Today is the 65th Anniversary of D-Day and this past Monday Americans waited to hear the news of General Motors’ bankruptcy. Yes, the same GM whose industrial power helped our country be on the winning side in WWII. The news of this bankruptcy was startling, even though we have had so many shocking economical events in the past nine months, I feel this news hits a part of us that is not just about the economy, but our life’s memories.
If you read my Saturday post regularly, you know I am not an economist, and I do not have an MBA. I have, although, worked for major US corporations, mainly banks, and in my day was quite proficient in the automobile financing world. But today’s post is not about economics, albeit I am heartsick for all those workers impacted by this latest chapter in the American automobile industry. No, today’s blog is about my memories of GM. And so I say: Good Night GM…Que sera, sera.
For the record, my life’s memories as they relate to automobiles are not just about General Motors’ products. For example, I do remember fondly my mother learning to drive in late 1953. We had what I believe was a very used Plymouth. Then one evening in 1954 I remember my father coming home from work. When he came through the door I ran to him and grilled him, as little ones do, what had he brought us? I expected ice cream, but to my surprise, he smiled and said: “I brought you a new car!” Outside sat a brand new 1954 Plymouth sedan. It was two toned, dark brown and beige. And it was in that car in 1956 that we (our the family of six) traveled from San Diego to Great Falls, Montana, to show off our new baby brother. It was during this trip(I was 6.5 years old) that the magical car radio repeatedly played “Que Sera, Sera,” (the 1957 Academy Award winning song from the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much.)
By the time we reached Montana I had memorized this wonderful song and my father happily had me sing it for his brothers and sisters! Memories.
My days and nights with General Motors began in 1959. My father traded in the 1954 Plymouth and purchased a 1959 Chevrolet Impala. It was two toned (green and white), no accounting for taste. I never cared for the color, but it seemed so fancy. In 1964 my father traded up for the latest Chevrolet Impala, four door, a really big engine, and a pale blue(Purchase price about $3800). He was beside himself. Following the General Motors’ Mantra…my father loved to see the USA in his Chevrolet. In the summer of 1964 our family made another jaunt to Montana and the song of the summer was the “The Girl from Ipanema,” which won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. I believe everyone had a love affair with this car…even Hertz featured this model in their Rent a Car ads in 1964. (I am sure the only reason I saved this ad, which you will see in my Picasa Web Slide show, from my 1965 Hilton Hotel room was because of the Impala.)
The summer of 1967 my parents drove me to college in this ’64 Impala. I wore some flowers in my hair and they dutifully dropped me at the University of San Fransisco and tried to avoid getting lost in Haight/Ashbury on their way out of town!
Here are some car facts about me:
1. Since 1968 through today I have owned 13 vehicles. 41 years…13 vehicles. Two(2) were General Motors products, three (3) were Chrysler products and eight(8) were foreign models.
2. What I love best about my General Motors vehicles is this: In 1980 we brought our new born Aaron home from the hospital in the 1979 Buick Regal and in 1984 we brought Daniel home from the hospital in our 1984 Chevrolet S10 Blazer.
3. In 1997, Dennis and I drove across country with Aaron and Daniel in our 1994 Dodge Caravan…more memories.
My friends know this about me. I am not a car person. I do not care about cars, I hate worrying about vehicle upkeep, I would love to have all of the money I have spent over the past 41 years buying, renting, leasing, insuring, and repairing vehicles. I would happily live in Manhattan, Chicago, or San Francisco and take mass transit. But I will never trade the memories of being brave enough to ride with my mother when she was learning to drive and I was only four, or my father settling in the driver’s seat for a Sunday drive in the country, or road trips to Montana, Las Vegas, Denali, Howe’s Cavern, the Bronx, Washington, D. C…and let’s not forget front bench seats, no seat belts, no A/C, crossing the desert with a canvas radiator bag.
So today, que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. But for some reason I cannot bear to say good-bye to GM. I will remember the great ads, Dinah Shore, and my favorite from 2002.
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.
I will say good-night to GM, savor my memories and wait and hope the reinvention is successful.
P.S. Let me hear about your GM memories and enjoy my YouTube video selections and Picasa Web Album.
P. P. S. A good friend just read this blog and he reminded me that in 1960 my father purchased a used 1940 Cadillac mourning car. It had jump seats and held about 10-12 people. It was the real fore-runner in our family for a mini-van. Go to this blog post to read about my dad and see a photo of this crazy car.