There’s been a story behind almost every vehicle we’ve ever had. We’ve been through a good few since the start of our family, beginning with our marriage. We’ve always bought pretty used vehicles, and have managed to never have a car payment, until recently. Michael is quite mechanical and can fix almost anything that needs to be fixed, and we could never afford to buy anything nicer before, anyway. We’re pretty much “make do’ kind of folks. But this vehicle, our 1995 Buick Roadmaster in particular, really has a story.
Before it became ours, it was a dear friend of Michael’s, who passed away. Mr. Bill was an old man in his early 90’s we met at church. He was always there, and always dressed spiffy for Jesus, with his hair groomed just right, and his bow tie just so. He made it to Mass not only Sundays, but weekday morning as well. As a result of those mornings, when he helped on the altar, he was known as the oldest altar boy ever. As he grew older, and his health started declining, he fought not making it to church, tooth and nail. It often took every bit of strength he had, to drive to church, and get inside, eventually pulling his oxygen tank behind him. In due time, he was in and out of the hospital or too sick at home, and it was in those periods of time that Michael began visiting him where ever he was. Michael very much enjoyed hearing Mr. Bill’s stories, or just sitting quietly with him, and Mr. Bill surely enjoyed the company. So it was a sad day when Michael got the call, that Mr. Bill had passed away during the night. He was 96. We all attended his services, and Michael was a pallbearer.
The opportunity to buy Mr. Bill’s car for quite a deal, was presented. We happened to need one very soon, as our large conversion van was DONE. Mr. Bill’s wagon was in great shape, as it was always garaged, when not in use. It was big enough for our family, it was available immediately, and well…. I could also tell, Michael just wanted it. It was Mr. Bill’s, and I knew he would treasure it for the time he could. just as he does one of Mr. Bill’s bow ties.
I told Michael when he wanted to get it, that it was going to be so temporary. I mean….come ON! A mini-van had a bad enough rap for a family vehicle!
But a wood-paneled station wagon?! It was almost like a joke!
I knew driving this thing was going to draw some attention, but I was thinking more along the lines of the pointing and laughing kind. Turned out, people were really impressed with it. Of course, to us, driving it and going places in it had quickly become every day normal. Until we’d be caught off-guard with people giving us the thumbs-up, or coming over and knocking on my window (scaring the ba-gee-bees out of me), to say they think our car is the coolest thing ever, and they haven’t seen one like it in forever. And how they ‘didn’t even know any were around, anymore!’ Which always made me think, “It’s a car. Not a Triceratops.” In general, it just seemed to make other people all kinds of happy.
They’d usually try to discreetly get a peek on the inside.
Of course, the kids really loved riding in the back. Two at a time, mind you, as that’s all the seat belts allowed. People would wave or smile at them at red-lights, and whatnot. Probably remembering their own childhood days, facing backwards, in the back of a wood-paneled station wagon. Back when it was more common.
But as a Mama, I hated that backseat. I never felt the kids were safe. Much of my fear was hinged on the idea that someone will not see us stopped, and just drive right into the back us of, with my kids back there. Because many years ago, that very thing happened to me, right out on the main road from our street. I was driving our 4 door Pontiac Grand Am, and Alexis was about 2 years old, and in a car seat on the back seat. I had come to a stop, waiting for the guy in front of me to turn left. And I watched the pick-up truck in my rear-view mirror, come around the bend. And I watched it not slow down, as if I was sitting there stopped right in front of him. There was nowhere for me to go, and no time, to get out of the way in that position.
So I called out to God, more as a reflex than a last resort, and He saved us. The truck saw us very last minute, and finally slammed on the breaks, just as was about to drive into the back of us. Doing so did lessen the amount of impact. And I thanked God, my baby girl was fine.
The fear of that happening again, has never left me. My kids have had a 100 lectures sitting back there, about watching for that as they sit back there, and pulling up their legs as fast and far up as they can. I too, have always prepared since. I watch my rear-view well, if I need to sit and wait, and I leave lots of room between me and the stopped car on front of me, so that I can hit the gas, and pull off to the side if I need to.
ANYWAY, we’d been waiting for the right time to get another vehicle. After 3 years (almost to the day), lots of driving around, and 5 doors slamming on it several times a day, it was time to upgrade. There had been lots of little things going on it, that we had tolerated well. We were used to old vehicles, and all of the little increasing number of character flaws that come with them.
