By G. E. Shuman
I told you all, a few weeks ago, that I would report back on my great adventure to bring my aging Volkswagen Beetle home from Florida. Well, this column is to do that. The trip was exciting, and we did get here in ‘one’ piece, with my old body feeling almost permanently tucked into the old body of my new little car.
My trip began very well, as I left my mom’s home in the northern part of the sunshine state, at eight in morning, last Friday. I loved the car at the start of the trip, and still do. It, probably, doesn’t love me for what I put it through. Interestingly, the very idea of such an elderly vehicle, or any vehicle having the capacity to love, or to think at all, is a strange one, to say the least. Still, there was The Love Bug. For some reason, an old VW is a thing that many people either have fond memories of owning, long ago, or very not fond ones. They either, once upon a time, formed a great attachment to some old Beetle, or they hope they never have to see one again. The car I bought, although cute and tiny, is obviously just a collection of sheet metal and a motor. Still, somehow, I am already attached to it, because of our recent journey together.
The first leg of the trip was the hardest. Before I had gotten out of Florida the generator indicator light had come on, and I was forced to deal with that before it was really even lunch time. A ‘good ol’ boy’ mechanic, in some small southern town off the highway, told me that the generator was fried, as was the voltage regulator, and, almost in the same breath, said that his son was getting married the following day. He didn’t even invite me to the wedding, but confirmed that he couldn’t help me over the weekend. I understood, of course, sort of. After all, I was about 1,300 miles from home, in a 46-year-old car, and somewhat desperate, although all of that situation was of my own making. The truly nice man said he would be happy to take the motor out of my car and fix it the following Monday. Take the motor out? My heart nearly stopped as I considered the idea of him ripping the heart out of my buggy, and, hopefully, putting it back in successfully, after I had waited in the little town for three days. Dollar signs flashed before my eyes as he spoke, as did the fleeting feeling that I would never make it back to my family in Vermont.
God is good, and proved that to me many times on the way home last weekend. In his examination of my car, that good ol’ mechanic had taken the cover off the car’s voltage regulator and had shoved a big screwdriver into it, several times. Sparks flew everywhere, which I thought was probably not a healthy electrical thing to have happen. I soon drove off, with the man’s blessings, looking for the local U-Haul place in search of something to tow the car with, before my battery, and therefore my motor, died completely. That business was closed for the day, which was strangely fortunate for me. When I restarted the car in their parking lot, I noticed that it spun over very quickly. To this day he has no way of knowing this, but that mechanic, who is now a proud father-in-law, somehow fixed my car’s problem for me.
To make a long story and a long trip shorter, Saturday and Sunday the car performed very well, and Sunday afternoon I drove it into my driveway, here in Barre. I think I will always remember what I put that old car through, as we battled the wind of passing eighteen wheelers on the highway, and as she successfully brought me over the Pennsylvania mountains in the fog and cold rain.
Ah… home sweet home. We had made it, even though my wife and two of my kids laughed at ‘Babi’ and me, as soon as they saw us arrive. Both of us are antiques, you know, and not as spry as we used to be. I wonder if the little car felt as fatigued as I did that day.