Loving the memories that last for a lifetime

“To reminisce with my old friends. A chance to share old memories and play our songs again.” —Ricky Nelson

Waxing philosophical or romantic was not what I set out to do at the car show last Saturday. That’s what crossed my mind, however, as I sat comfortably perched in my folding chair in the shade while visitors admired the shiny waxed cars and trucks on display.

What crossed my mind were the bonds formed early in life and how they continue as lifelong memories becoming more precious with time…like appreciation for an old car. Maybe it’s reminiscing about a car we had, one a friend had, or often the one we had when, “in the spring of our life, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

While pondering such deep thoughts on a warm October day in East Texas, I noticed a couple pausing for a moment to inspect “Miss Vicky,’ my ’55 Ford Crown Victoria. They caught my eye walking the rows of cars together, often holding hands. They were, like me and Vicky, vintage—give or take a few years. When they paused to inspect her, looking her over and talking about her, that was my cue.

Leaving my perch, I ventured out into the sun for one of my favorite parts of attending car shows—sharing memories with people and making new friends.

Offering my best hello, the lady responded saying she was looking for the number on “this car” to vote for it. I told her “this car” was number 16 and since it was my car I would be most happy for her to know the number.

Her companion began talking about how he liked it because he had a good friend in high school who drove one similar to it and then talked about his car from school days. He described a Ford from the same era as mine in which he swapped out the original motor for a more powerful one from another car. That was common practice in early hot rodding days when Olds, Cadillac, and Lincoln motors often found their way under the hoods of lighter, less powerful cars. A transmission and rear axle swap reminiscent of the late 50s with components from the local wrecking yard completed his recollection of the exact style of cars I grew up with and still love.

“All right,” I said jubilantly, “A real hot rod like they used to build them, using parts from other cars and not out of a catalog.”

“Oh yeah,” he agreed, “Got everything out of wrecking yards. Bought the motor out of a wrecked car for fifty dollars.” We reminisced about the old days of hot rods, wrecking yard parts, and untold hours spent on our backs underneath them to keep them running—fun stuff.

As they left, I walked with them, extended my hand to shake his and said, “It’s been a pleasure visiting with you.”

always by your sideHe acknowledged the same. Nodding toward the lady I assumed to be his wife, I reached to shake her hand when he introduced her as a friend from school days and how they had just recently reunited. Recalling with a smile, he recounted memories from how they became acquainted and classes they had together many years ago.

I told them I enjoyed not only the car memories but also loved hearing their special story. Then I watched them walk away as they had arrived: holding hands.

Comfortably perched back in the shade, I smiled, sighed and returned to my earlier thoughts of bonds formed early in life that dominate lifelong memories: “…sharing old memories and playing our songs again.”

 —Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas, Light and Champion and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune newspapers.

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