Betty was a one of a kind. A 1973 Pinto Wagon. She had dual sport mirrors and wood paneling on her sides. One bumper sticker said “Love a Preppy” with the little Lacoste alligator in the heart. The other bumper sticker said “Give Blood. Play Rugby” in honor of my very limited tour on the women’s rugby team.
This was my first car and my initial ticket to freedom and responsibility. Betty had no heat, no defrost and if I needed to go up a huge hill, I had to turn off the radio and anything else so she had enough power to make it up the hill. She was no frills, but all mine for the low bargain price of $200.00. She was a set of wheels when all you needed was that- a way to get around. No surround sound, no blue tooth, no power steering!
This morning it was 3 degrees. Cold. Bone chilling cold. Every year when I am in my car on the first really cold morning, I think back to Betty. How I would pray all the way out to the parking lot that she would start. I scrapped the INSIDE of the windows with my student ID to get the frost off. I laid the blanket over me and drove to class or work or whenever we were going. I loved her.
Now some 30 years later I drive an Audi Wagon–Ursula. She is warm and safe. She starts every time and in minutes my ‘junk’ is warm from the seat heaters and I am off. Ursula goes through deep snow, rain and even icy roads with ease (and the radio on). My old bumper stickers are now replaced with “Proud RIT Family” and “Niskayuna Rowing”. I would not change a thing, not even for a minute. Each stage was perfect and all the cars in between- Sammy, Chuck, Walter, Jeeves, Frederick, Gertrude and ‘the bus’…they all have memories of taking a baby home from the hospital or driving through a muddy lacrosse parking lot. Now that Jack is learning to drive, Amadeus is the name that he may remember one day.
I’m sure I sound silly but sometimes an image, a thought or situation reminds me to remember where I have been and who I am. What’s ahead of me? I don’t know. The past is done and I cannot change it, nor would I in many cases. Each stage is a building block that have become stories for the next generation.