Victoria

My Place column

A wistful Tom Manning reflects on 50 years of the family Chevy.

On the tattered bench seat of the old Chevy, my left hand falls comfortably in the depression my father's hand wore in it over the past 50 years.

The cavernous interior, now strangely silent, once thrummed with squabbling kids on so many trips to the bush and beyond. In-car entertainment was a bag of apples and a portable tape player on the front seat.

Dad's Chevy. I like cars but this one moves me in dimensions beyond the mere mechanical.
Dad's Chevy. I like cars but this one moves me in dimensions beyond the mere mechanical. Photo: Tom Manning

My mother played Peter, Paul and Mary and Neil Diamond. All seemed to be right in the world.

I like cars but this one moves me in dimensions beyond the mere mechanical. Like my father, whose mind is tip top but whose limbs are brittle, it's a bit rusty but in fine condition mechanically, thanks to his regular and careful fettling over the years.

With his many idiosyncratic little modifications, it has a strange but functionally screwed-together beauty. 

My arm rests on the seat back while I drive with my son beside me. I look at him with that odd, peaceful gaze I could never forget and think about who I am. 

Do we become our parents? I drive and wonder if I could ever be half the man he is. So much of his personality, attitudes and good taste seem to be personified in the old Chevrolet. 

The concept of anyone keeping any car for nearly five decades today seems elusive. I sit in the old car and drink cider.

My father will never drive the car again and I wonder about its fate.