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Monthly Archives: June 2013

“It ain’t gonna pass inspection with the rot,” said AAA’s Bill who towed the Saab story away this morning. She’s on her way to Saab heaven after a couple of terrifying rides a couple of months ago and just shy of her 30th birthday.

She did start this morning with the assist of a jump start. I backed her down the driveway my heart aching with memories of my parents. How could I let this relic go? The glove compartment had a box of matches from the Dunes Club, a tire pressure checker, a small magnifying glass. The Saab folder with manuals, registrations and insurance cards told of long family ownership. The ashtray held an open wrapper of tokens for the Newport bridge, a nail clipper, a dime, 2 nickels and 3 pennies. The map storage area on the passenger side had an appointment card for Mother at Guy’s and Gal’s Hair Salon along with street maps for Boston and Providence and 2 tape cassettes — one with Glenn Miller hits, the other called “Big Band Gold.” I’d be listening to them now except I can’t get the tape function to work on the tuner.

Rot is the least of the Saab story’s problems. If you look closely at the car in the side view photo, you’ll see rot in the body above the front tire. It’s been there through many state inspections — all due respects to Bill. I’m no authority on cars, but I can think of more important safety issues with the Saab story that would take precedence.

The little Princeton man, though his orange and black have faded, still leans on the “P” on the back window. He’s the messenger I send along with the Saab story as she goes to the dealer to see whether she has any useable parts.

Saab Princeton sticker

Now Bluey has the entire parking area to herself. She may not be as heartbroken as I am with this development.

Bluey by herself

Bluey by herself

It could be a parlor game, if people still played those: describe the person whose clothes are hanging on the line. Not to mention that hardly anyone hangs clothes on the line to dry anymore either. The clothes hanging on my line recently attest to a certain 20th century, East coast gentleman.

The clothes came from a trunk my father took to the Pacific in World War II. The trunk has been in a shed at my summer house for a long time, but not since Armistice Day. If the clothes now in the trunk crossed the Equator, they were under consignment to an American clothier.

The clothes he stored in the trunk were ones he would need when he came for a visit. Work clothes of course, because he was an unstoppable inventor of clever solutions to house and garden problems. Handles perfectly positioned on the guest house stairs where there is no hand rail or a section of an old 8 x 8 beam with 2 6″ galvanized nails hammered in its end to keep a hose at an ideal height and in position as it entered the vegetable garden, to name two.

He liked to travel light, so the trunk also contained various clothes he knew he might need but did not want to pack: summer pajamas, two polo shirts one with his Princeton class of ’41 reunion emblem, a mock turtleneck, a Brooks Brothers blue button-down dress shirt, uncharacteristically florid boxers, very characteristic shorts in khaki and navy, a couple of hats, Nike tennis shoes converted to work shoes.

I had not thought to check the pockets before putting the clothes in the washer. After all, my father is dead so his pockets must be empty. But no, a pocket in a pair of shorts had a cotton handkerchief. My father, who never used a Kleenex, could always produce a handkerchief from his pocket. A pocket in the work shorts had a small piece of sanding cloth, not sandpaper and not steel wool, but something in between. Like the handkerchief, it was something he was going to pull from his pocket to use.

A pair of cuff links also went through the wash. Cuff links? In a shirt of my father’s? Brooks Brothers, blue, button-down, each bespeaks my father. But I only remember cuff links in his tuxedo shirts and those were small and button-like linked by a chain not bold, chunky squares of enamel with a hinged post. He did not wear jewelry — not even a wedding band.

He did sometimes buy clothes at thrift stores. A tall, good-looking man, my father followed protocol in his dress and always was impeccably dressed, unless you take away points for thrift store pants that were not quite long enough. Maybe this dress shirt was in the trunk because it was “extra” — picked up at the Johnnycake Center not on Madison Avenue in NYC.

I’m going to keep a pair of long work pants because I can use them. I’ll keep the blue Brooks Brothers button-down collar dress shirt as well, but more as a memento than to wear. I hold that handle on the stairs and run the hose between the galvanized nails. It’s Father’s Day, and so my parlor game.