Aug 072014
 
Car memories of family fun

Does this VW ad bring back car memories? Image credit: Wikipedia Commons, Bundesarchiv

If there’s something that can come close to cotton candy’s ability to evoke the past, it’s car memories. We love to remember the cars we used to drive. Of course, car memories inevitably include the adventures we had in them.

This comes to mind as my sister is getting her nearly ancient mini-van fixed again. This time it’s the radiator. She’s relieved her mechanic can do it for under $400. That means prayers again go unanswered for her thirteen year old, who would like nothing more than to see that car suffer a horrible, un-ressurrectable death. Me? I’m disappointed the mechanic has decided to throw in fixing her horn.

Probably due to a bad clock spring, her horn blows whenever she makes a tight turn. It’s a hoot when we’re traveling together. We have tons of stories about it and people’s reaction to the pre-millennial Honda Odyssey with “I have a terrific kid” stickers plastered on the back beeping its way through parking lots. And, that doesn’t include the time we asked my teenage to park it for her at a crowded restaurant.

Car Memories = People Memories

Car memories aren’t just about nuts and bolts. They evoke memories of people as well. Common car memories include working on and restoring cars with dad. What kind of bonding went on as you cared for your baby? Were you chauffeur to your siblings? Are your first car memories intertwined with other firsts involving the opposite sex? As you remember cars, be sure to remember cohorts in crimes, rivals, siblings, and adventures you had with them.

Your First Car

Car Memories lost

I found this photo of my dad as a teenager. Unfortunately, his car memories are lost. We never talked about them.

We can all recite details about our first car—or the first car we were allowed to drive. It’s a rite of passage. You probably don’t need any prompts. You can, and should, just start writing about it. How old were you when you started driving it? Were you proud of it or embarrassed by it? Did you get to drive it alone or did you share with siblings? What adventures did you have in that car?

Family Cars

When gas was cheap, “going for a drive” was family entertainment. If you’re like me, many childhood memories are framed by the backseat windows of the family car. What kind of car did your family have? How much did you travel? Did you and your siblings have standard seats? Were you relegated to the back of an un-air-conditioned station wagon?

The Strip

Car memories are often synonymous with teenage angst, cruising the strip, and your place in the social pecking order. Include your hometown ethos as you write. How do think it affected how you felt about your car? How do you think your car impacted how you felt about yourself? Do you feel differently looking back?

Adult Cars

When did you own your own car? Buy a brand-new car? Have you continued car restoration hobbies with siblings or children? Did you have an idiosyncratic car like my sister’s? (I confess. I had my own embarrassing mini-van for a while. See # 5 of Tormenting the Tormentors.) Do you feel like your car is an extension of your personality?

Your Turn:

Leave me a comment! What are your significant car memories?

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  One Response to “Car Memories and How to Write About Them”

  1. […] are more than nuts and bolts. Because of their ability to evoke memories (See Car Memories and How to Write About Them), cars are a powerful tool for writers. They’re a setting in and of themselves. That’s probably […]

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