1960 Rambler American

(30 July - 9 August 1991) after Oliver Wendell Holmes

My first car a white two-door 1960 Rambler American a rounded aerodynamic refrigerator on wheels a large bar of used soap with an engine and a radio curved in circles at every turning I worshipped it I wanted to drive it every night along the curving back roads of Sonoma county in the light of the white moon and the silver road like a silver ribbon pulling me into the quiet river of nature silently gliding with the night owls in the fresh cool air I had bought it from my older sister for fifty dollars when she got married I was fascinated by its circle of instruments a single black circle behind the steering wheel I experimented with its dimmer in every shade of darkness I watched the speedometer climb and waver the odometer the gas gauge the temperature gauge crawl fall rise I grasped and turned the black round dials of the radio my spaceship controls to tune in the green cosmos my love my hope my life climbing wavering crawling falling rising gliding out of town and swaying out of mind into the blue soul of complete liberty hypnotized by motion in the changing perspectives of trees and clouds like a river it conveyed beauty in moving permanence a big gentle river far from the sea I could get gas for twenty-five cents a gallon and my new brother-in-law was an auto mechanic It wasn’t perfect for example at fifty-seven miles per hour the front end shook so violently that I drove at only fifty-five on the freeway The flathead six cylinder engine kept overheating whether the problem was deep in the block or in the radiator clogged with rust I don’t know I replaced hoses gaskets wires and spark plugs 5 and 2 were always clogged with carbon getting about fifty miles per quart of oil The poor front alignment wore the front tires through the threads in patches I tried to avoid running over rocks on the road but driving north on Ely Road just past the railroad tracks the front right tire suddenly went flat When I removed the tire I noticed a hole that I could put my thumb through and the rock tumbling inside I suppose that I lied about its condition its overheating wasn’t because it was a hot day the day I sold it but the young man was more interested in its round white body than in its reliability like any other young man in love.