We knew the time had come when we found a handwritten note on our windshield that read:
“If you want to sell your wagon, call (- – -) – – – – – – -“
Oh how I wanted to take a photo of that note! I had it for 2 weeks, and meant to photograph it on the wind shield. But I procrastinated that little thing on my to-do list, long enough to lose the note. If I find it, I am totally still doing it, and adding that photo to this post!
Anyway, to make a long story a little shorter, the young guy badly wanted our car. He came and looked at it, and said he’d call at the end of the week. But he never did, nor did he return our calls. I’m gathering he didn’t get up the cash of the agreed upon price: $2,600.00
But we had already started doing new(er) vehicle research, and got our heads wrapped around getting something else, since it was believed we’d be selling the wagon any day. We knew we needed something newer, safer, with better gas mileage (Yes please!), and was less…..attention grabbing. (O.k., the last bit was my own personal wish.)
We had found another vehicle, and it was time to say goodbye to this one. I was fine with it, (“See Ya!”). Michael was feeling a little sentimental about it. (“But it was Mr. Bill’s.”)
And the kids, well….they get a little too attached to just about anything. Like say….bread ties. Or a pile of string. Maybe a pocket-lint collection. Or any baby tooth that ever comes out of their head, even if it is the ump-teenth.
So they gave the Buick Roadmaster one last hug, and I gave them a minute to get over it . . . . . .
. . . . . .Before Daddy drove it away, to trade it in, for our newer vehicle we had previously picked out, after a family test-drive.
Yes, I said trade it in. Two things to note about that: This would be our first time ever buying a vehicle from a car dealership. (What a scene it was when we drove the wagon onto the lot to look around at what they had. It’s moments like that one, that make me remember what we’re in. LOL) Secondly, they gave us $3,000 for our wagon, towards the new(er) vehicle! That was even a better deal than the first offer we got, from the windshield note guy.
We’re pretty in love with our new family ride:
It’s silver. I would have loved a pearl white, but we weren’t buying new, and this one was available, and totally acceptable.
- I’ll tell you what. As a family who has only ever owned very old vehicles, we are amazed at the things this baby can do. Features we didn’t even know existed. But it’s truly the little things, that make me love and appreciate it so much. Let me share a few with you:
- ALL of the windows go up and down! All of them.
- The gas tank door closes all of the way.
- The headlights really light up the road in front of you at night.
- The windshield is crystal clear. No pit dots everywhere.
- The windshield wipers do not leave wide rain droplet stripes for you, to try and see in between.
- You don’t have to hold the steering wheel to the left, to keep it on the road.
- And when you let go on a straight road, it doesn’t quickly go wide-right, and off the road. It keeps going straight! (“Look Ma! No hands!” Just kidding. That would be a bad example to my will-be-driving-some-day-soon kids.)
- You don’t have to remember to turn off an extra, secretly hidden switch for the air fan, to keep the battery from going dead over night.
- The storage/cargo space is fantastic! And we needed it. There’s room for the kids, AND stuff. (Like, the kid’s stuff.)
- You can drive all over God’s Creation, and the gas meter barely even moves. That one really gets me. I mean, our wagon was a beast, and would throw down a full tank of gas like a shot of whiskey in a Dixie cup.
- We get NO attention driving it. People pay no mind to us. The windows are all tinted (hello, privacy), and we’re like everyone else on the road. Even our neighbors aren’t recognizing us driving in it! Feeling anonymous, and it’s a beautiful thing!
Most importantly, we feel way safer in it. No more worries of breaking down on a long trip. (Or avoiding long trips, because we’ll probably break down.)
The wagon served it’s purpose, and it’s season. But I think we’re all going to be loving this for a good long time.
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Great story, one that anyone who grew up in the “day” will identify with. In 20 years, or so, as the family is reminiscing, guess which vehicle you’re going to be talking about? Station wagons are a special right of passage shared by few.
Thanks for reading our story about our station wagon, and sharing in our nostalgia, James! Your comment really made us smile.
Take care and stay well.
The Richard Family / House of Joyful Noise blog
Great story Laura! God Bless Mr Bill too. I am sure he is happy you have the new van. As always, so well written & with great pics. This is my fave line though: “I mean, our wagon was a beast, and would throw down a full tank of gas like a shot of whiskey in a Dixie cup.” True wordsmith you are my dear 🙂
much love from Philly & happy trails to you all~lou
I’m really glad you enjoyed reading it, Lou! I’m sure Mr. Bill understands too, and knows the need we’ve had to move on. You are too kind, to call me a wordsmith! I’m always trying to improve my writing, and occasionally have successful moments. I guess that line you stated was one, because you’re not the first to mention loving it!
Thanks so much for your comment! It really means a lot. : ) – Laura