Thursday, August 12, 2010

I loved my love bug almost to death

I may be kidding myself, but I think I can make something out of that sad little bucket of bolts. 
 ~quote from The Love Bug (1968) 

I fell in love with the artistry of Michael V. Manalo when I first saw this image. My husband will love it too when he sees this post because he owned a red Volkswagen Beetle in high school/college. I've seen his photos of it and am envious of them.....because I did not take any photos of either one of my Volkswagen Beetles, not the one I loved or the one that replaced the one I loved after it was wrecked.

My great "Bug" that I bought in college was dark blue with a classic sliding ragtop. It looked just like this one (except the color). My first bank loan was for that car, and, although co-signed by my then boyfriend who was a young attorney in Reno, my fulfillment of all requirements of the loan really did usher in my adulthood. It was a big day when I paid off the loan and the car was mine.....such a big day, in fact, that I bought a boutonniere for my loan officer and took it to him during my lunch hour!

And it was a horrid night when I was broadsided on U.S. 395 while driving into town to my boyfriend's condo. I split my time between his place and my mother's house outside Reno, and on that particular evening I had clothes packed for several days plus other items loose to take to the cleaners the next morning. Lining that stretch of highway on the outskirts of Reno were many small motels and quite a few taverns. There was no speed limit and my usual speed was around 70 (I often washed my long hair at my mother's house and drove with my head tipped out the window to dry my hair on the way into Reno). So I was clipping along at a decent speed when I saw a car pull out from the parking lot near a tavern. It was the farthest thing from my mind that I was in danger of being hit, but the man at the wheel was an altered driver and he barged out onto the road to head in the opposite direction (toward his home in California, I later learned). He rammed the passenger side of my "Bug" and I rammed the windshield of my car. Unfortunately, my eyeglasses were made of glass, and not plastic as now, so their collision with the windshield shattered and cracked all glass concerned, tearing open my right eyelid in the process. Dazed and bleeding, I hobbled out of my car.....hobbled because the force of the collision had sprung open my door and actually knocked my left shoe off of my foot and into the middle section of the road. The drunk driver who hit me helped me into the bar with his wife screaming at him behind us. The bartender, who obviously had already called the police, pulled his phone from nearby the cash register to where I sat and I called my boyfriend. In the meantime, that bartender actually was slimy enough to offer me a drink. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to refuse, realizing that he wanted alcohol on my breath as well as on the breath of his drunk customer.

My boyfriend arrived quickly and was there when he heard one cop say to another as they looked at all the clothes strewn inside the car and outside on the pavement: "It looks like this little hippie is living out of her car" (those were the days, eh?).  He sidled up to the cops and said, "I am the little hippie's lawyer; do you have additional opinions you would care to share with me now or would you rather wait until I question you in court?"

I was taken by ambulance to one of Reno's hospital ERs where one of the town's premier eye surgeons, summoned by said boyfriend, sewed up my eye. My injury and bruises were extreme enough that I dropped out of that semester of college. And my great "Bug"? A local fighter bought what was left of it with the intention of turning it into a dune buggy. I hope he was able to make something out of that little bucket of bolts.


Michael V. Manalo: his website is special, his photography sublime.



izzy said...

Phew ! quite the memory! my best friend had a convertible bug, I remember how stiff and cranky the foldable canvas top was to put up. We got wet on occasion.
The seats were way too low for me -like
my Grandmothers old Buick, I could not see over the dashboard !

ds said...

Wow. That is some story: in parts funny (hanging your wet head out of the window to dry your hair), in parts beyond scary. So glad that you made it through with "only" a stitched-up eyelid and a few bruises even if they did keep you from college for a term. Great boyfriend--what happened to him?
Thank you for the lovely comment you left at the window today.

English Rider said...

Some cars we fall in love with, others we don't.

Darlene said...

Boy, were you lucky to have the presence of mind to refuse that drink and to have a lawyer for a boyfriend.

I guess any accident that you can walk away from is a good one, or so they say. Too bad for your little Beetle, though.

My son had one when he was in College, too. The VW was one popular little bug.

Lydia said...

izzy~ I actually had forgotten about the stiffness of the ragtop. We were in the high desert so not much moisture and maybe it made it easier to manipulate. I never thought I'd see a VW Bug likened to a Buick for any reason, but there you go!

ds~ I should have stayed that semester, as it really set my timetable back. It was vanity: I looked like a troll and limped like a ghoul. :)
I broke it off with the boyfriend two years later and there are no regrets. He went on to be hugely successful in the law and is currently serving in an appointed position on an esteemed commission in Washington DC.

