Birthdays. I am rubbish at sending my family their gifts in time for their special days. I work and go about my life, writing down plans on my calendar and then I see oh yes, yes, it is infact October 18th and hm what a lovely day. On the evening of the 18th I will be meeting friends for drinks or going to a movie or making a meal for someone or deciding perhaps I should use that evening as a work evening and OH MY GOD IT’S MY BROTHER’S BIRTHDAY TODAY! Gift-buying-on-time-to-send-t0-the-states fail. So I called him and we had a good chat. It was a bonus phone call in that I was able to talk to my little nephew who informed me that he had been making ‘good decisions’ in school.
Me: “What kind of good decisions have you been making, William?”
Him: “No hitting. No biting. No shoving. No kicking. No talking. No running inside. No stomping….”
(all of which imply that he had been doing these things)
I was grinning quite a lot my many thousands of miles away from that small voice telling me about his bad behaviour. What a sweetheart.
So anyway, I needed to rectify the issue of having not produced a birthday gift for my brother’s birthday. What could I find or buy or make? I looked through the prints left over from The Connecting Thread and found the house in North Platte, circa 1950-something. And parked right beside the house, my grandfather’s car.
From what I can remember of stories told by my dad and my aunties, my grandfather owned a pink cadillac during his FBI workin’ days. How rock and roll. How Elvis. Why a cadillac? I can imagine him driving his growing family in that massive pink ghetto sled (what the kids used to call something that big and boxy back in the 90’s). I should ask my dad and aunties about their experiences in that rather stunning vehicle.
During my summer holiday to visit my family in Nebraska, one of my aunts told a story about clambering around Chimney Rock. My grandparents had driven across the dusty plain and let the kids out to run around that gigantic landmark the pioneers used for guidance. The kids had climbed quite a distance when my grandfather received a call (how? This was in the 40’s or 50’s or something. I imagine it wasn’t a compact little Nokia contact) demanding that he chase something/someone/leave wherever he was as he was needed elsewhere. Their children were called for, yelled for, waved down and quickly they came scrambling down as it was of the utmost importance they very speedily dash on to whatever emergency was causing them to exit quickly.
When I visited Chimney Rock this summer, we could only get within a mile of that thing. The idea of a big old car bumping along some small country road is an entertaining thought. I can see the dust whirling around the car as they stop, the door pops open, releasing a couple over-excited children.
Later in his life, my grandfather acquired another caddie. He must have been in his 70’s. I remember visiting home one year and there it was, parked under its own purpose built car port. Why did he buy that caddie again? Was he trying to claw back something of his younger years or did he think that pink cadillacs were still a status symbol? Who knows.
So anyway, for my brother’s birthday, I made him a small artwork of the house in North Platte, making sure to put the emphasis on the car parked beside the house. I’m sure that not everything that happened with that car were as golden and sweet as I would like to think. Families being families, I’m sure at several points there were threats to pull over to the side of the road if someone didn’t stop picking on someone else.