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Vamoose Old Van

August 14, 2009

We found nothing in the price range of $9,000, which was the replacement value for the totaled Montana. But by then shopping for cars on the internet had become common, and I spotted the Windstar, manufactured the same year as the Montana, for $8,000 – an amazing bargain for a 4-year-old car, even then. It had a very small indentation on one side — not even a real dent — and it was clean, relatively new, had low mileage and was loaded — power sliding doors, backup sensor, back seat air conditioning, captain’s chairs for the kids, and a great stereo system. It was the minivan we had always dreamed of.

That last part is a bit of a lie. My husband and I had never considered ourselves minivan people at all, which is why we were attracted to the “Montana,” with its I’m-not-a-minivan-but-a-rugged-mountain-vehicle-sounding name. We bought that first non-sedan kicking and screaming, but later had to admit it really helped with the literal kicking and screaming — from the two small but space-hogging kids we now included in our clan. By the time the Windstar presented itself, we had tasted minivan life, and we knew that the heaving Ford, with its V6, high crash rating, and TWO power side doors, was the piece de resistance in the world of Big Comfort for families toting kids, grandparents, more kids, and massive amounts of furniture from Ikea.

I think I know the reason the Windstar was so cheap. Inside, the vehicle was almost pristine except for two sets of defaced armrests on the back-seat captain’s chairs. Anyone could get a dent on the outside, but the indelible ink scribbles probably conveyed “used” to most people who held the illusion that they could keep their own children from doing such a thing. But the solution for the tan and black interior was simple — two pair of double-ply black nylon knee highs slipped over the four armrests (the kind without the heels molded in). Honestly, no one ever knew about the scribbles.

The van has been a workhorse, carrying the aforementioned Ikea finds, a pool table, and tons of suitcases, relatives, and friends. Its roof rack has been the scene of family trauma as the result of things flying off of it. Recently, it carried flawlessly our heavy old metal canoe to Lake Habeeb near Cumberland, Md.

As the kids got older and I started working more, the van became my husband’s car, as much as he disliked that, but he’s 6′ 2″, and my 5′ 4″ frame fit much better in the Toyota mini SUV. As a passenger, I found the van big and comfortable, but also cozy because it could carry all of us, plus anyone else who happened to be over or need a ride. It was always a welcome guest for Brownie and Girl Scout trips, and birthday party caravans. It was a vehicle made for easy naps, snacks, and conversation — a natural for long trips.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2009 10:47 am

    You’ve made me all misty eyed.

  2. Lisa permalink
    August 18, 2009 1:57 am

    Goodbye old van, we’ll sure miss you around the neighborhood. Thanks for sharing your memories Danna

  3. Liz permalink
    August 18, 2009 9:34 pm

    Let’s see–10 years, 2 kids, and at least 5 daily trips in AND out of Drumm Avenue! God Bless that old car!

  4. August 20, 2009 1:46 pm

    Good one! That’s like the old blue Toyota we had for so long. It died on the street. J. called Salvation Army to pick it up and finally they came, but kept driving past us, lost. J. was chasing them down the street in the rain. They couldn’t get the plates off, so rusted, but J. persisted — “Please, I beg of you, take this car away.

    Then, the towing truck got everything squared away. He pulled away slowly. The Tercel that brought D. home from the hospital, in the snow, was being sent away forever. It had been arrested, cuffed and hauled away like a forlorn little prisoner, its crime, the ineptitude of mechanical old age.

    We get so attached to our vehicles!

  5. September 6, 2009 2:59 pm

    Goodbye old van, we'll sure miss you around the neighborhood. Thanks for sharing your memories Danna…

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