Thursday, June 28, 2007

Funkengroovin Wednesday - Down Memory Lane

Last night, after much work I thought I totally lost my whole blog. Then, I remembered having sent a draft copy to the Boss Man. I had been so excited about finding the old Bus photos. Originally, I was going to surprise him with the blog. Then I thought about it, and figured I’d need some additional information. He knows everything there is about the cars we’ve owned. He has a memory like an elephant – he never forgets anything, even the smallest details are lodged somewhere in that brain of his. I e-mailed him a draft and am so happy I did. I was able to take my draft, re-edit it (again) and voila! I know my blog post are somewhat sporadic, but my Funkengroovin Wednesdays were to be my regular posts and I was quite upset about not being able to keep my word. Thanks for the patience.

In 1984 the Boss Man bought a used 1969 VW Bus. We also had a new VW Jetta, which, at the time resembled the new Mercedes. It looked like the Mercedes, so much so, that everyone I worked with, at the Department of Human Services, in Sioux City, IA thought I bought a Mercedes (as if I had that kind of money). There was always a Merc parked right next to me, exact same color. Then, one day, I was asked if I blow-dried my hair on my way to work. One of the guys I worked with saw me in my Jetta, all blowers aimed at me, with my fingers and brush fluffing up my hair intermittently. What can I say? The Jetta had amazing blowers, and why waste time blow-drying my hair at home, when I could get a few more minutes of sleep, and have it done on the way to work? My answer was “you bet!” (“You betcha” is a colloquial variation most people remember from Fargo. I would like to add that Peter Stormare, who's seen putting a body through a wood chipper in the movie, is also the character in the VW UnPimp My Ride Commercial.) Sioux City, IA is basically Small Town, U.S.A. People are hard working, honest and courteous. Drivers suddenly stop for cattle crossings, or to pick up a can in the middle of the road for recycling; country roads are lined with corn stalks, and no one’s ever in a rush. It’s a bit like the description on A Prairie Home Companion, “…where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. (Garrison Keillor) As a matter of fact, weekend trips to see A Prairie Home Companion, in the Twin Cities are fairly common here.

Back to the Bus: The ‘69 Bus had a lame ass heater. We had to put a kerosene heater inside to get it warmed up in the wintertime, and I often wondered if we were being overexposed to the fumes. On January 14, 1985 I went in to work and a half an hour later was as sick as a dog. I left went to my OB/GYN who told me I needed to go to the hospital – yep, I was dilated. I wasn't due for about another month, but we weren't sure on that, and we hadn’t really “planned” this, either. So I went home, feeling totally out of sorts. I was burning up on the coldest day of the year (one that would set a record low) and, stripped off most of my clothing, and called the Boss Man. He told me to get dressed and meet him outside. He would drive me to the hospital in the bus. I used so much energy taking off my clothes I was exhausted and could not get myself dressed, much less climb into a VW Bus. Besides, we had the Jetta. What was he thinking?

He wanted to take me to the hospital, drive me around the block, until I gave birth, just so he could get a Fifty Dollar Savings Bond from Volkswagen. Apparently, they were giving them away to anyone who gave birth in one of their buses. As if. Sure, we didn't have a pot to piss in, but hey, it was a used bus. Who the hell knew what happened in that thing to possibly contaminate it. Remember the bumper sticker, “If this van’s a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’”? “Lady don’t laugh, your daughter might be in this van”

Well, strangely enough, when the Boss Man bought the Bus, he did some digging and tracked it back to its original owner. This guy was in the Armed Services and had taken it to Germany, then to Turkey, where the engine was rebuilt, and then brought it back to the U.S. He cut a pass through in to the middle of the front seat. Originally the van had a bench seat, much like you find in a truck. What were left were the two ends, which turned out to be very uncomfortable. The Boss Man went out and bought a pair of beat up seats from a Honda Civic for $20.00. They both had brand new covers too. Eventually the Boss Man replaced the engine with one from a Beetle. The engine in the photos is the original (love the duct tape – it’s so handy.)

So to sum it up: I went in to work at 8:00 AM and left at 8:30 AM; drove to my doctor's office; went home; removed clothing; felt like pulling my hair out, banging my head up against the wall and ripping my insides out; had a discussion with the Boss Man on mode of transport and why; eventually Boss Man helps me out - dresses me (while my mother sits in another room laughing - she had tunnel vision, but her hearing was amazing); and takes me to the hospital in the Jetta. No Volkswagen Savings Bond for this baby.

Strangely enough, that was Awesome Daughter's birthday and Number One Son just had his nineteenth. The only car he knows is the 1987 VW Camper Van aka Weekender. On the other hand, I went into labor, was transported to and from the hospital in it, so he’s probably got some pretty strong bonds to it. He’s essentially usurped it and practically lives in it now. In 1987, while I was the Boss Man's sag wagon at TOSRV, I saw all the new Vanagons and became insanely jealous. The Boss Man and I checked them out and decided we needed more creature comforts. We sold the 1969 Blue Bus to a friend of our nephew, and traded in the Jetta for the new van. We’ve had it ever since.

As I was packing up to leave Tuesday morning (to return to Cairo), Morning Joe was on MSNBC TV. Morning Joe, with Joe Scarborough replaced Don Imus’ live radio program, which MSNBC used to televise. I came in just at the end of a conversation Joe was having about an incident. From what I understand he was confronted by a woman who said, “You can’t drive a VW Vanagon. You’re too conservative.” At which he replied, “I drive it because I like it.” Well, hell! I thought they had a law against selling VW Vanagons to Republicans! If anyone saw or heard the show, I would love to know the whole story.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Tell Me Baby


  1. Twenty years since I sold that beauty for you guys - not possible!

  2. Hm. I didn't even realize that, even as I wrote the post. Wow, that means our '87 Vanagon is twenty years old and with the new engine, it runs better than ever!