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Monday, July 30, 2012

Benny Bel-Aire: My First Car

Did my father suspect I was about to lay some huge request on him when I sat on the arm of the recliner in which he was stretched out? Perhaps, his interest was peaked but, when I threw my arms around his neck, he raised both eyebrows. “Hmmm? What could this mean for dear old Dad?”

“Awe, Daddy, what ever would make you think it meant anything more than I am so happy to see you?” He expressed the reaction I had expected… one hearty laugh but hugged me back anyway.

“Oh, I dunno, maybe a couple of decades of living with three girls and a wife? Hugs and kisses can be the precursor to a serious request of my wallet.” Pushing back to look directly into his face, I saw his big grin and slight tilt of his head. I straightened up and slipped to the low footstool next to the recliner.

“Well, you’re right this time, Daddy. But, I am very glad to see you; I missed home so much this year away.” Mom and Dad had come to help me move out of the dormitory. My things would be stored at the home of my older sister’s in-laws during the summer months. The couple was personal friends of my parents and it was in their home we were spending the night before heading the 386 miles back home.

“So, what’s this all about? Can’t wait ‘til we get home, huh?” Of course, it could have if I weren’t just bursting my seams to ask. I’d waited for weeks already since my friend and I came up with our brilliant summer plans. Not something to ask over the phone, I figured.  Clearing my throat, I sat erect and began my practiced discourse.

“Uh, well, Joyce and I want to go to Spokane to work for the summer, Daddy. I wrote to you and Mom that Uncle Glen and Aunt Mary agreed to let us live with them so it would be safe and all for us to go to Spokane, remember?” He smiled and nodded down at me. Taking that as encouragement, I continued with my well-rehearsed, rapid-fire justification for a vehicle. “Of course, Uncle Glen lives kinda far out so I’m figuring I’ll need a car to get to work. Plus, Joyce and I would want to help Aunt Mary with grocery shopping and things on our days off and, then, there are weekends when we don’t have to work… George and Jean have asked us to come out to the lake whenever we can. Plus, I’d want to come home for a little while before school starts again and that would mean you driving way more than 500 miles to come get me. It would be more convenient for you to not have to make that trip, right” Fortunately, Dad didn’t interrupt my speeding flow to remind me that the Greyhound Bus makes that trip more than once a day so I kept going. “I’m 19 now, Daddy, and have never had a single traffic ticket in all the years since you taught me to drive.” Again, I was glad that he had not mentioned that was only four years, the last of which was spent away at school, so not all that long to rest on an impressive record, really. “Oh, Daddy, I’ll be so careful and I’ll pay you back, really I will.”

“Well, I’ll need to talk with your mother about this, but I’m thinking you might be needing a car if you’re going to work in Spokane.” Jumping up with a squeal of delight, I wrapped my arms around his neck and squeezed while plopping a big kiss right on his cheek.

“Oh, Daddy, you won’t be sorry you trusted me. I’ll do everything you taught me to take care of the car and I’ll never drive faster than the speed limit or be careless.” He returned my hug and reminded me that Mom had the final word. No problem. I’d been getting what I wanted from her for years by telling her it was okay with Daddy if it was okay with her. Sometimes, I had actually asked him for permission first. She wouldn’t say no if he thought it was a good idea; I was certain of that.

After a bit of time at home, Daddy and I began to search the want ads in earnest for a used car for me. There were some really junky cars out there, sadly. At last, a perfect fit was discovered and Daddy signed on the dotted line. My precious car was a 1956 Chevy Bel-Aire. It was turquoise and white, had two doors and a working radio. The steering wheel was huge and the bench seat comfortable, with plenty of room in the backseat for baggage or friends. A nice sized trunk, too, for those groceries or lakeshore equipment needs. Okay, it was 12 years old, but I would baby it and it would be just fine. I named him, Benny Bel-Aire.

I so loved my Benny; he served my transportation needs well. I had no idea just how the Lord had planned to use Benny to teach me, and my parents, the truth that God is always with me. His watchful eyes were, certainly, there when the crisis came!

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