by Brenda Roger
I found myself laughing abnormally hard in the middle of a conversation one day; eyes- running-can’t-catch-your-breath hard.
We were talking about a van that my family had in the late 1970s. It was affectionately referred to as “The Pie Wagon.” Yes, as you can see, the outside of the Pie Wagon was a treat, but the inside was where the cool factor really shot up. Being avid do-it-yourselfers, my parents customized the inside themselves. There was a “deck” in the back, which was basically a raised area that ran half the length of the vehicle. That was covered in carpet that was a blend of black and red yarns –snazzy! The walls were paneled and the floors were all covered in the lovely carpet. We had a small refrigerator and ………. an eight-track tape deck. I can still hear the Rita Coolidge songs when I close my eyes. There was one other fabulous element to the décor, but I’m saving that for later.
There were many fine family memories made in the Pie Wagon. I think I was about five or six when it showed up on the scene. You could pile an army into it. We carted around our Springer Spaniel, and two or three of my male cousins (the brothers I never had). We once picked up a lady whose horse had run off on her. I still remember her crouching between the seats with her eyes peeled while my mother raced to catch up with the horse. Once, we were having an impromptu McDonald’s picnic on a summer day, burgers and fries spread out in the back of the Pie Wagon with the double side doors open –then a gift from the universe –my sister sat in ketchup. If you ever met my sister, you would see why this was a gift from the universe.
My favorite Pie Wagon story involves the pièce de résistance of van accessories circa 1979. Way before anyone cared that when you stop fast in a vehicle, small things like children become projectiles, we actually had two bean bag chairs in the back of the Pie Wagon! One day I was innocently cruising along in the back of the PW, sacked out in my bean bag chair, and wham! My Mom had to hit the brakes to avoid a collision and I careened across the carpeted floor in my slippery vinyl blob and did a face plant on the back of the passenger seat. The next day I had a shiner, and my first grade teacher was very interested to hear how it happened. I told her the whole story and I can still remember the look on her face. It was a look that said, “that must be true because no one could make that up.”
Now none of these things that I’ve shared are the reason(s) that I couldn’t stop laughing. I was laughing so hard because part way through the conversation about the PW, I truly wished we still had it!
Do you have any good family car stories?