I Learned it From Dad

 I blame my Dad for a lot of things: My fast-growing hair, my giant feet with the high instep, and my Jif peanut butter habit. (Jif is light years better than Skippy, Peter Pan, or the house brands). Not to be negative, but those are the things I rib my Dad as being "his fault". Its fun to rib Dad. We all do it. There's also positive traits that I can trace back to my Pops, including being a good reader of people, the ability to take the reigns when the going gets tough, and the ability to speak the truth instead of what people want to hear. These attributes that I picked up from Dad have served me well at work and at home for many years. I'm grateful for the inspiration.

Above all else, I'd say the one major thing I took from my Dad  is my love for all things 4-wheeled. From a young age I remember auto parts store runs with him, watching him check the fluids on the family station wagon, and holding the work light while he tuned up the old car. He's the one who taught me how to time an engine. Dad's the one that taught me what a carburetor does, and what a starter solenoid's job entails. But where did he pick up the love for cars?

On the way up to a Vintage Chevrolet Club of America meet this past week, we had a nice 45-minute commute in Mom's 1986 Cavalier RS convertible. Dad taught me how to drive in this very car, and my Mom still occasionally drives it to work on sunny days. During the drive, Dad recalled his early drives with his Grandmother in her big, comfy maroon 1952 Dodge. He told stories of riding around Milwaukee running errands with her, and watching her take care of the car. My Great Grandma Scott always drove everywhere, and Dad's memory of a trip to the Dodge dealership in 1956 was as crystal-clear today as if it happened last week. He said his Grandma took him to the dealership to take delivery of a new 1956 Dodge and trade in the old maroon one. While taking care of the paperwork, a 3 year-old Dad wandered around the Dodge showroom and took in the tailfins. He recalls the chrome trim, the colors, and the interior fabric of the new Virgil Exner-designed Dodges. When the deal was finalized, Grandma told him it was time to go home in their new car...and Dad got upset. The new Dodge didn't look like "Grandma's Car", it was different. He told me he cried when they left the dealership, and he said he "didn't like her car" because it was such a radical change for the little guy to handle. Change is hard for a 3 year-old.

Little Steve Scott and Great Grandma's '56 Dodge Custom Royal
  Over time, Pops learned to accept the new addition to the Scott family. All of this was going on while the Scott family welcomed another addition, my Uncle Brian.  Dad spent a few more days with Grandma & Grandpa and rode around in the Custom Royal sedan some more. After while, the vinyl & cloth seats with the red flecks became a comforting sight, because they usually meant a trip with Grandma to somewhere fun. The Dodge shuttled them from their house off of Kinnickinnic Parkway to places like the American Soda Company on South 43rd Street, where Dad would watch the cases of soda roll off the conveyor. It likely took him to the Milwaukee Zoo or to a grocery store where he probably helped Grandma shop. This car, Dad remembers, was a ticket to adventure. Cars still are that ticket today, and Dad always enjoys a road trip.

As we drove through the Wisconsin countryside, more stories about the Dodge unfolded. It eventually got passed down to Dad's Uncle Rod, and was subsequently 'stolen' by some of his friends who pranked him by covering the car with mud and weeds accompanied by tall tales of driving off the road. It served the family for many more years and just became another family car. But in 1956, a trip to the Dodge dealership and a ride in a new sedan made my Dad aware of cars and how large of a role they play in our lives. They were, and still are, the way we get from point A to point B. They're the promise of new beginnings, and the genesis of many stories. Stories that Dads share with their sons while driving a family car with stories of its own. Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thanks for a great week together, and for rubbing off a little bit.

Dad and the Cavaliers at the VCCA Middle West Meet.


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