The year was probably 1972, at least I think it was about then. I had my own car at the time, it was a 4 door 1965 Ford Fairlane. It was pretty basic “old man’s” car that I’d love to have back in my possession right now, but back then it just wasn’t “cool”.
But Mom had a 2 door 1968 Chevrolet Impala that was wicked fast. It had a 396 engine with a 4 barrel carburetor, 8 track stereo, CB Radio and AC…and that car would FLY when you punched it. I loved that car and I especially loved driving it. Simply put, it was a BADASS car, and I tried to drive it every chance I got (even though I had my own car).
One day I went up to the Cafe we owned (Betty’s and Lettie’s Cafe) and asked Mom if I could wash her car for her. Actually I was just looking for an excuse to drive her car around. Mom said I could wash her car for her and I took it back home to wash it. To get into the backyard I had to drive the car between two houses that were close together with trees hanging over the area and also a fence post on the passenger side of the car. So maneuvering the car into the backyard was tricky at best, but I succeeded in getting it back successfully to wash the car.
I had her car looking pretty good and finished up washing and drying it. I began to move it out of the backyard and into the driveway. As I was steering the car between the houses, the fence and the limbs hanging above me, I lost my focus on the right side and ran smack dab into the side of the house…I wrecked the passenger side of car, bashed in the front fender and broke the headlight. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, both because I’d have to tell Mom, but also because I loved that car.
I took the car back up to the Cafe and went in to tell Mom the bad news. I handed her the keys and said, “Mom, I’m sorry but I wrecked your car”. She just looked at me, not a mad look, just a look. I continued, “Mom, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do it. I smashed in the fender and broke the light, Mom, I’m so sorry”. OK, my Mom is not and was never a “spanking” type of Mom (yeah, we did get whippings, but not often), but Mom was one of the “psychological guilt trip type Mom’s. And that’s what I got. All Mom said was, “That’s OK Wally, that’s OK”. But the disappointment I saw in her eyes was unquestionable! She was mad, I was mad (at me), and that was the end of it. I don’t know how long it took, but looking back it was pretty quick after I wrecked her car, but in short order she traded that car that we all loved on a new one (which turned out to be a lemon).
I’d love to be able to ask her now…how mad was she REALLY back then. I’m so sorry I wrecked your car…I didn’t mean to do it. I love you Mom.