Is this not the best?!!! Lol!
In June of 1986, I graduated high school and drove this sweet ride!
The father of one of my closest friends put this baby together from different parts. I basically “rented” it for the year. Knowing that I was going out of state for college, and it would never make it to SC from PA, Mr. West, let me use it until I left for Carolina (Go Gamecocks!)
The first week I had it, at the beginning of my senior year, the engine caught on fire!
I was captain of the tennis team and had stayed late after practice to plan some things with the coach. When I started it up, the engine sparked and then the back, where the engine lives in VW Bugs, went full fire. A friend of mine grabbed me out of the driver’s seat (thanks, Drew) and I grabbed my racquets from the back seat. There was no way I was going to let those burn!
That was a Friday afternoon. Mr. West had a new engine and new back put on by start of class on Monday morning! Ha!
There were enough parts of the same year to label this a 1967 Bug, at least for the vehicle registration and insurance information. It had one of those large wire steering wheels and fabulous old fashioned dashboards with round gauges that looked like the inside of cups. Since I was going to drive it for a year, the very important senior year of high school, I sprung for a brand new radio with cassette player! It was very spiffy!
In the winter, I braved the cold as long as possible and, when I could bear the chill no longer, Mr. West connected the heat…a hot cylinder pipe that blew burning hot air from under the driver’s seat. If my leg touched it, it burned it so much that it would leave a welt. There was no controlling the heat. If the car was running, the heat was running. There were many days it was so hot in there that I had to drive with the window down in below freezing temperatures just to be able to breathe.
I loved that car!
One day while I was at work, my friends decided my Bug needed a make-over. They bought spray paint and sprayed each section of the car a different color, then personalized it with my nick name…Dish (in reference to the body builder Rachel McLish, but that’s a whole other story.) I came out of work to find my Bug painted…p-a-i-n-t-e-d! Every section, painted in a different color!
Talk about “rock star” status…that was epic! Once I got over the shock, and the fear that Mr. West was going to throw a fit, I embraced that wild and crazy fabulous work of art on wheels like it was my own personal Picasso! But the real treasure, was the gift my friends’ gave me in that crazy antic…a story of connection to them and a beloved time in my life.
And…I really loved that car after that!
My VW Bug was painted to high school perfection.
We used to go to the drive-ins all the time that summer after graduation and, since the price of admission was per car not per person, we would stuff it full. That sweet little thing that was a two sitter with a compact back seat ended up carrying 10–12 people to those movies. (Mom, I know you are reading this…it is 34 years later and the statute of limitations on being grounded has expired!💜) I swear we looked like the clown car at the circus when everyone peeled themselves out of it to sit on the roof and the ground around it to watch the movie. I feel like we were watched Top Gun at the drive-in a lot that summer!
Senior Year 1985–1986
Two of my other friends had Bugs that year and we even took a yearbook photo together, posing proudly with our buddies and our Bugs.
Memories like these are definitely priceless, as are the years that float in between. Our youngest child turned 18 yesterday and not only is it hard to believe that all four of our children are now adults, but it is hard to believe I am so many years removed from being 18 myself.
Some of these guys are ones who painted my VW Bug!
The phrase the days are long but the years are short is such a true and real sentiment. I long for the days when our children were little, would curl up on my lap for stories, and we would look at pictures together. I told them stories about my Bug, well most of the stories about my Bug, from the time they were little and over the years they have gotten me little trinkets as presents because they know how much mine meant to me.
They have given me stickers, a book about VWs, and Renée even gave me a toy VW Bug painted with daisies on it that sits on my desk in my studio to this day.
One of the neatest things I am appreciating with the passage of time is the merging of memories decades separated. It is the sharing of stories that give our children a glimpse into a past they never knew but shaped us, their parents, in ways they know so well.
I wish I still had that Bug to show my kids. Oh, there’s no way in the world I would let them drive that old thing as it would never be safe to ride on the roads of today, but it would be a fabulous yard sculpture for unique curbside appeal and provide priceless photo ops to bridge the generations of time.
Happy 18th Birthday, my baby boy and Happy High School Graduation to you and the rest of the Class of 2020! May you always, always, hold dear snippets of this year, as unusual as it is, and find the wonder of it to share with your own children one day.
Originally published at https://www.rachelleeason.com on June 11, 2020.