I was 11 or so when I took this photo (the original — this is Photoshopped). I was on a road trip with my dad and grandparents who were visiting from Greece. We were heading to Iowa City to visit my birthplace and where my dad had completed his residency — a boring trip with lots of opera in the background.
But I took some interesting photos with a medium format camera my dad had given me. It had been given to him about 20 years earlier as he boarded the ship to emigrate to the U.S., a spontaneous gift from an uncle who had rushed down to the port to see him off. In those days, you had to go to the port to see if your visa had been approved for that day’s ship. If so, you had to hurry!
(I haven’t been able to find the camera for years. I feel awful about that. I think it was in a box of stuff I gave to Salvation Army.)
But I do have the poetry from this road trip that I wrote by the glow of the personal reading light in that enormous Lincoln Continental. You turned on the light from a switch in the armrest, next to the personal cigarette lighter and personal ash tray.
The Lincoln was probably one of the longest sedans ever made. It barely fit in our garage. You had to pull it all the way in to the point where the front bumper practically touched the wall. If you came up short, the garage door would bounce off the rear bumper, reverse direction for a few feet, then automatically try to go down again. This could go on for hours if you had gone inside quickly after parking.
Once I drove the Lincoln right through the garage and into the laundry room.
I was about 12 and sitting on a phone book so I could see out of the windshield. I had gotten into the habit of taking the car out for a spin on our street after school while my dad was at work (we’d gotten another car so this one was at home, waiting to be sold). One day when I was pulling it back into the garage, I hit the gas instead of the brake. That big bumper went right through the wall and into the laundry room. I was horrified! My excuse when I called my dad was I had backed the car out into the driveway to wash it as a surprise for him and screwed up when I was pulling it back in.
Of course, I then had to quickly wash the car to cover my tracks. Amazingly, I did not get in trouble. Nor did I take the Lincoln out for a spin again.