Wheels – Times Past

Wheels – Times Past

Generation baby boomers and growing up in Lüneburg, North Germany

First memory: jumping into my parent’s bed on a Sunday morning, excitedly asking over and over again: “is it true? We got a car?”  I must have been about five or six years old, when my parents got their first car: a white Opel Kadett. It was the first Opel and my parents never drove any other kind of car afterwards.

Second memory: being about 10 years old. My father had lost his driving license. Since my grandmother was handicapped and unable to walk longer distances, it was decided that my mother should learn to drive. At that time we had a huge Opel Kapitän and my mother, barely 1, 55 m high had to use two pillows in order to look over the steering wheel. But she was great in maneuvering this ship. Every day she drove my father to work, picked him up at 1 o’clock for his lunch break and delivered him back in his office by 3 o’clock. At the weekends she delivered him at his football club and picked him up after the game.

Third memory: being fourteen and having a crush on an 18 year old boy who already had a license. He took me along when he bought his first car, a Toyota Celica. He drove like a maniac and I was scared sitting in the car with him, but, as I had a crush on him and wanted him to like me I didn’t say a word. Luckily for me the relationship lasted only four weeks. Then he dumped me for an older girl and I was heartbroken for weeks.

Fourth memory: being seventeen and going out with Jens, who was twentyone and at college (Polizeifachschule) to become a policeman in the criminal investigation department (Kriminalpolizei). He had two friends: Nobby and Harald, both into cars. Being a good girlfriend I listened to Jens and his friends many times. They did nothing but talk about cars and I was bored out of my mind. But again, I was brought up to consider the man’s need more important than my own, so I sat next to Jens and pretended to be impressed by their talk.

Nobby was into BMWs. He was a bit special, as he grew up without a father and his mother somehow managed to buy him a brand new BMW 5 when he was nineteen. Jens and Harald spent hours speculating how they could afford such an expensive car. Harald was into Ford Escort, he bought really old, shabby cars and restored them. Jens was into motorbikes and Peugeot, since his parents were into Peugeot and he always got their old car when they bought a new one.

I was nineteen when I had the first car of my own. A white VW beetle. By then I was a kind of au pair in the Washington DC area, and I treated that car really badly. Quite honestly, up until today I feel that a car is simply an object to take me from one place to the next, but guess, what my partner is into? Have you guessed? Right, he is into cars, old-timers, especially American cars. However, I am not a good girlfriend anymore and he is old enough as not to expect the women in his life sharing this interest.

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