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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Was I always this sentimental?

Yes, apparently I was.


It's funny how a memory or feeling can be triggered quite randomly;  for a moment you may even find yourself reliving it.

I live near a somewhat busy country highway, with homes staggered throughout.  On my drive to work this morning I spotted a house with a side lot being used for new Volkswagen storage. I imagine this is rented space for unsold stock from the dealer down the road.  While VW sales have been up on the whole (despite a series of scandals) they are certainly dwindling here in Canada. I was seriously interested in the Golf Diesel wagon until I read about all the fuel pump issues.

I am however, getting off track.

For some reason, as I drove by all those (probably unwanted) cars,  my mind drifted back to 1982.

I have spoken about Victor, our family car at the time in previous posts.  He was a cheerful 1969 red Beetle that my dad bought new, chosen by a narrow margin over an Austin 1100. Considering my father's level of patriotism and belief in the home product, it was a bit of a surprising purchase.

Even at a young age,  I always felt that Victor was a friend;  It was through his small rear windows that I first experienced the world outside of our home.  Being in the backseat almost exclusively, I was also the closest to his mechanical heart, beating reliably on every trip we took.  My favourite being the hour long drives to my grandparent's house in the country.

Victor was a very tough and determined little car;  I vividly remember the brutal winter storm of 1977 during which my sister was born.  The hospital was at the top of a tall escarpment, a 330ft climb from where we lived.  All that could be seen was the blinding white of blowing snow; the high winds repeatedly struck Victor's body as he held true to course.  As larger, more powerful vehicles laid helplessly by the way side, he carved his path and by God, nothing would get in his way!

We had many more memories and many, many good times over the next few years.  The most amusing incident being my father's absolute refusal to allow a bushel of Sauerkraut (the exact expletive laden slur directed at the Germans escapes me) in his car.  My mother was forced to pack it in the front with the spare tire.

Fast forward to the fall of 1982, sometime before Halloween.  It was a Tuesday and my father announced that he would be picking me up from Cubs.  I was strangely uneasy about this as he had never picked me up and we only lived a block away. (Unlike today's bubble wrap children, we actually walked everywhere, something I am quite proud of!)

I would point out that I didn't distrust my father in any way, however I couldn't escape an awful feeling that had grown in the pit of my stomach.  In retrospect this was an early example of instinct and to a lesser degree premonition that has been with me since.

It was rather cool that night as I stood outside the church alone.  I felt comforted when I heard Victor's distinct exhaust note coming around the corner.  My dad was somewhat ambiguous about where we were going, only that it was a surprise.  Was I being sent to military school?  were we moving? I really had no idea.  The drive to our destination seemed painfully slow, but we had arrived.

 It was a car dealership in the east end of the city.  I looked up and saw a strange word on the sign.  N-I S-S-A-N. I sounded this out to myself, unsure of what a Nissan was (Datsun were transitioning the brand at this point; some cars actually had both badges on them).

We got out of  Victor and walked over to a rather boring looking blue station wagon in a row of other boring station wagons.  Dad informed me that it was ours and he would be picking it up the next day.  'What about Victor?' I asked.  Dad explained that while our family had grown, Victor had not.  It was time for him to find a new home.

  Suddenly that awful feeling I had was justified, knowing that I would have to say goodbye to a good friend.  To my father's credit he was excited to have something new and wanted to include me in a traditional father-son experience.  To my credit, I asked lots of questions and attempted to bury my disappointment.  At least that's how I remember things.

Now that the Sentra had come home, Victor was relegated to the parking spot behind our backyard fence.  I would visit with him everyday, sometimes sitting inside and pretending to drive him away.  I worried that someone in the alley would steal him or smash a window.  Fortunately I could still see him from my bedroom.  When he was put up for sale, nobody wanted him.  On the one hand I felt badly for him and on the other,  I hoped we could keep him.

Beetles were garden variety in those days and plentiful.  Victor had one distinct advantage in that he was completely rust free due to a Ziebart treatment when new.  Eventually he was sold to the neighbour's son who bought it for his wife.  With fresh paint and a tune up, Victor was resplendent. That was my last memory of him and I cherish it.  Through a VIN search a few years ago  I discovered that he was sold again in 1985, the last time he was registered.  I'd like to think he is still being looked after by a caring owner.

My one remaining piece of Victor, as displayed on my garage cabinet. 



Is it wrong to love a car or motorcycle?  Not as far as I'm concerned. To choose to love anything or anyone is the noblest pursuit.  With the knowledge that all things must end, it is the bravest thing to be capable of.

As for the memories?  Hopefully the good ones live on forever.



Not the actual Victor, but identical.








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