Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Saturday Snapshot #32

     I only saw it once, parked all by itself in an auxiliary parking lot at the Chicago Botanic Garden: a Volvo P1800, my dream car, the first car I ever owned, though mine had seen hard use—an engine salvaged from a 144, a coat of white paint that was neither original nor glossy, but more of an eggshell matte. Nothing at all like this car, which was pristine: rehabbed and repainted, done with love and attention to detail. I stopped our van, hopped out and took a few photos. Why not? It was beautiful.
     That was a few years ago. Three or four. What is surprising is that now, whenever I pass the spot where the P1800 had been, as I do a few dozen times a year after visiting the garden, I give it the briefest glance of inquiry and longing, as if I expect the P1800 might somehow be there. Of course I do. The heart is a lonely hunter, but not very bright, and it returns , the poor dumb beast, to where it has found success, even when there is little hope of success. I never saw the car again. But it could be there, someday. Why not? It was there once..


  1. I've done the same sort of thing myself. Literally and, alas, figuratively as well.

  2. Sometimes hope is all we have. As long as it doesn't become delusional.

  3. Sounds a bit Proustian. Although Proust would have elaborated more than a bit. Very likely 4 or 5 pages would not have adequately described his infatuation. Personally, my only car nostalgia is for rumble seats.



  4. It was a Packard, mid 30's I'd say, pulled into my gas station one day in the mid 70's. I remember it still from that single viewing though some details escape me. It was long and beautiful, perfectly kept or restored. Running boards with spare tires stashed on both sides just behind the front fenders. The chrome shined all around the car, the accessories added to the body stylishly rather than styled into the body. The interior spacious and well appointed. It was a work of art, equal to the stories my father had related about the brand, that day being the first time I had encountered one. Today my phone would get a workout seeing that car. It doesn't have the sentimental value of a first car, but I would trade all the surviving 1800's for that Packard.

  5. Nice-looking car! No wonder you were so nostalgic about it.

  6. My wife and I were leaving a carnival when I saw my father's car in the parking lot...I felt as though he'd kept it garaged for forty years and suddenly brought it out and was waiting to give us a ride. Walked around and around it several times, while my wife stood and watched my jaw drop.

    Same shiny plaid seat covers, same gray fuzzy velour headliner, same white bakelite knob on the steering-column shift lever, and the same silver knob(for the wipers) on the dashboard, right in the middle, between the two halves of the split-window windshield.

    It was the first car my old man ever bought, at the ripe old age of 28. I was not yet two, and it was the first car I can remember riding in. No BMW...not even a BFD...just a light green '49 Plymouth four-door sedan, with the clipper ship hood ornament. He parked it on the street, in front of our Garfield Park apartment building.

    Since that cool August night in 1995, I've seen the same car on several occasions, mostly sittng behind the bandstand in a local park, during summer concerts. Apparently, a member of a big-band jazz orchestra owns it. Or maybe not. In a metro area this size, I suppose there could easily be more than one.


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