in his backyard haven

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

CARS Part 3 of 3

Part III of III

Gotta love those Hondas!

My Dad GAVE us his 1990 Honda Accord when Dennis first got cancer (in 1997).  I was driving Den to “CITY OF HOPE” (about 75 miles) and to the Parkview Cancer Center (30 miles)   on weekly and daily runs for 10 months.  My Dad was worried that the Corsica wouldn’t last so he wanted us to have a safer car.  Now my Dad was a frustrated inventor who was always decades ahead of his time.  Long before we had it in our make up My Dad had invested in stock in Jojoba Lube.  He not only invested in the “stock” but he bought stocks of oil!   He poured that oil into every receptacle of that Accord and she hummed.  Eventually we gave that Accord to Katie and Ryan and they drove it until this past spring.  How many miles were on that, Katie?  215,000 you say!

The last brand new car that we bought is our 2006 Honda Ridgeline Truck!   We got some inheritance money from Grandma Betty and Dennis was itching to have a truck.  He was looking at ugly used “working man’s trucks”.  I was searching on-line and came upon - again - a first new model, Honda’s first pickup truck.  It had everything I wanted in a luxury ride but plenty of muscle for “work”.  Dennis was NOT interested - so what to do but to “trick him”.  I begged him to let me peek at a little Honda sports car and he caved.  As we entered the dealership the barracuda salesmen rushed toward us.  I walked ahead of Den and said “sell him the Ridgeline!”.  By the time that guy finished with Dennis you would think Dennis invented the Ridgeline!   I took a leave of absence from work and we drove across country for six weeks.  We went from San Francisco to Cape Cod and Minnesota to Little Rock, AR and all parts in between.  We had the best road trip ever!  XM Radio was new - it was wonderful to match the music genre to the location on the map: cowboys, blues, hillbilly, etc.  Additionally we had a six-CD changer that was perfect for loading books on CD.  We loved listening to Nelson DeMille books like: “Night Fall”, “Up Country”, “Wild Fire”, “Plum Island”, etc.   In the past seven years we’ve had many terrific road trips in our wonderful Ridgeline!

I’m keeping the Ridgeline for a while but it wasn’t our last car.  When we sent the 1990 Accord to Virginia we had just purchased the 1998 Honda Accord from Liz and Jay Reed.  That was a sweet little sedan with leather seats and all the amenities.  When I took delivery she had about 73,000 miles on it and I drove it up to 141,000.  We never had trouble with it and it was always a proud little buggy for me.  After my mechanic went to the great shop in the sky I passed it along in the family to our niece, Aimee DiGiovanni.

Dennis and I loved to drive together!  We built a lifetime of memories in our cars.  You’ll always be sharing the front seat with me, My Dear!

Our CARS Part 2 of 3

Part II of III

People, watch out when your partner disappears for a year!

In 1983 Dennis went to Sicily for a one year remote assignment.  That means the wife gets to stay home with five kids and “carry on” while the Dad is carousing around “club med”.  Liz was learning to drive and we had carpools all over Sherwood, North Little Rock and downtown Little Rock.  It was becoming very difficult to transport the crowd of six.  (What will we do when Dad gets back?  We can’t fit seven people in one car.)  On Friday, January 13th 1984 the house burned down from a lightening strike.  (another blog entry)  With the proceeds from my jewelry claims I had $7000 plus and determined we would get a vehicle big enough for all the kids and Mom and Dad!  The kids and I were excited about a “van”.  (Remember, Dennis was in Sicily - I was on my own!)  But, I was “SOLD” the first ever Dodge minivan; it was all white with red vinyl seats and held seven passengers.  I had to wait for delivery but I put that whole $7K as a down payment.  I was damn proud of myself!  When the kids came home from school I told them we would be getting a new car that would hold everyone.  Joe said: “Oh Mom, I hope you didn’t buy one of those white mini-vans with red seats - they’re so cheesy!”  (eye-roll)  We had a family discussion and the next day I went back to the dealer and asked for a refund.  He was stunned!!!!  Asking me “why”, I explained that I had promised a “van” to my kids and we really needed something bigger than the seven passenger.   I said I’ll keep looking.  Imagine, they produced a used12 passenger Chevrolet diesel van!  It was ugly brown and tan - but it accommodated TWELVE!  We had a blast in that thing!  It became the star in future vacations and I became the carpool Queen!

