Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: CAR

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann. I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
Here are January's prompts: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.


The Dykes Family, 1975
As a family of seven, transportation was always an issue for us. I only ever remember us having a van (not a car) – and those never seemed to hold up for very long. (These were the days of the “maxi-van,” before minivans were invented.) One year, when it became necessary for us to get a new van, our parents – against their better judgment – took us with them to the dealership.
Maybe it was a sudden thing, in that the old van stopped working, and we had to get a new van that very day. Probably there was no place else for us to go.

In the parking lot of the Dodge dealership while we waited for the salesperson to collect some keys, our father instructed us to keep quiet. We were to be “seen and not heard,” so that he could handle the negotiations. He expressly forbid us to voice our opinions about any of the vans were about to see.

We all nodded and promised to keep our mouths zipped. It was exciting to move in and out of new-to-us vehicles, some of them still sporting their new-van smell. Perhaps we were able to keep our promise through some of the vans, but when we got to a brown custom van complete with plush tan seats and beige curtains on the windows, we just couldn't stop ourselves from gushing. I mean, there was a sun roof. In a van! We'd never experienced such luxury. We happily settled into our spots, adjusting armrests and pulling levers, chattering the whole time about how much we loved it, and how much we wanted it.

As my father frowned, the salesman beamed. He had us just where he wanted us. And yes, we came home with that van. How our father scolded us! But it didn't matter. The van was ours – though I'm pretty sure the curtains didn't last more than a few months before a screw came loose or a rod broke. We never once used the sun roof. But we sure went a lot of places in that van! And when the time came to replace it, our father went to the dealership alone.


  1. Ha! What a fun memory you've shared, Irene. I love your memory of the chatter over that luxurious van. The girls just went through this 'search' with their mom. They were so excited about picking a new car. I don't have childhood memories of that, but do remember the first 'new' car Arvie & I had, very exciting!

  2. With 4 kids, our car was packed too. Dad always brought a "new" used car home to try out and we'd all go for a ride to see how we fit. I love how the word "car' brought up such wonderful memories for you. Thanks for sharing them...made me start to think, too!


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