Back in the Day

My post about my trusty Dodge Durango, and whether my teenagers were embarrassed about riding in it, got me thinking about my own years at Knoxville Catholic High School.  It’s true these days that not only does every student old enough to drive seem to have their own vehicle, but almost all those vehicles are in much better shape than mine!  But it was not always so.
The way I remember it, there were plenty of kids with licenses who still relied on their parents–or even the city bus (remember, we were just a stone’s throw from downtown in those days)–to get them to school each day.  Many of those who did drive were borrowing the family car.  The few who had their own wheels were grateful for whatever they had.
Two of my close friends had their own cars.  Kim’s was a red Volkswagen Rabbit with hubcaps she had painted Irish green. 
Clark’s was a baby blue Maverick (and the memory of four of us stuffed un-seat-belted in the back seat while he pretended to be in England by driving on the wrong side of the road is one reason  I don’t think teenagers should drive).

The rest of us borrowed our parents’ cars when they could spare them.
Katrice was the lucky one–her dad had a nice car, a Nissan Maxima that actually talked to you to tell you when you needed to buy gas.  Gina was stuck with a blue sedan with a bumper sticker proclaiming: “America, Protect Your Unborn!”
As for me, I don’t know how my mother can even talk about embarrassing cars given what I had to borrow if I wanted to drive to school.  Sometimes my grandmother let me have her Chrysler LeBaron, which had automatic windows and velvet seats.  I considered it an elegant ride and didn’t mind a bit about the front license plate which read: “Let Me Tell You About My Grandchildren.”  (When it was my sister Betsy’s turn to borrow Mima’s car, she used to take the license plate off every time and then reattach it before returning it!)

Usually, though, I ended up with the family car, a yellow Dodge Reliant popularly known as a K Car. 
We called it the lemon and not because of the color.   Unbeknownst to us, before it came to us it had been in a severe wreck and then reconditioned.  The damage began to show up pretty soon.  The driver’s side door stopped opening , so that I had to crawl in from the passenger side.  It did not have third gear, so its top speed was 50.  Best of all, the radiator had an unfixable leak.  So every afternoon when it was time to go home, I had to go out to the car, get a pitcher, go back into the school and fill it up with water, and then go outside to fill the radiator so I could drive home.
At least I did not have to walk barefoot through the snow. 🙂

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