I Learned it From Dad
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|
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.