Dennis was stunned that I bought a diesel and was a bit worried.  But he checked with the motor pool guys and learned that I bought a very fine “Cummings Diesel”!  It served us pretty well - but wasn’t without some drama:

  • surfing to the “Beach Boys” ~ if we removed all the seats the kids could stand up and “surf” as we embraced the Arkansas hills...
  • plenty of room beneath the bench-style seats meant we could stash a full sheet cake on the floor under the front seat but it slid all the way to the back seat - under Amy’s feet - boy was Dennis livid when she stepped down on that cake and tracked it all over the car....
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation O’Donnell style ... at the Grand Canyon we stowed all the kids in the car but didn’t latch the rear doors ~~~  yup - luggage strewn for half a mile.... (no blonde in red Ferrari - heh heh)
  • You can fit a whole Christmas tree inside the van ...  too bad it was riddled with ticks!!!
  • Oh, and don’t forget when the brake peddle just fell off - yes, thankfully I was driving uphill to Mt. St. Mary’s High School and I had to use a privet hedge to stop!
  • The last vacation was cross country to California when the fuel filters (there were two) clogged up and Liz - the driver - was harassed for driving too slow on the highway.  “But, Dad, I’m practically standing on the gas peddle!”  That was east of Albuquerque; by the time we arrived in Albuquerque the electrical went berserk and the door locks were popping up and down, the windshield wipers flapped at full speed and she died just as we cruised into downtown Albuquerque.
  • When we got back home one of Den’s buddies was going to help him replace the fuel pump and do a little minor “overhaul”.  They began stripping the engine parts because the pump and some other part were unitized under the engine.  Well Den was working on one side and the other guy on the opposite side.  Each had beautifully laid out all their parts in nice orderly fashion.  The other guy got a phone call about some emergency and he took off.  Poor Den was yelling something about “all those parts on your side of the van...”    
  • I guess we left that thing in Arkansas ~~~ LOL.

Our second brand new car was ordered by me, from Arkansas, but negotiated by Dennis in California.  Liz, a student at UCLA, was commissioned to accompany her Dad and “make sure” he gets cobalt blue - not burgundy.  Liz can fill in the details about she and her Dad wheeling and dealing to find Mom the perfect newest model - yet again - 1988 CHEVY CORSICA.   Some details of the process included a cocky salesman who asked if Dennis’ “wife” (Liz) liked the choice; when Liz promptly corrected the man he made passes at her.  Dennis was on cloud nine...

Now, in case you are keeping track of the thread you should have noticed that most Chevy’s seemed to get traded after a significant usage.  The Corsica lasted about 12 years - it was our first disappointment with Chevrolet.  The engine was terrific but the paint peeled off and the accessories failed rapidly.  We tried to DONATE it but it kept coming back to us.

Meanwhile - we were still driving the 1970 Monte Carlo!  We drove that thing for 32 years!  Someone decided to try to “fix it up” and enter it in the annual Route 66 parade.  I don’t know if it made it to the parade but it caused great “mourning” for Dennis to part with his beloved Monte!

Our CARS - 3 Brand New in 45 Years!

CARS: Three Brand New Cars in 45 years!

I couldn't sleep one night and started thinking about our cars.  My ramblings got so long that I've broken the blog into three parts:

Part I of III

When Dennis and I met on my 16th birthday in 1962 he was driving a blue-green ’56 Ford Fairlane, hard-top.  He also worked at Ford Motor Co on the assembly line.  The Ford was our date car until he acquired his Dad’s 1958 Chevy Belair Impala in anniversary gold.   (Vern always bought a new Chevrolet every three years.  Betty received the older Chevy and when Den got into the plan he bought the 6 year old car.) 

The Bel Air was hot stuff, huge enough for three couples and built like a Sherman tank; and eventually was very pricey.  Dennis wanted to “secure” our relationship but couldn’t afford a diamond ring so he designed a birthstone “promise” ring for my birthday.  He took the design to Lenco Jeweler in Los Angeles and ordered the peridot set in a gold flower.  When he went to pick up the ring in the Bel Air he was “crusin” on Santa Gertrudes in La Habra and had a close encounter with a car that ran a stop sign.  Her car was totaled by the tank Bel Air which spun around 360 degrees while Dennis laid flat on the front seat.  (It was the first car they had with seat-belts; the belt left a huge bruise!)  The ring was saved; the car was repaired and lived a long life many years.  He sold it to a vet when Den went into the Air Force on July 5, 1966.

