I saw an old friend today. He watched me crawl into my twenty-year-old beat-up truck and couldn’t believe I was still driving it.
“I don’t understand why you still drive that thing,” he said.
Well, it’s not difficult to understand. Vehicles are important to the ordinary people I come from.
When I was a kid, we would take long Sunday drives to nowhere. I wonder what happened to the American Sunday driver. There was a time when working-class families used to hop into station wagons and just play.
I remember one such Sunday after church. My father was on the sofa, his necktie hanging half mast. He was scanning the sports page.
“Yankees beat the Red Sox,” he said in mock amazement.
If there’s one thing I was brought up to dislike, it was the Yanks.
“Glavine pitches shutout in Atlanta. Unbelievable...”
“Gashouse Gang gets slaughtered again, fourteen to nothing, holy...”
And so on.
Usually, after he finished reading, he’d put on a pair of piddling clothes. Then he’d change the oil, organize the garage, mow the lawn twice, or repaint fifteen
houses using only one arm. My father could not sit still.
But on this particular Sunday he said, “Hey, let’s all go for a drive, what d'ya say?”
My mother was knee deep in preparing cornbread and whatever else was on the menu.
“A drive?” she said, “But I’m cooking dinner.”
Sunday afternoons were the only time we called it “dinner.” Every other day of the week it was “supper.”
So my father looked at me. “How about you, Tiger? Wanna take a drive?”
A Sunday drive was big. On the occasions my father took me on these outings, I knew for certain that one thing was going to happen: Ice cream sandwiches.
We piled into my father’s ‘74 F-100, forest green, rusty, with welding equipment on the back. Oxygen canisters, cables, air hoses dangled every which way.…