I swear I am not a car person and yet, the sight of a line of vintage automobiles was enough to set my heart racing. I simply had to find out where they were coming from.
And that’s how I ended up at the North East Vintage Car show in Mosney, Co. Meath on Sunday.
Despite the eye-catching exodus, there were still plenty of old cars on view. And I basked in the wave of nostalagia that swiftly overwhelmed me as I wandered among the Morris Minors, Vauxwagens and Anglias.
Overhead the tannoy was belting out “She loves you, ya, ya, ya” as the crowds milled around in little clutches, chatting with other car enthusiasts or picnicking on rugs beside their vintage pride and joy.
I love the wooden trim on these old Morris Minors. Probably late 1960s. And definitely chic. Gotta love those wing mirrors. Makes me feel right back there at seven years of age sitting high up in the driver’s seat, little fists around the steering wheel, pretending to drive.
Mind you, when I was peering into this old Anglia, I wondered how on earth our family of eight squished into such a little space for our regular Sunday outings.
Of course, I would have known by then that there was a hierachy in car seating arrangements, just as there was in everything else.
Dad drove. Dads invariably drove back then, the better to leave the mother free to hold the baby in the front seat.
The second youngest in the family got to ride up front with baby, Mother and Dad. So he must have sat on the handbrake somehow. But I also have a clear memory of him also occupying the shelf underneath the rear window of either our Volkswagen or Morris Minor and amusing himself by running his finger along the condensation on the window.
And, with eight passengers in the car, there was always a lot of condensation.
The older two siblings had the best position in the passenger seat, beside the rear doors. And so, my sister and I were squished in the middle.
Of course, such overcrowding invariably led to rows.
It didn’t help that one brother couldn’t resist singing at the least provocation. Much to the chagrin of our older, more reserved brother.
Some things haven’t changed. One still sings, the other is more dutiful.
Likewise, I am sure the fact of my being squished in the middle of the Anglia trained me for life in being a pacifist. I neither sang nor complained but learned instead how to sleep in the most uncomfortable of positions. A skill and a cop-out which serves me well to this day.
This skill also proved especially useful when our mother, overwhelmed by yet another drive by the bishops of the day, took it upon herself to induct us all again in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. The predictable rise and fall of the Hail Marys and Our Fathers had a somnonbulent effect at the best of times. There was no reason to stay awake.
Perhaps the prayers were intended though, for a safe journey or even a very pleasant picnic.In which case, it was very understandable that Mother took to prayer because both events were, in themselves minor miracles.
In the 1960s Ireland had more road deaths per capita than ever before or since. Much though I love the look of the stand alone headlights, or simple indicators, they were inadequate on bad country roads which were already dealing with a steady increase in traffic.
And yet, the cars of the past, with all that polished chrome and sleek radiator grilles, seem far more attractive to my eye than those of today.
It’s no wonder that some talented folk are simply itching to paint them.
Cars and picnics went hand in hand, of course, particularly in summer. We were invariably heading for the beach then, in any case. After almost two hours in the car, and a quick baptism in the foaming Atlantic, we were ready for the picnic which Mother miraculously conjured up, along with the picnic rug, cups, cutlery and other picnic paraphenalia.
Red lemonade and ham sandwiches were the staples of this feast, but, in addition there was tea or cocoa from thermos flasks and slabs of porter cake to quench whatever appetites we had left. The sea air made everything seem all the more exotic and delicious.
We travelled all over in those cars, winding our way along the wild west coast of Clare and further along the Kerry peninsulas and at her first glimpse of sea Mother would invariably start singing
“The sea oh the sea, grá gheal mo chroí, long may it lie between England and me. `Tis a sure guarantee that some day we’ll be free. Thank God we’re surrounded by water”
I hasten to add that Mother was not an ardent nationalist. Just a landlubber who was thrilled at the sight of the wild Atlantic, much as I am today.
Evocative as they are of all those childhood pleasures, it’s little wonder that the 1960s cars are my favourite.
…with the Morris Minors taking second place to the Anglia in my hit list of preferences.
But, although a little before my time, I loved this Ford Model T too. Oh, I can just see it ferrying some of my heroines up to Downton Abbey.
Or whisking the local physician to his housebound patients.
And this Austin certainly has a lot of class about it too.Now, in case you’re wondering, I did not use my vintage car perambulations as an excuse to slack off from my Juneathon duties. A six mile run earlier in the day, kept my Juneathon schedule up to date on the jogging front. And yesterday, I fulfilled my cross training duty with a little light yoga.
Admittedly, missing yesterday’s post deadline though, makes me a slacker on the blog post front.
I can only hope that this drive back through time will buy me a little forgiveness.