English Rider~ You are right, and there have been two more since then that I did love.

Darlene~ Absolutely, if I had had alcohol on my breath those cops probably would have cited me instead of the drunk, being as they loathed little hippies and all!
I've had two other accidents (none my fault, one when I was a toddler) but none since moving to Oregon .....knock wood.

Rhiannon said...

Oh my my what a story! I am so sorry about the accident, that sure seems like it would have been very scary..thank goodness for a "lawyer boyfriend"! I hope you don't have a scar on your eyelid area...scars of life sometimes brings up "oh that's when I did such and such" and the memory of it.

Once again we have something in common! I bought my first little "sea foam" blue VW Beetle bug from a son of one of my mother's friend at her church. It was a cute little bug...I just loved my first car! I put little daisey flower stickers on each corner of my back car window...and "love and peace" on the back bumper sticker. I had that car for a long long time. We went through a lot together. Then I married and moved to Japan for a year....and sold my bug. In Japan they had even smaller cars and the little orange "dinky thing" that I drover there I called "Rubber band"..that's what it sounded like anyway.

Upon coming back to the states a few years later I bought an almost identical color bug just like my old one but it the sea foam color was felt just like coming home again...weee! Loved it. Then years later second marriage of 15 years it was time to say good bye to my "true blue" bug and living in the S.F. bay area at the time my husband and I put it up for sale. Ended up being bought by a very interesting man...the Rolling Stones manager. He was so English and so funny. So, we got all the paper work transferred for the sale and I said I said good=bye to my bug. I had tears in my eyes. 4 days later the Rollings Stones manager left a message on our phone that he was so so sorry but he thought I'd like to know that he had got in a car accident and "totaled" my "little blue" was gone..taken to where they take cars that died. I cried and cried..silly I know..these attachements. Used to drive my first bug down Topanga Canyon, Malibu canyone, or Ventura Blvd...headed for the ocean..with my old music tapes full blast and loving life...sigh.

Oh, by the way did I mention that I learned how to drive with my mom and dads large VW bus! I also took my drivers test in it also...that parallel parking they made me do was not fun...but I passed!

I still miss my 2 little I know how you feel...I've got photos of them and at least I can get the out and look at them from time to time...ah memories of being a Hippie, freedom road and no fears in life and lots of fun and least we can keep those happy times in our hearts Lydia..

~ Tabitha ~ said...

" Red punch buggy - no returns "

Lydia said...

Rhi~ Talk about a story! I think selling your bug to the Rolling Stones' manager, and then even getting a call from him that he had totaled it, is one great story. I can only partially relate...when my ex and I moved to Oregon for him to go to law school (yes, I did have an addiction to lawyers but I overcame it!) we had a new Mazda with the snazzy rotary engine. It was a great car but we realized we couldn't afford the payments once we got here, so we put an ad in the paper saying "law school forces sale..." -- and one of his law professors and her husband responded to the ad and bought the car. About a year later they rolled it up in the Cascades, and it was totaled but they praised the car for saving them. (I still keep in touch with her.)

You must have had some great times in the Malibu area...I love your stories of that time in your life.

Tabitha~ A-ha! You got me!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

ok so firstly that is one hell of a memory and thanks for sharing - a very personal and yet engaging account.

Secondly - VWs are coming back into fashion here - Beetles never really went away, but the law in the UK is that vehicles over 25 years old are tax exempt - so a lot of men in their 40s are buying VW Camper Vans and restoring them in an attempt to re-capture their childhood!

Not me - my midlife crisis is my saxophone!

the watercats said...

Man!.. there must have been something out there watching your back! I love driving.. the most fantastic piece of advice I was given by my mum was; don't trust ANY other driver, expect everyone to do something stupid!.. more than a few occasions this has spared me from the ditch, especially in this country, lol!

mythopolis said...

Ooooh...don't get me started. I've had 5 bugs in my life, and currently a 72 superbeetle convertible...mid-restoration. I had a head-on in my first bug and on the day of my wedding as the little bride and I headed off to live in another state. No one was hurt. Amusingly, the head-on was with another bug. Both cars wound up in a cornfield, and all parties mostly felt humiliated, and stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Lydia said...

Pixies and Watercats~ Yikes, I just realized that I did not reply to your comments back in August. Forgive me, please! I really enjoyed reading them again just now. Thanks so much. :)

mythopolis~ Five bugs! That is quite a record, and your crash story is quite a story. It is great that you are restoring that '72...give it a little pat from me.



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