Volkswagen Beetle

A Bizarre Childhood Memory

Our brains can be so strange sometimes. This morning, when I awoke, for no apparent reason on earth, a childhood memory popped into my mind as vividly as the day it happened when I was 6 years old.

Volkswagen BeetleMy mother had taken my sister and me to my Aunt Helen’s house. My two cousins, Susan and Pat, and my sister and I got into their old VW Beetle in their carport and pretended to drive. Since I was the oldest, naturally I “drove.” Our parents assumed nothing could go wrong.

But, early on, pretending to drive just was not the exhilarating experience I had imagined it would be. I definitely needed more. Now, we were smart enough to know that Aunt Helen wouldn’t give us the keys to the Beetle; so, on to the next best thing. I made my sister and my cousins get out of the car and push the beetle, which I put in neutral, while I steered us on to our adventure.

Funny thing, memory. I can vividly recall the smell of the old VW Beetle. It had a very distinctive smell. Perhaps odor would be a better word than smell. Those VW Beetles definitely all had that distinctive VW Beetle odor!

Anyway, we couldn’t go too far forward or we would drive off the carport. So, when we got to the edge, I made them push the car backwards. When we finally finished traveling down Route 66 with the warm wind in our hair—well, okay, my hair since they were pushing, the VW Beetle was literally sideways in the carport. Mission accomplished.1

Truly, I am amazed one of us didn’t get run over or crushed. I guess I was just an excellent driver at a very young age.

Graffiti MuralGetting together with these cousins was always a bad idea! On another occasion, we got out the crayons and drew a huge mural on the white back wall of their house—their freshly painted house. But, see, that created the absolutely perfect canvas for our twentieth century reductionist masterpiece!

Frankly, it’s a miracle any of us survived childhood. I’m confident our parents wanted to beat us to death. As I recall these events, our parents were far more angry about the back wall than they were about the possibility of my running the other kids over with the car2. I suspect, in some way, the later would have been a bit of a relief.


  1. Actually, putting the car sideways was never a goal I set out to achieve. It just happened somehow. 

  2. I guess my uncle repainted that back wall after scrubbing all of that waxy crayon mess off of it.