Monday, March 23, 2015

My life long love of wheels ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Creativity is a fickle thing. I go weeks without a decent idea for a column, and then they’re swarming around like mosquitos on a warm summer night.

Last week when I logged onto my computer to write, I was unsure of a topic. Then I
remembered reading it was Peanut Butter Lover’s Month so I was off and running.

I felt smug after finishing that piece and decided to take a long walk to enjoy the sunshine. Before I reached the barn, I had three more killer column ideas. I love it when that happens.

That’s how I came up with the idea to write about wheels. If you’re like my lovely spouse, you’re probably saying, “Huh?” But I’ve loved wheels all my life.

I learned to roller skate not long after learning to walk. When I was younger, there were a couple of skating rinks where we lived. 
Every Saturday afternoon, my mom would take my older sister Mary Lois and me to skate. I thought it was because she loved us, but I came to understand it was to get a few minutes of peace.

I later graduated to bicycles. My first bike was a 26-inch Huffy as red as a barn with what looked like a fuel tank between the two braces that ran from the seat to the front forks. I often clipped playing cards on the forks with clothespins, lapping it over enough so that one edge of the card flapped against the spokes. It sounded like the Huffy had an engine. It was lame I know, but it didn’t take much to amuse me then. The bike brought a sense of freedom. I loved that bike.

Then when I turned 15, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven.  My mom gave me a car on my birthday. It was a 1946 Plymouth Coupe. She didn’t actually buy the car. It came into her possession when my brother couldn’t repay the money he owed her. He borrowed heavily to paint the old car, buy new tires, and moon hubcaps as shiny as silver dollars. 

He was about to move to California to work and couldn’t come up with the cash to repay the loan, so he regretfully gave her the car. 

That was just before my birthday, so she gave it to me. That old car was a peach. It had mohair seats, that smelled like an expensive sweater….not that I knew what an expensive sweater smelled like back then, but later when I did smell one, the memory of how that old car smelled came rushing back.

It also had what looked like an ivory gearshift knob, and a pair of fuzzy dice slung over the rearview mirror that swayed like a hula girl as I drove down the road. 

The cigarette lighter still worked as well as the radio. The face of the dial was cloudy and amber colored from age, but when I’d turn the radio on, it buzzed and crackled until it warmed up. When the tiny red indicator bar crossed WVOK or WSGN on the dial, they came through loud and clear.  

I loved that old car too, but my dad got tired of looking at it while I was serving in the Army and sold it.

Everyone has things in their lives they love, but for me, I’ve always loved the freedom that comes with wheels.


  1. You always remember your first!

  2. Those clunky old bicycles were easier to balance I think. And I have been attached to several cars. Isn't it strange to feel a connection with an inanimate object that cannot return the affection?

  3. Mine was a '48 Chevy. Dad sold it while I was away in the USMC. Love the pic on the fender of the '56 Ford. Of course it is a great entry, just the mention of an old classic and a picture of a small part of an old car causes me to salavate. Thanks for kicking in the memory lane.
    BTW tonight Sherry took a big spoonful of p-nut butter and said, "I am celebrating, Rick said it was P-Nut butter month.
    Take care, we have 5 days then head north where the work is. hahaha

  4. I never really thought about just howI wheels are important things in most of our lives. They are one of those things we tend to take for granted, but from skates to cars there have been many wheels in my life too.

  5. Love your Sunday column story about wheels and the photo, I assume it's you warming your butts on the front bumper of your dad's car. Nice trip down Memory Lane.
    Have a great week.


  6. The cars we used to get are far different from what kids get today. My first was a 1971 Ambassador:) Let's just say bondo worked well

  7. Mine was a Pink Panther Pontiac It had white bucket seats. I loved it.

  8. Wheels are an excellent topic! I always have a journal on hand to jot those amazing ideas, because I will never remember them. Such is flat-tire memory.

  9. I must be one of the few guys who grew up not caring that much about cars. They were a necessity, but I didn't put much thought into them. Still don't. Must be something wrong with me.

  10. Anonymous1:06 PM

    I love antique auto shows, with the cars in pristine condition!!

  11. For me a car is something to get me from A to B, that said when car shopping I know what I like and what I don't but it is not that big a deal

  12. What great memories. The detail really drew me in-


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