For the November 15, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: Write about a car memory?
My First Car
Nowadays it seems that kids from the suburbs have cars in high school, and certainly when they go off to college. Back in suburban New Jersey in the 1960s that was not the case for me. I walked a mile to Fair Lawn High with my guys. In college, I had no need for a car as I took classes and played on the tennis team at the small, residential College of Wooster in Ohio.
But once I signed a contract to teach social studies, science, and Spanish to fifth and sixth graders in Anaheim, California (I had never taken a course in Spanish!), I needed a car.
The Volkswagen Bug (often referred to as a Beetle) spoke to me. That summer of 1970, I purchased a used 1968 Bug for $1800 through the newspaper.
It wasn’t a month later that my brother Richard and I headed out for a 3000-mile trek across country for my first teaching job. Though my Bug was quite a bit less cool than Ford Mustangs of the day, it got me around. At the time, gas cost 24.9 cents per gallon. Truly, to go another twenty miles, I once pulled up to the pump with a quarter.
A year later, leaving my VW in Arizona, I drove east with a friend in his car from Tempe to Atlanta, Georgia, then hitchhiked north to pick up Hannah in Ohio. Along the way I was jailed in Knoxville but eventually arrived to drive with Hannah back to Arizona to see where our four-year on again, off again relationship might go.
We drove west in, get this, Hannah’s Mustang. Yes, I eventually married someone who was far cooler than I ever was.
Words – 279
If you are semi- or three quarter-intrigued by my time in the Knoxville City Jail in the South in 1971, I wrote a six-part series about the experience. Click on each part below for the full story.