In 1955 I was 26 years old and had been married for eight years. My husband was a difficult and complicated man who, I found out much later, had gotten married because all his friends had wives and he wanted one too.
He was a total playboy with no idea about what being a husband involved and therefore thought all his wishes came first. Although I had a great job in Philadelphia, I was dependent on him to drop me off at the train station in the morning and pick me up in the evening.
We only had one car which my husband needed for his job. He also used it to stop at friends’ houses for a drink after work or join his cronies at a bar. He never seemed to remember he had a wife who needed a ride home.
There were times when he was over an hour late to pick me up — okay in warm weather but as this was a whistle-stop for the train, there was no station building per se — only an outdoor shed for shelter from the elements but it offered no warmth in winter. The cold was penetrating after fifteen minutes, to say nothing of what it was like after an hour’s wait.
You can imagine how ecstatic I was when a neighbor put a “For Sale” sign on his 1951 Studebaker Coupe, the model with the chrome nose cone. The car’s body had once been a shiny black with no dents, but by 1955 it not only had dents, scratches and a bent front bumper but it had lost its nose cone leaving a round hole where the nose once had been.
None of the car’s shortcomings bothered me. I had to have it. My independence and self-esteem depended on it. I struck a deal with my neighbor and for $50 drove the car down his driveway and up mine. My husband made fun of the new vehicle and declared then and there he would never ride in such a heap of a wreck. Good news, I thought.
I named the car George and even if he was missing his nose cone, he was all mine. I purchased a gallon of black enamel paint and a big brush and painted the chassis. The result was a finish full of brush marks but I loved the car anyway. Secretly I knew some of its dignity had been restored right along with mine.
I proudly drove myself to the station every morning. When I stepped off the train in the evening there was George waiting right where I’d left him. George was loyal and faithful. I loved the way his headlights winked, his front bumper smiled in a bent sort of way and the hole where his nose cone should have been made him look at me with intriguing and meaningful crossed-eyes. But it was when I turned the key in the ignition and his nose hummed a happy tune — that I knew he loved me too.
George and I remained a happy couple for many years. I can’t say the same for my marriage!