have mentioned in previous stories about the Dodge
van that my father used to take us on our many camping
trips. My Dad purchased the longest van (and often
complained that it still wasn't large enough for
our family and our stuff) that Dodge made in 1973.
It was a sky blue and white color and we had more
adventures with the van that it often feels like
a part of our family. This wasn't just a vehicle
to us; along with the camper, it was our home away
to the driver's seat (always my Dad's seat) was
the coveted Co-pilot Seat. In this seat, you could
pretend that you were driving (except if you were
arguing with Dad or being yelled at). You were often
high above other vehicles and traffic and the wide
mirrors on either side also gave you ample area
to make faces at yourself or to other unsuspecting
drivers. Since they couldn't usually see you, one
was free to jeer at their vehicles or pretend to
front of the Co-pilot Seat was the glove compartment.
In the van, this door was a little loose and certain
bumps would jar it open, freeing Wrigley's Spearment
gum or Big Red gum, pens, pencils and other important
car-related tools. It was the co-pilot's job to
close this as soon as it happened before too many
items made it to the floor. Lord help you if you
were daydreaming, watching traffic or picking your
van made a constant rattling noise that was usually
Dad's tools, but mostly was the sound of old nuts
and bolts that had gotten lost in the constant removal
and replacement of tools. Along with the sound of
the road itself, it was actually a soothing sound.
back two seats were full-length couches that were
the usual domain of the children. On each armrest
were metal ashtrays that could be flipped open and
shut if you were bored (as I often was). After a
lengthly recital, my Dad would ask me if I was nervous.
I never understood why he asked me and I would always
answer "No." and continue flipping the
ashtray. Eventually he would ask me politely to
stop, followed by more fervent requests, often screamed.
Sometimes the ashtrays had to be removed so that
Dad could drive uninterrupted.
last seat in the back, all the way to the left was
The Pouting Seat. From here, yu could safely scowl
at the family member that you were usually mad at
and be furthest away from anyone. You had a good
view of the large window so you could scowl out
at the scenery or the other traffic and wish that
you were sitting in one of those cars with more
understanding families. The Pouting Seat was also
the best place to be left alone because usually
nobody could hear you or you could pretend to not
hear them. If you were mad at Dad, you could stare
holes into the back of his seat while he drove,
fairly sure that he couldn't catch you since he
was occupied with the road. Eventually though, you
would be called out of The Pouting Seat and back
into civilization and the rest of the family and
forced to sit in front.
back of the van had a camper hitch, of course, but
this wasn't always in place. A mystery how it worked,
we all avoided it, except to climb into the back
of the van. If touched, a brownish grease coated
one's hands and clothes. My Dad would yell at us
if we used the camper hitch to climb on, but we
always figured that if it could hold a camper in
place, then of course it could hold the weight of
side of the van bore obscure writing that was from
a decoration celebrating my one and only season
as a Little Leager for the "Indians".
You could still read this travesty, as the masking
tape used to spell it had removed some paint when
it had been scraped off. This was of course, the
kids' idea, not my father's. He spent a lot of time
defacing his own vehicle removing the paint and
he spent a great deal more time letting us know
how awful masking tape was to decorate cars.
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