UD Student Justin Foley's "Auto-Biography": 1988 Plymouth Voyager; 1988 Pontiac Grand Am


My earliest memory of an automobile is from when I was around five years old. My younger brother, who was three years old at the time, and I were excitedly exploring the vehicle that my parents has just purchased. It was our first mini-van, a 1988 Plymouth Voyager. The baby blue paint was the perfect back drop for the stylish wood panels. She was absolutely incredible in the eyes of my brother and I. We loved the bench seats, the personal lights in the back we could control all by ourselves, and perhaps best of all, the curtains that could be untied and stretched to cover the windows. Those curtains came in handy on long trips to and from Youngstown Ohio where our grandparents lived.

I most remember the winter time two and and half hour drives from Columbus to Youngstown. As amazing as my brother and I thought the Voyager was, the heating was absolutely horrible. If my parents turned the heat up all the way, they would be roasted in the front seats, too low and we would be freezing in the back. We compromised with something in the middle and my parents gave my brother and I a big sleeping bag to cover ourselves up with. Two and half hours was a heck of a lot of time for a three and five year old to amuse themselves, so my brother and I were constantly trying to figure out new ways to cure our boredom. Probably one of the best days of my life to this day was when I figured out that if we stuck our heads inside our winter coats and rubbed our hair on the inside, we could make static electricity that would light up in the dark. Of course, we had to close all of the curtains to ensure that it was dark enough to see the sparks.

While we were not traveling to Youngstown my mother stayed at home to care for my brother and I while my father went to school full-time and worked full-time. Two cars were necessary. My father drove a 1988 two door Pontiac Grand Am. The car was silver and gray, inside and out. I always thought it was very stylish. The Grand Am had a four speed manual transmission and the way my father drove always amazed me when I was younger. I always held on to the notion that nobody could drive the Grand Am as well as he could.

My evidence was in my recollection of one particular drive through Holmes county Ohio—“Amish Country”. There was almost no other traffic on the road they day were were driving and it was just my father and I. I was already feeling special because he let me ride in the front seat, something mother forbid. I was enjoying having my window rolled down and letting the fresh summer air glide through my hair when my father turned to me and asked: “do you think we can go one-hundred miles an hour?” I just stared at him in amazement, speechless, and smiling ear to ear. He understood. He floored the accelerator and we took off! I didn't know where to look, forward at the road or at the speedometer to see if we made it to one-hundred. When we hit one-hundred my father let out a “woo-hooooo!” and so I did the same. After slowing down to the speed limit and letting the adrenaline settle for a minute or two my father only had one thing to say: “don't tell your mother.”

There have been more cars in my life beyond the Grand Am and the Voyager, but none hold the same type of memories. I'm sure when it comes time for me to purchase my own car I will begin building more memories to add to my auto-biography. Until then however, I will savor what I have.


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