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Barbara's Life Story--According to Barbara

Cars I've Known and Loved.....and Hated

 

The ‘52 Chevy

There is a saying, "Be careful what you wish for.....you might get it!"

In 1958, shortly after we moved back to Los Angeles from our 2 1/2 year stint in Phoenix, what I most devoutly wished for was a car of my OWN. After eight years of marriage, two small children and living in the spread-out, mobile society of Phoenix and L.A., it was becoming an onerous burden to be stuck out in the suburbs all week without a car. It took complex planning to have the car for even one day: arranging a car-pool for Glenn, stacking up all the necessary doctor’s appointments and errands--rushing from point A to point B to point C with the kids all that day long.

Yes, it was true that the children could walk to grade school, and yes, we had a Ralph’s supermarket and mini-mall just a couple blocks away. Even a nearby erratic Los Angeles bus line that ran more or less on an hourly schedule. But, did these fill my need for transportation? No! I wanted independence! To be a free spirit, sailing along the Hollywood freeway any ol’ time I pleased. Oh! (as Dr. Seuss was about to say) the places I’d go! The things I would see!

Glenn picked up on my not-so-subtle complaints about the car-less life and came home one day to announce that a fellow in his office was selling HIS wife’s Chevy sedan for a very reasonable price, and was it time for us to have a second car? Was it ever! My joy was boundless--I said "Yesss!" almost before he had finished his sentence. Did I thoughtfully suggest that we look that Chevy over carefully before buying? No way. My hands tingled at the thought that they would soon grip my very own steering wheel.

Shortly, a dull beige, boxy little Chevy sedan moved into our carport, right next to what now would be "Glenn’s car," because, WE were now a two-car family!

The Chevy was far from new--at least six or seven years old. It was very early spring when "Barb’s car" arrived--the time of year when the first blossoms appear on the apricot trees in the San Fernando Valley, and also the time when the Chicken Pox virus suddenly springs forth and infects all the young children it missed the prior year.

Mark was in the first grade at Anatola Elementary and along with his art work, he brought home suspicious red spots all over his little body, only a couple days after the Chevy arrived. So, one of the first trips in "Barb’s car" was to the family doctor who confirmed my suspicions and warned me that four-year-old Karen was almost sure to get Chicken Pox also. Well, she did, but not until Mark was almost recovered. By the time the virus had worn out its welcome at the Halliday house, almost six weeks had passed and about the only places I’d gone in "my" car were to doctor’s offices and drug stores.

In mid-spring the orange trees blossomed--and the Measles virus moved in and took up where the Chicken Pox left off. This time, Karen led off the parade, and was seriously ill with it, so the Chevy saw even more trips to the doctor and drug store. Again, the disease didn’t strike Mark until almost the last possible incubation day, so there went another six weeks when "Barb’s car" did mostly paramedic duty.

But, finally, both children were again healthy and I was ready to hit those freeways--and find those malls! The Chevy must have realized its responsibilities while Mark and Karen were down with nasty viruses--it handled all those doctor visits without a complaint. But now, it gave in to its own ailments. I would start out on a little pleasure trip, and find pieces of the car falling off. Early on, I pulled up on the emergency hand brake--only to have it come right off in my hand!

Part by part, the car began to die--and each time something else fell off, or broke, I scurried to the phone to call Glenn at work, twenty-five miles away, and report the latest car calamity. To get to Glenn meant going through his secretary, "Joyce." Soon, Joyce and I were the best of telephone friends, and she would answer my call with the words, "Well, what broke on the car today?" My original enthusiasm about having my own car was worn away as the car continued its downhill course. I was seeing way more of mechanics in oil-spotted repair shops than of Bullocks’ elegant lunch and fashion show afternoons.

Perhaps the Chevy sensed that our love affair had soured--one warm afternoon with the car full of small children, mine and the neighbors, we pulled up to an intersection near the Sepulveda Golf course and heard a loud "thunk" coming from under the car. When the light turned green and I pressed on the accelerator to cross the street--we stayed put. The entire transmission had just fallen off! Glenn agreed with me that the Chevy was now terminal and we disposed of it.

I guess that dull brown Chevy would still rate as the car I hated the most, but then again, it was the wedge that established there should always be "Barb’s car" and "Glenn’s car" in our carport.

[NOTE: There are no photographs of this car in our archives--if there ever were any, I long ago burned them]

Barbara Halliday, June 14, 2000