Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Pontiac Silver Streak Convertible

According to this article, GM Prepares to Scrap Pontiac, one among many released since Friday also speculating on the impending demise of the Pontiac line, GM may announce this week that Pontiac will be eliminated as a GM brand (something that GM denied in a statement on its website on April 24, 2009).

Will General Motors announce this week or in weeks to come that Pontiac is out? It seems likely, which sent me to the old photo albums to find these shots of my mother's prized Pontiac Silver Streak Convertible. She loved it so much that, as you can see, it was often the focal point or backdrop for family pictures.

This shot shows my mother, younger sister Nel, and me in the convertible at Lake Tahoe. Nice drive, that one, from Reno up the two-lane, Mount Rose Highway full of twists and turns and sheer drops protected by a few guardrails. Speed limit? Not on the open road, but some posted at the turns heading up the mountain. Seat belts? Nahhh.

What I find truly remarkable about my mother was her lack of fear, even in the face of experience. Three years earlier, in another car she owned, we were headed to Alameda, California, for Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house, and we had a serious accident. With a huge snowstorm brewing all day as she worked, she stubbornly ignored cautions from her co-workers urging her not to make the drive over old highway 40 from Reno the next day. But she was anxious to introduce her new boyfriend (we called him "Daddy Bob") to her mother, so the next morning we headed out -- my mother driving, Bob the front passenger, baby Nel in a child's carseat between them, and me in the backseat.

I remember the boredom of not having anything to look at out the windows. Blizzards do that to a view. I remember the anxiety between my mother and Bob, him telling her to pull over. Well, a bit later she did. She saw a cafe sign blinking on the other side of the highway and turned ....... right in front of a semi-truck going the opposite direction. The truck must have clipped us as they both applied their brakes and our car went spinning then slammed into a snowbank. My mom's door opened and, to my amazement, she flew.........I was so proud of her! I didn't know she could do that! She landed out there in what my memory still tells me was white desert sand. For some reason I blocked that it was actually snow.

Bob bumped his head and his arm was slightly injured. My baby sister was completely untouched in her carseat. I had an ache that made me cry and I was totally frustrated with a woman who ran from the cafe and held me on her lap in the backseat while she shook keys in my face, which made me scream more. My mother said that when she was lifted by some men over to the car and she got her first look at me she went into shock. I had blood pouring down my face.

At the hospital in Truckee, California, the three of us shared a room. They wrote about us in the newspaper because of the spectacular spill of hundreds of frozen turkeys carried by the truck that hit us. Evidently, people from nearby Truckee braved the storm to help themselves to free turkeys that were scattered all over the highway. My mother's knees were in terrible shape, not broken but battered like ground meat. And I had a gash on the top of my skull that required 22 stitches. My mother said she never did know what I hit my head on in the crash but I did some flying of my own in that backseat and collided with something sharp.

The car was totaled, and judging by the time of these photos it appears that my mother replaced it with...........the Pontiac convertible, a rather brazen choice given what we'd been through.

Incidentally, I don't think that my grandmother ever did meet "Daddy Bob," as the relationship didn't last. Soon afterward, my mother met and married the man in the photo below, the gentle man who raised us through high school.....the man who must have been instrumental in convincing her to replace the Pontiac with our Ford station wagon!

Dusty car, pastel Easter dresses....

free myspace layouts A few months ago I took this silly quiz -- What Type of Car Are You? -- and saved it in drafts thinking there might be some weird time when I could use it in a post. Duh.

My results were:
You Are a Convertible
You're playful and carefree. You are lighthearted in all aspects of your life.

Life is short and you act accordingly. You don't worry, and you try to bring fun into other people's lives.

You love feeling free, and you don't do well with rules or restrictions. You need to be able to do your own thing.

You feel more alive than most people. You can really savor the little things in life, like feeling the wind in your hair.



Erin Davis said...

I just love the way you tell a story, Lydia. I think automobiles feature prominently in many American family memories and myths. Your mother must have been one fascinating woman!

PS-I took the car quiz, and I'm a hybrid.

YogaforCynics said...

Gotta admit, I thought they stopped making Pontiacs decades ago....

Khaled KEM said...

You are talented in describing your stories Lydia.
I appreciate all your visits to my blogs and your thoughtful and detailed comments. They add more depth to the poems I post.

Thank you

Khaled KEM

Lydia said...

@Erin- Thanks much for your comments. Cars have been a part of our family landscape, eh?
Interesting that you are a hybrid. We'll buy a hybrid, next car.

@YogaforCynics- I must admit that I hadn't thought of or heard anything about a Pontiac for what seems like ages prior to this latest news. Reports tonight said that GM pulled Pontiac so it's a done deal.

@Khaled KEM- You are so busy with family and grad school, all the more reason why I appreciate you coming here and leaving such a nice compliment. Your blog is special place for me, and hands-down, it's my favorite blog design in the blogosphere. Your content more than lives up to the beauty of the design.



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