Seeing an old car opens the memory.
| Three times in the last week I have passed a 195? Hudson Hornet heading south on Route 9. It was a dark green color and not highly shined like most autos of that era that have been restored. Could it have been sitting in someone's garage all this time?
My area contains a bevy of thirty-five to fifty year old cars: Ford Falcons, a Romney-era Nash Rambler, Chevy Impalas and even a Corvair, but the Hudson Hornet was one I never thought I would see again.
When Ford brought out its Taurus, a wag said it looked like the Hornet redivus. I could see the point looking at the Taurus station wagon, that aquarium on wheels. Now that I have seen a Hornet again, I can say that the anonymous writer's description extended to the Taurus sedan. The Hornet also bore close resemblance to Hans Solo's Millenium Falcon. Solo's model came out in 1977; the Hornets dated from the early Eisenhower era.
I knew no one then who owned one, but I could see their pictures in my brother's magazines. These he had piled all over the bedroom we 'shared', a space no more than ten by fourteen feet. Mechanics Illustrated, Popular Mechanics, and other rags were stacked three feet high in places. In them were photos from NASCAR races at Daytona, Darlington and who knows where else.
The photos showed no huge grandstands. In many it looked like the cars were running on dirt, but prominent in all were Hudson Hornets, which were built like tanks and made for the rough stuff. The drivers had names like Junior Johnson, the Flock Brothers and the soon-to-be-dead Fireball Roberts.
My brother, who was six years older than me, was a packrat. His horde overran every available space in the room except my bed, the drawer of the chest that contained my clothes, one shelf of a small bookcase Dad had fashioned out of an old cradle, and the gym bag which held my baseball cards. Sitting atop the bookcase was a radio on which my brother would tune in WWVA late at night and listen to country music.
He was also a starter of projects never to be finished. Most of these he kept in the cellar, like the model of "Old Ironsides". In our room was a short wave radio that he had built from a kit, and which he apparently failed to ground. Turn it on and touch the case and it would provide these neat little charges of electricity.
Naturally I reacted in just the opposite manner. I stored things in my head, engaged in periodic cleanouts ~~yes, the baseball cards that could have made me a millionaire were among the trash~~ and finished my models. I recall the B-24 bomber which I worked furiously on to complete, only to find that the engines on the wings were too close together and the propellers would bump. My models were also famous for the thumb-prints where I touched the wet paint in my haste.
Brother Don continued as a hoarder and unfinished symphony man into his adult life and marriage. His two hundred year old house bore evidence of ideas begun with the best of good intentions, but which were put off for better days. His collections of flotsam overflowed the garage. Last year I saw the warehouse he used as a base to build and rehabilitate real estate. I think Don stored the jetsam there. Perhaps the only things missing were thatch for a cottage with leaky roof and a Hudson Hornet.
Summer nine years ago, he died suddenly while riding an old chain-link bicycle on a country road in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He had a massive heart attack and did not suffer. At his viewing I stood in a reception line with his wife, children and my sister. Strangers came up to us. One told me of working with Don selling Christmas Trees for the Boy Scouts twenty-five years ago. He had read the obituary and wanted to come. Others told tales of a man who had touched them in some other way: part of memories they'd squirreled away like those magazines that filled so much of our room many years before.