Monday, May 21, 2012

5-21-12 Childhood Cars

We were standing in the toy department on Saturday and I found myself looking at the remote control cars fondly.

When I was maybe 8, mammammy had taken me to Toys R Us and let me pick out a toy. I don't remember the occasion. But I do remember what I wanted. It was a cherry red and black remote control car with a horse on the hood emblem. I didn't know a Ferrari from a Ford, but I knew I loved that car.

I started thinking about how many cars I'd loved on television. Remember the Rockford Files' Pontiac? Starsky and Hutch's Gran Torino? The Dukes of Hazzard Charger? The Knight Rider Car? Man, I do.

I think my first toy cars were actually my Dad's. They were toy sizes of Fords, painted red. MeMaw had a closet, stacked to the ceiling with boxes. On the floor, the very bottom box, she kept these cars that I would play with, right there in the closet.

One summer in Oklahoma I used all of my summer spending money to buy four little pocket cars from the toy aisle of the little pharmacy on Main Street in Antlers. Shan and I pulled them back and let them go to race over and over and over. They fit into the palm of your hand and had big tires so they could handle the outdoor pavement we used. My favorite was the silver Porsche.

I had a pretty cool collection of Hot Wheels, but I kept them in a Matchbox carry case that was plastic with light blue racks that would hold a dozen and stack on top of another dozen. Because mom was an only child and dad had one sister who was 12 years older than him, I only had two cousins, Walt and Christi, who were both teenagers by the time I was a little kid. So I have almost no memories of playing with them. But I do have one very vivid one with Walt. We'd driven up to Brenham to visit Aunt Dot. If I was 7, that would make Walt 19. He was home. They always talked in whispers about Walt, who generally hung out alone in his room playing the guitar the few times I was ever there at the same time as him. He was a mystery to me. But this one time, I guess he took pity on me, a very bored kid who'd already roamed around Aunt Dot's house five times and found nothing to play with. He went up into the top of his closet and brought out the most awesome race car set I'd ever seen. It ran on something like half a dozen D batteries. We set it up in the front room, giant long stretches of orange plastic for the track, running through the Super Charger house that had spinning gears with rubber runners around them. The thing sounded like a lawn mower. The car fit through the opening, got grabbed by the runners, and shot out the other side hard enough to loop the entire track before hitting the house again. He sat across from me, cross-legged and skinny, sick and haunted, and he played with me for at least an hour. When we left, he sent home the entire race track and a bunch of cars with me that got a special place of honor in the top rack of the carrying case.

Maybe it was the next Christmas, or maybe a year after that, that the big Christmas present was the glow in the dark electric set by Tyco, which was very cool, ultra quiet, and it glowed in the dark for pete's sake.

But I still loved that Super Charger set the most.


Post a Comment