This story is about my father’s curious menagerie of cars and drivers during my childhood. He needed drivers because he was blind. But the hit parade of cars? Well… that’s another story.
“Unlike my grandfather, whose only car, as far back as I can remember, was a well-loved gold 1967 Ford Mustang, my father went through cars with a gambler’s cavalier disregard. While my grandfather and all of my friends’ fathers carefully maintained the family vehicle, we never went on a vacation without a car breaking down.
My father’s short-lived vehicular delights—like all other property—were mere flights of fancy. Nothing was sacred: a yellow Chevy Malibu, a brand-new red Chrysler convertible, a green Ford station wagon, a Chevy van with the words Quong Tai painted on the side, a beige Mercedes sedan. The list goes on. In addition to land vehicles, my father briefly owned a four-seater twin-engine 1967 Beechcraft Bonanza. The plane came with a personal pilot, who drove a VW bug, smoked cigars, and lived with us for a period of time.
While for many people the family car was a hallowed institution—thoughtfully purchased and preserved—my father’s cars appeared out of nowhere and were readily discarded, as were his drivers; although we all became much more attached to the drivers than to the cars. In the big swap meet of life, cash rarely changed hands. Cars were often thrown in as part of a bigger business deal. If not a car, then a collection of estate jewelry, antique dolls, or Chinese rugs. My mother never knew what sort of flotsam might float through the door at the end of any given day. Not to mention, she—the manager of all things domestic, and the family chauffeur—never knew from one day to the next what car she would be driving. It was a quirky game of roulette my father played. Perhaps if he hadn’t lost his vision as a young man, we would have had one car, like other families.”
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