Tuesday, October 19, 2010


My first memories of being in a car were when I was 2 years old. My parents had a Volkswagen bug from the late 50's. I am assuming that it ran on 6 volts. What I remember most is that it had a reserve gas tank, so that when you were out of gas in one tank, you could turn a lever and it would switch over to the reserve tank. I thought that was so cool. The other thing I remember is that it was a rag top. My dad loved to drive with the top down. I was not so fond of it. You see we lived in an apartment off of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. When they drove around, I was often in the back seat freezing. Having the rag top down, was probably very comfortable in the front seat, but a blast of cold air was hitting this little kid who frequently wore short pants in those days.

My brother Dave was born in San Francisco. My folks saved up and bought a home in Hayward, where my sister Susan was born. By this time, we had a second car. I believe it was a Ford Galaxy 500 provided by the company my dad worked for. My dad was transfered to Glendora, California, where my brother Bob was born.

My mom drove the VW and we all piled in. No seat belts, no laws. By this time the heater was permanently stuck in the on position. Mom would go shopping with all of us. There were kids and groceries everywhere. Sometimes I would sit on the floor in front of the front passenger seat. Was I really ever that small?

Our family grew, and my grandmother bought us a brand new 1970 VW van. It was fire engine red. The VW Bug went to my cousin Nancy. Our family went all over in that VW van. One summer we went all the way across country and visited family in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and Oklahoma. I will never forget that trip.

My sister Becky was born. She never knew the original VW bug, but she sure new the VW bus. I graduated high school and the day after we moved to Pleasant Hill, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was my 18th birthday and my present was a 1966 VW bug. This one used to be my cousin Nancy's, but it was not our original bug. I was so excited to have my own car. It was six volts and it was mine.

It was time to retire the VW bus. Our family bought a new blue VW Vanogon. I moved out on my own. I saved my money and bought a 1974 light blue Super Beetle. I loved that car. I got married and bought a white 1968 VW Bus. Carmen camped in that VW Bus in Reno and Las Vegas. With the arrival of our first born Lila, we decided that we wanted a new car. A car that we would not have to worry about breaking down, so we bought a brand new white VW Jetta.

The 1968 VW bus was at it's end. My mom wanted a new car and sold us her Vanogon. We got a lot of mileage out of that Vanogon before it was retired for a Van Conversion. The Jetta was replaced by another Jetta with air conditioning.

I have this friend named Josh. He drove around a blue VW bug that he bought from his dad. Josh's dad had bought the car new. When my sister Susan needed a car, I arranged for her to buy his 1968 blue VW Bug. My sister drove it for years. Eventually, she was ready for a new car and I bought the 1968 VW Bug. Ceci was born. My mother-in-law drove it the Bug. She took the kids to school, went shopping, but eventually it became time to buy a new car, a Saturn. The deal was, I would pay for the car as long as we could keep the Bug.

In the meantime, had a sever sprained ankle. I was in a brace for months. It was not able to drive a manual transmission, which the Jetta was. I traded it in for a Ford Taurus, which we still drive to this day.

The VW Bug sat in the garage for years. One day when Lila was in high school, she decided to take an Auto-body class. She asked if she could use the VW Bug for school and I agreed. School was over and it was time to pick up the Bug. They had done a lot of work on it, but there was a lot of work still to do. It only had primer on it. Almost no breaks, the back window was out, no signals. It was dangerous!

At this point, Ceci was now driving and I needed another car, so instead of buying another one, we decided to restore this one. I drove it to Miracle Paint and then to La Vere's. La Vere's restored VW's. First was safety, breaks, lights ...etc. Then was the engine, upholstery, windows, bumper, a new stereo. It was nice. The front license plate had rusted and broken into pieces. It was the old Black and Gold License plates. I found a place on the Internet that made fake plates and had a replacement made. I drove that bug to and from work for years.

Like many we have fallen on difficult economic times. Money is tight. After we returned from vacation, I went to take the Bug in for a valve adjustment, tune up, oil change ...etc. When I went to drive the car, the only brakes that worked was the hand brake. It was a dangerous journey to La Vere's. With the brakes, I knew the bill would be a lot, but when they called me, the estimate was very high. Too high. There was much more than brakes that needed replacing. Most of the car was over 40 years old.

Sadly, I called my wife and we accepted that we could no longer afford this car. I sold it to the mechanic for much less that I care to admit to. We are not replacing this car. We are simply learning to live without and work with each others schedules. Times are not what they once were, but we all miss that Bug. That car had only known two families.

A friend told me I would regret it. I did immediately, but I had not choice.

So long Buggie...

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