, AL.  Brook had a belt on hand and a good Samaritan helped with the tool Brook needed to make the repair.  For a minute there I thought we were going to miss the concert, but we arrived in plenty of time.  It was a great day and a great concert.

As a single guy in the early eighties, I'd go to the drive-in and watch a double feature at the Rebel Drive-In.  At the time I had a dead end job and I usually didn't want to just go home to go to bed to end up waking up to go back to the sweatshop.  So ~ I smuggle a box of KFC into the drive-in and watch whatever was playing that night.  The old Rebel was fading by that time and sometimes I'd find myself the only patron parked there.

I later sold that bug and bought my Renault LeCar.  It would've been nice if I had kept both cars, but I didn't need two cars at the time.  That was the last VW I owned until my mother in-law, Betty Hale,  made a gift of her little yellow pride and joy.  I promised her that I would take very good care of it and treat it just as good as she treated it.  Betty bought it new, when Gina (my wife) was 10 years old.  It was the car in which Gina learned to drive.

So I'm driving my VW around this Summer.  Children point and people smile and wave.  Almost everywhere I go, someone stops me and tells me about the bug they used to own.  They have good memories too.  Driving my beetle brings to mind people I've known and places I've been.  Driving my beetle takes me where I need to go and also takes me back.

Gina posing next to her mom's new car.
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