It’s hard to tell where my taste for certain foods originated; why grilled hamburgers are so absolutely wonderful, why ice cream cries out to be enjoyed by the bowl full, why good coffee sometimes just hits the spot. But my love for cars . . . and one car in particular . . . that can easily be tied to one specific memory.
My father’s black 1951 Plymouth will always hold a special place in my memory. And the 1963 Plymouth Fury (push button automatic) was the white chariot he used to transport us across the country to our new home in Arizona in the summer of 1963. The Fury eventually became mine in December 1974. And from that time on I have made my own additions (1976 Volkswagon Rabbit, 1983 Pontiac Bonneville, 1988 Chevy Celebrity wagon, 1995 Chevy Lumina, 2000 Chevy Metro, 2000 Dodge Caravan, 2001 Chevy Metro, and a 2004 Toyota Corolla – my father’s posthumous gift to me).
But they all pale in comparison to the Corvette Stingray.
When I was a young teen I got to ride in a Corvette Stingray. I think this is the only time I have ever had a ride in a Corvette. I sat in one just a couple of months ago; it was brand new, and the owner was kind enough to let me gawk up close. But that is it! That is the extent of my experience with Corvettes.
And yet . . . I love them. I am enthralled with them. I even collect 1/32 scale metal models of them.
The ride I took was with an older friend named Alfred (who was quite the playboy); it was a mid to late 60s Corvette (I can’t be certain of the year). I was in late junior high school, or possibly the 9th grade (the first year of high school in AZ).
That car could turn “on a dime” (as my Daddy used to say). It was a dark sparkling blue color if my memory serves me correctly. The power and acceleration were remarkable!
And that is the extent of my up-close exposure to Corvettes. Not impressive, is it? But that’s all it took.
One car. One ride. One memory. But a lifetime of effect.
And that amazes me, quite frankly! I guess it could be like so many other things I have wished for, i.e. once you have them you really aren’t that happy with them, and you find it was the longing for them that really possessed you, not the thing itself.
Not a chance! Have you SEEN a Corvette?
What is arresting to me is the thought that one exposure to something, or someone, can set a person on a course that lasts a lifetime. That . . . is profound, indeed.
And it leaves me wondering how seriously I take the effect I bring to my relationships. The words I say, the actions I engage in. I wonder what longings my two daughters will carry with them through their lives, longings that I helped create (possibly by one act, one word). I wonder what effect I will have on my wife, my grandson. And others.
People are like walking indelible ink stamps; we go about our day marking the folks with whom we interact, stamping them with our own unique badge, our logo, the ensign that represents the world inside us. And yet, sometimes we are in awe of the wreckage we leave in our wake, or by contrast – the good that results. We are clueless. Unaware that our words, our actions could matter so much.
But they do.
When I turned 50 years old a decade ago my family surprised me with a trip to Austria. Six days (including travel) of adventure that I will never forget: Salzburg and Mozart, Vienna and Beethoven, Easter in Franz Joseph Haydn’s church, the Sound of Music tour. Amazing!
That trip also included a trip to Mauthausen, a German concentration camp near Linz. Unforgettable . . . in its own right. The “hills” were “alive” that day, but not with the sound of music; rather, the ghostly cries of the hopeless.
I have been marked forever by both the beauty I saw in Austria – and the horror.
It is not likely I will have an opportunity to return to Austria in my lifetime. So . . . one visit will have to suffice. But sometimes . . . that’s all it takes to make an indelible impression.
But we were talking about the Corvette . . . it is so easy for me to wander off topic, isn’t it?
Corvette celebrated its 60th anniversary last year in 2013, so . . . I guess we are the same age! I think it came off the production line in June 1953; I didn’t come off the production line until November that same year. Nevertheless, we come by our symbiotic relationship naturally.
(Can symbiosis be one-sided? You see, I doubt Corvette knows I even exist!).
Today promises to be an absolutely beautiful day. Plenty of sunshine. Mild temperatures with a bold hint of spring. And so far, the dog and I are the only ones out of bed (Daylight Saving began overnight). I don’t think I have made any indelible impressions yet today, but . . . who knows what the day may bring?
And there is a good chance if I am out and about today – I’ll see a Corvette. Top down, anyone?