An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Once Upon a Time We Bought a Car

Once upon a time (seventeen years ago, to be exact) we bought a car. The Dodge Neon wasn’t fancy, and it lacked all the bells and whistles which are the norm today (such as automatic door locks and windows), but it was sensible, affordable, and very, very reliable.
The original invoice

At the time of purchase, Nicholas was five years old, Jonathan was three, and Timothy wasn’t even born yet which (as Joe would say) meant he was -4 years old. And while the Neon technically wasn’t the “family car” (we had our van for that) it played an important role in our family and marked certain rites of passage.

In 2006 and 2009 Joe took the boys to a bowl game to see Penn State play (first Tampa then Orlando, both wins and both games played in the pouring rain). During both trips the boys were buckled in the back seat of the Neon wearing their Penn State sweatshirts and clutching their Penn State pillows.
Bowl Bound

They boys also learned all about car maintenance – how to change and rotate tires, check the oil, add washer fluid, and change the air filter. A few years later, both Nicholas and Jonathan learned to drive with the Neon, and it was the car they used once they earned their driver's license. 
Car Maintenance 101
I can do this!
Learning life skills

When the boys entered high school, we were still a two car family but on the days Joe’s carpool picked him up the boys used the Neon to drive to Aquinas, dropping off their little brother at St. Mary’s and picking him up again in the afternoon. They drove the Neon to prom, to work (Jonathan at Arby’s and Nicholas at Mellow Mushroom), and to their high school graduation.
Eventually we purchased a third car, enabling the boys (at different times) to have the Neon with them at college.
Heading to the Senior Prom
High School Graduation

All those years the Neon was also the date/getaway car for whenever Joe and I went out to dinner to celebrate an anniversary, or whenever the two of us had a weekend getaway (without the boys!) to Charleston, Asheville or Hilton Head.

Over time our trusty Neon began to show some wear and tear: bare patches in the paint, clouded headlights, a leaky floorboard, glitchy locks, a faded interior. The engine burned oil. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it was still peppy and it could accelerate like nobody’s business.

Then last month while driving home from SRS, the Neon gave a little hiccup and simply quit, drifting slowly and laboriously to the edge of the road. Later that night we watched our trusty Neon, which had never broken down before, be hoisted onto a tow truck; the next day we listened to the mechanic as he told us that the timing belt was broken and couldn’t be replaced; and just like that, without any fanfare, we realized that our trusty Neon was no more.

It was salvaged for $350.
in the garage
When we went to the garage to sign the paperwork, there was our car – broken, taken apart, reduced to bits and pieces of this and that. We retrieved the phone charger, the jumper cables, a St. Christopher medal. We took some photos.
bits and pieces of this and that

saying goodbye to our trusty Neon

And we walked out thinking how Once upon a time – 17 tears ago, to be exact – we bought a car.

Afterword: After the Neon died, we did not purchase a new car . . . but Nicholas did; however, that is another story -- filed under Novajosky News -- coming up soon.

1 comment:

Suburban Correspondent said...

Amazing how physical objects can hold such memories for us! I cried when we tossed our broken-down kitchen hutch, crazy as it sounds. It was our craft supply repository for years and held so many memories of times spent in the kitchen with the little ones.