The neighbor was “Daddy Laughead” - or Dave’s Dad - a former Navy pilot who taught the teens their way around engines.  Den was a great student!  He always said he could  fix any car with a hammer and a screw-driver.

We got married in 1967 and rode in Vern’s brand new ’67 Impala - but only for the wedding.  Den bought the ’61 Impala for our first car together.  He was almost late for the wedding so he could put on new tires, change the oil and have it washed!  We drove it a few years.  Liz had an aluminum and canvas baby bed that tied in the back seat; later an aluminum and vinyl car seat that hung over the back like a swing.  Dennis said it was real fancy since he had grown up using a wooden orange crate to sit on.

In 1970 I was pregnant a second time and Dennis’ enlistment was up.  We had a choice: 1) chance it in the civilian labor market without insurance, or 2) re-enlist and have the government pay for this birth!  The re-enlistment came with the bonus we needed to buy our first brand new car.  We lived in Lompoc, Ca but Dennis went to Vern’s fleet dealer in the LA area to order our “Malibu”.   Well, he came home all wide-eyed with excitement!  There was a new model called the Monte Carlo!  It was a sleek 2 door with all the latest gadgets.  He went south to pick up the new car in late March while I waited in Lompoc.  When he returned on March 31st I was in labor and we headed to the base.  What is at every base entrance but a guard shack and several young bucks - and they had never seen a Monte Carlo!   They had to check under the hood, kick the tires and generally inspect everything before we got through!  Joe arrived shortly after midnight on April 1st!  It was a grand event - a new son and a new car all at once!

Well, pretty soon we acquired the ’67 Impala (see a pattern here?).  We were now a two car family with three kids and we got a lot of milage out of the wedding car.  Dennis being pretty handy with automotive tools maintained that car until our first-born, Liz, was able to drive it to high school!  

The Monte and the Impala were our staples for many years and eventually became known by our friends for all the clever applications Den used to maintain them.  Did you know how useful those paper and wire “bread ties” can be under the hood?  These cars remained with us from California to Wichita, KS and on to Sherwood, AR.  We filled them up and kept them running!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Memories from Detlef

Back in the 1980's (maybe 1985?) we had the pleasure of hosting an exchange student from Germany named Detlef. It was great during that time - he was just in between Liz and Joe in high school and it was great for Joe to have another guy around the house for that year.

Detlef has recently shared some memories of Dad during that time:

Dear Peggy,

I hope and wish that you are all good,
that life in this new period of time is giving you hope,
I know that Dennis will be with you,
and that sunshine and joy will be with you.

Sorry for the very late reply writing you,
the earlier mail which I received through Helmut and Gerlinde [Detlef's parents] already came as signal,
I was praying for Dennis that he is not in pain and is feeling the best he could,
it is great to know that all of you where there with him, with your love and presence and caring for him,
looking at your blog the first time where you all came for Dennis,  it must have been great for Dennis,
being surrounded by his loved ones what a beautiful bunch you are, he must have felt very proud and loved.

It was a good time and very important time for me with you in Arkansas,
and I am thankfull for that,
having had the chance to be so welcomed and accepted in a family, 
in a new surrounding,
four sisters and one brother all of a sudden,
being introduced to "weekend garden work" by Dennis which makes me smile thinking back, 
I made a note back than on one of the pictures where I hold the shovel,
" after working hard in the yard moving mud got 5 $", 
I guess that had impact on me,
Dennis introduced me to the real world ; ).

Dennis detailed explanations all thought out and half scientific, mostly took place in the garage "the workshop",
and sometimes seemed to have no planned finish or end, one episode could blend into the next one.
One thing Dennis and Helmut where sharing is having old or used cars, the good thing was that Dennis was able to fix them,
even when it took a while.
Also hosting me and Phillip in your house in California are really nice memories,
it felt like an extension of my time with you after Arkansas,
being back and part of the family thank you for that.

I will scan some images which document my time with you and Dennis you might not have,
sorry if my face appears to often, hope you like the pictures.

Peggy you were always so much caring and giving,
I really wish you the best in this troubled time 
I will pray for you that your life will take a nice path in sunny California,
and that joy and happiness will guide your life,
with Love from me and all Schneiders,
all  all   best,


Detlef "moving mud". (I think he was digging for the swingset?)

Christmas. 1985?

Dennis and Peggy going to military ball

Dennis on Capital Hill, Little Rock, Arkansas

Detlef and Dennis

Detlef - Saturday morning chores