Did you ever see a 1954 Kaiser? No? It is probably for the best. It was what my friends called a boat. Wide-spaced shark’s teeth for a grille, tail fins, a Jeep Continental engine, and a bamboo interior. The back seat was like a full-sized sofa, it went well with the white side-walled tires. No one ever asked why I wore a paper bag over my head. Yeah, it was that bad. Teenagers always want to stand out, but not in a ’54 Kaiser.
My dad worked for a bank and often drove drove home a repossession. One evening and for many evenings afterward, he pulled into the driveway in a two seat ‘Sunbeam roadster.’ A convertible with leather seats and a four-speed shifter. Cute and fast, under the hood were three one-barrel carburetors.
Each day I drove the boat to school, each day he downshifted into the curves. Sometimes it is not hard to be jealous.
Then a miracle happened, My father suggested that I buy the Sunbeam and he would help with the financing. I was shocked, could it be that I was to become the coolest guy on the block. Whether I was or wasn’t, I sure felt like it.
Twenty years later while sitting in the shade drinking iced teas, I smiled and asked the question of all questions. “Why did you want me to have the Sunbeam?”
” One day,” he said. ” I looked in the Kaiser. The back seat was big enough for a bed. I decided there and then you were in the wrong car.”
With a smirk, ” It was all about birth control, the Sunbeam didn’t have a back seat…”