Monday, May 20, 2013

The Volkswagen Chronicles; Before I Grew Up

1954 Beetle

I am on the Illinois Tollway with my brother in his 1954 Volkswagen. The little bug is whining along at sixty miles per hour.
"Hey Dave, look at that.", I say as I point out the window.
"Is that a tire rolling down the highway next to us?"
"That's not just a tire. It's the entire...  "
Clunk, grindddddddddd......
I have to give it up to my brother. He guided that three wheeled Beetle to a perfect stop, just feet from the drop-off to the road below.

1964 Beetle

A typical summer evening, out cruising my home town with my cousin in his 1964 Volkswagen. Part of our cruising routine was getting toasted on pot. That evening we decided to smoke as we drove around the country roads just outside of town.
"Fwsssssst...  hack, hack, hack."
"Hey, pass that over here."
"Sure, here, take it." I said as I passed the joint back over to my cousin. It's funny how time slows down when you're stoned. I looked out the windshield of the little car, and thought that for sure my cousin knew we were entering a hairpin turn. As the yellow caution sign with the dogleg arrow on it slowly got closer and closer, I tried to warn him.
"Uh, slow it down man. This is a very sharp....  "
It was like rolling down a hill in a giant tin can with the sounds of crumpling metal and my cousin's curses all mixed together. Out the front window I watched as the horizon swirled around and around until we came to rest at the bottom of a little ravine.
"You boys alright?"
Out my side window I could see a pair of feet. It was a nearby resident.
"I'm okay, I think."
From the rear window-well I heard the voice of my cousin, "Owww... ouch. My arm hurts."
The best part of a Volkswagen Beetle is that you can roll it sideways down a hill and then just flip the thing back over, and drive away.

1966 Karmann Ghia

In the summer of 1972 my cousin and I delivered a car to California, from Illinois. For the trip back to Illinois we borrowed a car from some girls we had met in Berkeley. It was a beautiful 1966 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, and the girls were a couple of idiots who trusted the first hippies they met in California. To finance our trip to California, my cousin had a plan. He stuffed a pound of primo west coast pot in the spare tire, up front next to the fuel tank. Twenty four hours into our non-stop drive back to Illinois, while my cousin napped in the passenger seat and I drove, we ran out of gas on Interstate 80 near Atlantic, Iowa. Luckily for me an Iowa State Trooper had been behind us for some miles. Officer Friendly pulled up behind us as our little Volkswagen sputtered to a halt on the shoulder.
"Is everything alright ma'am?"
As I turned to the officer he corrected himself, "I'm sorry, I mean sir." (I had very long hair)
I explained the situation, and the policeman graciously gave us a gallon of gas. My cousin finally awoke from his nap just as the trooper was pouring the fuel into the tank, which was right next to the spare tire, which had a pound of highly illegal marijuana stuffed in it.

It's things like that, that keep me from becoming another vindictive asshole. I don't believe in the courts charging juveniles as adults. I don't believe in throwing everybody in jail for stupid decisions they may have made in their youth. Having made so many bad choices in my life that ultimately had no consequences at all for me, has made me more tolerant of other's mistakes.  After all, that cop could have noticed something wasn't quite right about that tire. That nearby resident who helped us roll the Beetle back on it's feet so we could drive out of the ditch, could have called the police to report two stoned kids. No, stupid luck is no way to go through life, but I'm glad I've had it.


  1. I remember you going on that trip to California to drop off a car. I remember thinking you were so lucky to be doing something like that! What a trip!!

  2. Glad you weren't in drag.

  3. I am in total agreement with you. Of course.