Thru the years we have had many customers, friends and fans of Vintage Auto Appraisal. One of our biggest supporters has been our friend Benjamin Neideigh. Not only a lover of quirky classic vehicles he is also an author and poet. We are honored to be adding one of Ben’s poems to Vintage Auto Appraisal Magazine. We hope he lets us share more of his wonderful bombastic intelligent writings to these pages. Why do you ask are we adding poetry or sonnets to Vintage Auto Appraisal Magazine? ..Hey we are trying to “Class Up” the place. Thanks again Ben.
The Long Car”..
The Long Car was, well… long. I can’t imagine it could ever belong In any single modern parking space. A sad fact must be faced: Cars aren’t like that anymore. In many ways, they’ve become a snore. Sleek and smooth? Gadgets galore? Yes… but hardly style. Certainly not enough to stretch a quarter-mile Like The Long Car did. You’d agree If you’d been back there back then with me
The Long Car was long on everything: Stretched white sheet metal… fins as big as wings… Chrome encrustations, Plus even more ostentatious decorations Plated to resemble gold… Vast soft top that, into trunk, would fold… Jagged four-pointed star on the hood… Inside, blue leather, buttons, plastic wood… As Fifties as a Fifties car could be. Always filled me with glee. What a sight to see.
The Long Car fueled my dreams. Quick hops for cheeseburgers and ice cream Became motorcades. I rode, an imaginary boy king in crown and brocade, In the back seat, being too young to drive. But ah, that dream? Long kept it alive. In bad times, that dream helped me thrive. It was something almost real for which I could strive. Me, behind the wheel Of a vast, bombastic, American automobile.
The Long Car dream came true in Sixty-Eight. What I’d feared mere fantasy was, in fact, fate. Top down, rolling from Locust onto Second Avenue, It was all that I could do Not to push the gas pedal through The floorboard. But that would have been rather untoward, And gotten me grounded to boot. So, the point being anything but moot,
We wafted through town and out Into the country circling all about. Cruising past fields of alfalfa, tobacco, corn… This was the reason I was born: To drive this car, smiling, recently Eddie-shorn, A “decent” kid with an indecently fine ride. It was a ride I could much more than abide, An experiential taste that would always be delicious. And… such were my wishes.
The Long Car drive? Sadly, the only one. Too soon, the dream was done. The owner was unhealthy, Underinsured and hardly wealthy. He needed the money. Nothing about the situation was funny, Save for the fact that he replaced This ride befitting a bonafide ace With a Rambler. Had I been a gambler, I would have never bet on that. From automotive nirvana to mere function, flat, Plain, uncomplicated, somewhat dumb… And, of course, I was numb. That was to be my car. There had been discussions. But, after the sale, there weren’t even repercussions. No conversation. No consolation. It was simply gone. Automotively speaking, I had to go on.
The Long Car lives in memory. Perhaps someday, if all factors can agree, I’ll own something similar. Long drink of wine after decades of vinegar. Oh, of course, it hasn’t been that bad. It’s just that I never really had The car that I thought would be mine. That car so fine. That car so gaudy. Those car fantasies so bawdy, That back seat full of hot romance And unsightly stains on teenage pants… It all slipped through my fingers, But the desire lingers—
Not for, of course, the teenage stuff— But for a Long Car sweet enough To smoothly cruise, display at shows, To go where everybody goes When memories and motoring converge. The older I get, the more I feel that urge. Long Car, wherever you are, You’re still, in heart of hearts, the brightest star In my car galaxy… And you always will be.
For the record: The Long Car was a 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V two-door convertible, white with blue top and interior. It was owned by my Uncle Merritt (Mom’s middle brother), and was in a way an artifact of his second set of dating years.
He’d been married and divorced; I remember his Packard from way back then, but not so much my aunt Janet. The Mark V, his second consecutive white Lincoln convertible, came on the scene about the time he began courting the woman who would become my Aunt Mary. Mary was a sweet woman: an amateur potter, a great cook (first person in the family to use Lipton Onion Soup Mix as a seasoning for roast beef), and a severe Type 1 diabetic who would eventually die of that disease.
Actually, I think Mary took to Merritt, in part, because the Mark V was white. Mary loved white. When she and Merritt bought a house in a development called Ancient Oak near Macungie, PA, the entire living room was upholstered white-on-white-on-white… and then promptly covered in plastic to preserve it. Yes, even the wall-to-wall carpet.
Merritt had always talked about selling the Mark V to me. My high school brain squirmed with big-car-on-campus imaginings. But then he had his first heart attack, and the car went poof. I was never forewarned. One day he had it, the next day he didn’t.
Fast forward to 1984. Merritt, by then a widower living near Orlando, FL, died of his final heart attack. At the time, he owned a ’75 Lincoln Town Coupe. The car was a rather disturbing peach-beige in color, but had a creamy leather interior, an actual factory-installed in-dash CB radio, and one of Merritt’s bowling bags in the trunk. Both the car and the bowling ball fit me perfectly.
I intended to drive the Lincoln until Matt came of age, then bequeath it to him. But, because Merritt died without a will, my cousins imposed on me to put the car up for sale as part of the disposition of his earthly belongings. At the time, I didn’t have the money to buy it myself—at least not the appraised lump sum. So that Lincoln went away, too.