My mom got her first driver’s license when she was 55 years old. My dad had passed away and she often found herself stranded with errands to do and places to go. She bought her first new car in 1984. It was a celery green Chevy Celebrity. She literally was the little old lady who drove to the grocery store and to church on Sunday.
Mom decided to give up driving when she was in her mid 80’s. Michael and I overheard Matt (her grandson) and his friends talking about the fact that Grandma drove 45 miles per hour. It didn’t matter if she was in town or on the highway. The boys said they would kiss the ground when they reached their destination.
We chatted with mom about this and she decided it was time to give up driving. The Celebrity was given to Matt by his grandma. I understand the average driver puts twelve to fifteen thousand miles on a vehicle each year. This vehicle, after 21 years of mom’s driving, had thirty-five thousand miles. Her average annual mileage was just under seventeen hundred miles.The engine was in great shape. The car had been well maintained. It had a great air conditioner and easily sat six.The body unfortunately, was not so great. The steel in 1984 had some defects and the car had holes and rust all along the base of the body.
Our family decided to move to Colorado in 2005. We took the car with us to Colorado. Matt begged me to drive the Chevy. He wanted to drive the family Bravada. Michael was flying out later. The funny part of the drive was that Matt had to stop twice as often for gas. The Celebrity got fabulous mileage and the air conditioner was a great asset over the long trip.
Matt attended a school called Peak to Peak for his final year in High School. The mascot for the school was the Puma and the school colors were royal blue and silver. Matt’s car was a great people hauler. With comfortable oversized seating, there was no shortage of fellow students asking for rides.
One night when Michael and I came home from work, Matt and his friends were waiting for us. They had bottles of spray paint and wanted our permission to paint the car in the school colors. Michael and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said “why not”.
Michael sent them to a vacant lot near a spec house that his company was building. They had been gone for about a half hour when Michael’s phone rang. “Mr Goodson, this is Officer Daniels with the Erie police department. Do you know what your son is doing?” Michael answered cautiously, not sure what the officer was getting at. He explained that he had given permission for the boys to paint Matt’s car. The officer was surprised and relieved and said they were doing a great and careful job. He said he thought he’d stay and help them finish the job if that was OK with us.
The next time we saw the car it had Puma Paws painted on the hood and gas cover. The top of the car was painted black and “Matt’s Machine” was painted on the back. The guys had used silver duct tape to repair the holes in the body of the car. It improved the car’s appearance as much as possible.
The kids would fight over riding shotgun. Every soccer game, the car was parked on the sidelines as the Puma mascot. The “Puma Mobile” would be given credit every time the Pumas won a game. I think Matt learned that a car doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to be useful and fun.
For graduation, Matt picked out a red Nissan Sentra with a 5-speed transmission. The Sentra was used and had low mileage. He advertised the Puma Mobile for sale and in just a few days he was offered almost $1,000 for his car. The new owner did not repaint it and enjoyed all the benefits of that low mileage engine.
Matt drove the Sentra through college and his first job. It worked out well but never carried the same nostalgia as the “Puma Mobile”.
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