Our Buddy

The first vehicle I remember from my childhood was a white Mercedes Benz with four doors and a trunk. The interior seats were of a gray and white decorative pattern. Before my younger brother was born, my parents and I took many trips from our home in Tucson, Arizona.

We called the car Buddy. After my younger brother was born, when he was old enough, Dad started calling him Buddy, and I was confused. My brother’s given name was Andy, so why was Dad calling him Buddy? I was too young to understand that “buddy” was also a term of endearment.

Three years after my younger brother was born, after a second car was purchased, Buddy took Dad and me all the way from Tucson to Sheridan, Wyoming. The year was 1971, and I was ten years old. Dad would have gone on his own, but on the night he planned to leave, while we were eating supper, he asked if I wanted to come, and I said yes, since I was always up for an adventure.

We left that night. Because it was close to my bedtime, I camped out in Buddy’s back seat while Dad drove for a few hours. When we stopped, he unrolled a sleeping bag on the ground near the car. We were still in Arizona.

The next day, we drove through the Navajo Reservation and into Colorado, stopping at Four Corners, where Dad said we lost an hour. That night, we ended up in Durango, and I remember thinking it strange that it was still light at eight o’clock in the evening. That night, we visited several bars. Years later, this experience inspired a poem from my collection, How to Build A Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver.

The next day, we stopped at Mesa Verde, then spent the night with friends in Beulah, and the following evening, Dad left me in Denver with my maternal grandmother while he drove the rest of the way to Sheridan.

I stayed with Grammy and Granddad Hinkley in Denver for several weeks. During that time, Dad and his mother, Grandma Johnson, went to Las Vegas and back to Denver, where they picked me up. We drove to Sheridan in Grandma’s Cadillac because Buddy quit working after Dad reached Sheridan the first time.

We’d come here because Grandpa Johnson died in the fall of the previous year, and Grandma needed help with the family’s coin-operated machine business. During the weeks I spent in Sheridan, Buddy sat neglected in front of Grandma’s house. Dad was too busy running the business and keeping me entertained to worry about fixing the car. When we drove anywhere, we either used Grandma’s car or one of the company vehicles. When it was time for me to start school, Dad drove me to Denver, again in Grandma’s Cadillac, and I boarded a plane for Tucson. I wondered if I would ever see Buddy again.

In October of that year, Buddy somehow managed to get Dad home safe and sound. Two years later, we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, so Dad could run the business full time. We had two cars: Buddy and the other Mercedes Benz we called 220S Baby. We rented a U-Haul truck to carry our earthly possessions. Dad drove the U-Haul, towing Buddy, while Mother drove 220S Baby.

After we settled in Sheridan, Buddy eventually retired and was relegated to a space in our driveway behind the garage. When Andy became a teen-ager, Mother wanted him to fix up and use the old car, but Andy wasn’t interested, and Dad didn’t like the idea for some reason. She eventually gave Andy her old Fiat when she bought a new Subaru. There were other cars, a gray Buick station wagon, a number of pick-up trucks and a van that were used mostly for the coin-operated machine business, a Plymouth Reliant station wagon, a Mitsubishi, and a red Subaru station wagon that Andy inherited after Dad passed away and gave to his son as a graduation present. For a couple of years when my husband was alive and partially paralyzed by two strokes, I owned a red wheelchair-accessible van. However, our Buddy, a reliable car for years, will always be foremost in my memory.

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How about you? I’d love to hear about the first car you remember when you were growing up. What color and brand was it? What did the interior look like? Do you remember where it came from? Can you think of a specific road trip you took with your family in this car? Please share your thoughts either in the comments field or on your own blog with a pingback here.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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4 thoughts on “Our Buddy

  1. Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:

    Good morning again campbellsworld visitors. Are ya still with me here in the Author’s Corner?
    It’s been a busy day here on campbellsworld what with all my totally talented clients hard at work there’s no telling what on Earth we’ll come up with next around here.
    But.
    This morning I’ve got a treat for you.
    Abbie has shared a great memory on her blog and I’m sharing here with you.
    She asks about the first car we remember or a first road trip memory.
    Well, my first real and tangible memory of a car comes from when I was quite small before all the good rules of children’s car-seats, seat-belts and the like.
    (Imagine that I’m still alive to tell of it)
    Anyhoo my first memory is of my father holding me on his lap letting me drive our Fiat. Seems to me dad called it something but for the life of me right at this moment I can’t remember.
    I just remember sitting on his lap pretending to drive and chattering nonstop with the CB Radioers who were the most patient and kind with the little girl her daddy gave the handle of Little Bird.
    We were coming home from somewhere. I’ve no memory of where we’d been either. Just driving and driving, chattering and chattering and all of those truckers and everyone else who had a CB radio in range coming back with good natured 10 4 Little Bird, and Sing on sweetie.
    Well, I’ve answered Abbie’s question as she’s requested, and gotten wet keyboard for my trouble.
    now I invite and encourage you go on over to her blog and have a look see at this wonderful post and all her other fine work.

  2. Thanks for the sweet story, Abbie. You’ve been to parts of the West that we have never yet visited, in spite of having lived in Denver since 1971. I guess my birth family never owned particular cars long enough for me to get attached to them or even to have fond memories of them. I mainly remember being very uncomfortably crowded on long, hot, summer trips from northern Indiana to visit our grandparents in Mississippi and Louisiana. There was no air conditioning in our cars, and I have five sisters. However, my husband and I have really appreciated the various Volkswagens, Toyotas, and Subarus that we have owned since we’ve been married. (We got married in 1968.) We used to name our cars, but no longer — even though the Camry and Subaru wagon we own now are both from 2001. For sure, a good car can be a good buddy, and it’s often very hard to have to say goodbye. I’ll bet that you will get many responses to this!

    • Hi Leonore, I think a lot of people are that way about cars. They keep them for a year or two, then trade them in on something better. My grandparents in Denver were that way. I hope you and David can visit Mesa Verdi and Four Corners sometime. Thank you for your comment.

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