A Near-Perfect Day

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

There it sat; gleaming in the late September sun; the chrome shone so brilliantly that I was forced to squint through my giant white-rimmed, movie star sunglasses. It was a Buick alright. A 1934 black Buick. The “Goddess” hood ornament was magnificent; an Art Deco statue of a woman in all her near-naked beauty, arms flung behind her, awaiting the wind that would tousle her tightly coifed hair. Oh my! To be behind that grand steering wheel, or even seated in the elegant passenger seat, would be a dream come true.
Many of the cars, arrayed like so many sticks of colorful candy in a shop window, were more than dreams come true to the proud owners of hundreds of vintage and classic automobiles; they were what made our mouths literally water with desire. The annual Cruisin’ to the Classics Show in its 13th year in Senoia, Georgia has become a not-to-be-missed event in our small town. And Bill was not going to miss it for nothing!
So we called our Gulf Shores condo manager and asked her to leave a package out for a Sunday arrival. The lure of rows and rows of muscle cars, customized pickup trucks, “big, bulky, gas guzzler” boats, and little foreign cuties, were difficult for Bill to keep his hands off of, (especially since they “weren’t that kind of car”). We have had at least one from each category over the years: a 1952 Volkswagen (with a little oval back window) in 1961, a ‘55 blue and white Chevy in 1963, a ‘55 Buick Special, yellow and white with chrome from here to Detroit! There was the navy Ford 500 convertible, the Woody station wagon, and my red 1967 Mustang.
But I have had my eye on sleek black town cars, touring cars with picnic baskets, Art Deco gangster cars with bud vases in the back seat for years. We were once chauffeured to a Christmas party in a nearby German town in a big, bold Mercedes sedan with soft leather seats the color of a Mocha Frappe. Yum. I once drove a Bentley sedan that took my breath away, but Bill was too much of a skin-flint to buy it from the neighbor up the street. Pooh.
We loved being at the show this year with our daughter Leslie. I am sure she loved hearing our tales of each of the cars we had once owned and that were now featured classics. “I may have been Born, but I really don’t remember the navy convertible, or the yellow Buick. I did love the big green station wagon with the well in the back, though. So much fun. No seat belts, just quilts and games!” We didn’t find one of those on any of the many, many streets and parking lots where an amazing variety was shown off. Must be it is too rare. And we never found Dennis Gates, of “My Classic Cars.” We missed him.
If you missed the bright red and white Citron on Main Street or the delightful pea green Chevy next to it, you missed a huge treat!! The mechanic under the hood or boot or bonnet (who knows if there was an engine in the front of that car) was hooked up to some kind of electrical unit and just every now and then…his feet would twitch. We all jumped a little, and squealed if you were a girl (like me). The green Chevy, a 1954 I think, was tricked out with a window tray from a Drive-In diner and hooked up to the old grey metal speakers from the Drive-In Movies. The hamburger looked a little fake, but the frothy ice-cream soda tempted me to stick my finger in and swipe the whipped cream and cherry off the top. That real.
I loved reliving our long married life through the dated automobiles; cars that the proud owners had brought to show off, hoping for prizes or just for the sake of seeing others admire their carefully “detailed” babies, because these vehicles are pampered and polished, buffed, shined, and rubbed till they sparkle like a squeaky-clean Baby. Bill fell in love with about five different pickups. I have to admit they would look good in our driveway. No one was selling those.
The handsome older gentleman sitting comfortably in the cool shade behind McGuire’s Pub had my car without realizing it. He had brought his stunning 1934 four-door Buick (with the twin chrome horns aside the split grill) to be admired, but I would have driven it home, if only….Ah, well.
Now that I think of it, I would have been in perfect style for my next appointment. Sheridan Bratcher had invited me to help her with a small wedding at the gorgeous Dunaway Gardens near the quaint town of Roscoe, Georgia. How fitting. I learned later that the gardens opened in 1934 as a theatrical training ground for stage performers. I believe Minnie Pearl was responsible for teaching eager students in this lush setting, its amphitheater on the river a marvel of natural engineering. Well, I was certainly in the right place; I just needed that grand black car with the shiny, shiny chrome trim. Perhaps a large hat with a droopy garden rose to adorn it, like those Sheridan and I placed on the Bride’s Cake. Gorgeous. I just wanted to stick my finger in the icing and taste it. Just a little taste.
Back home in Senoia, I just had time to take a quick shower, get all that theatrical star-dust off my feet, and slip back into something casual so we could head over to a friend’s place for a Low Country Boil. How fortunate I felt that day. A short glass with a tiny bit of Jamieson’s, the company of sweet friends, and a plate full of shrimp, little fat juicy critters who had come that very afternoon from Savannah. Ahhh. Now where was my ride?

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