Leonard was always looking for the deal–the one that would give him the most bang for his buck and the safest ride for his family of seven. The year: 1978. It would still be awhile before minivans would hit the market and grow in popularity faster than speed limits on highways. Station wagons and sedans were the way to go back then and whether you chose one with wood paneling on the side or a luggage rack on top, you were sure to be keeping up with your neighbors and fellow parishioners.
Dad always overlooked our expressions when he rolled up with his used cars.
The maroon Taurus that eventually sported one green fender after an accident: “no one will notice,” he said.
The light blue Chevy Caprice Classic, a boat of an automobile. The seats felt like velvet to the touch and was high class with its spacious trunk big enough for groceries-and a dead body.
The Buick Park Avenue, fancy, yet totally a Grandma car.
You get the idea- we gave Dad a hard time about each and every car he bought with his hard earned money.
I remember, however, the time that Dad disappeared for an afternoon and then snuck in the driveway honking a BRAND NEW yellow Ford Country Squire. This was it! Finally a shiny new car to be proud of.
I’ll never forget its many outstanding features:
-brown vinyl seats
-room for all seven of us
-a gigantic dashboard with more knobs and dials than one could possibly know what to do with
-a back door that swung outward
-seats that popped up in the way back of the car-perfect for my brother and me to call dibs on, and our special place away from “the sisters”
As we took it out for a celebratory spin on that late summer afternoon, Mom at the wheel, we headed to Dairy Queen for Peanut Buster Parfaits and Dilly Bars. Driving down Main Street in Longmont, the passersby were sure to hear our “oohing and ahhing” over all the bells and whistles in the new car. As Mom was trying to focus, surely as nervous as one could be behind the wheel of a new car for the first time, she pulled to a stop at the railroad crossing just as the lights and bells warned of an oncoming train. The noise of five kids had distracted her so much that she ended up a wee bit too close as one of the red and white railroad crossing bars barreled down and landed on the hood of the brand new station wagon.
It was the first time I ever remember my dad yelling at the top of his lungs at all of us. I thought they’d surely be divorcing the following morning at church.
Needless to say, we didn’t see many brand new cars after that.