Sunday, May 25, 2014

I'll have the black Impala, please

We entertained members of the Pella-based Dutch Masters Auto Club at the museum, Saturday morning --- a good-sized group of very nice people who circled up the driveway in vast vintage vehicles (excepting the one classic Thunderbird convertible and a couple of new vehicles along for the ride) like so many captains and crews aboard vast steel and chrome battleships that had just sailed down from Marion County.

They spent about two hours with us, then headed for lunch, a stop at Piper's, a grave-witching demonstration at the Chariton Cemetery and I last spotted them, wagons circled, in the Pin Oak Marsh parking lot.

This was my favorite --- a black Chevrolet Impala from the late 1950s, I'm guessing 1958 although I neglected to ask. The owners have had it for eight years. Look at all that chrome. And the mirror finish, so bright that when I took a photo of the insignia there was no way to avoid turning it into a self-portrait.

I always figure so many people drive big pickups these days because of memories somehow embedded in our genetic makeups of the sense of security these beasts must have inspired as their drivers rolled down the highways --- without seat belts, of course.

And without air conditioning. It was a little warm Saturday morning --- not bad at all. But warm enough for several drivers to mention that the only way to cool off the interiors of these vehicles was to roll down the windows. I know you could special-order air conditioning in vehicles sold in Iowa during the 1950s, but it was not considered an essential.

Even Lee and Frances Cottingham, who along with Elba Slater Sikes were the only Russell residents of that era to drive Cadillacs, didn't have air conditioning.

So when my classmate, Carol Dawson-Lockridge, moved back to Russell from Arkansas when we were in elementary school --- if I'm remembering correctly --- the fact the vehicle they drove back from the southland had air conditioning was tourist-worthy and we all gathered around to experience it. Imagine that.

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