Car shows bring back memories, even if they arent my own

First Posted: 9/19/2009

Mount Airy seems to be on its way to becoming auto club central, with so many different car and motorcycle clubs choosing the city and Surry County as a location for holding their gatherings.
I must admit to having somewhat of a love-hate relationship with automobiles. I dont like having to stop every few days and empty out my wallet to pour gasoline into the seemingly never satisfied hunger my car has. I detest having to buy new tires, getting repairs done and that sort of thing. And the thought of just how much if youll pardon my use of a clichd term of a carbon footprint my family is leaving with its vehicular usage almost makes me ill.
But man, there are some cars, or motorcycles, that just command ones attention. A few weeks back the Harley Owners Group was in town, and I have to say when the motorcyclists came roaring through town for a parade, those of us still in the newsroom stopped working, stepped outside and watched. The roar of those engines, the look of the choppers was just too much not to take a few minutes to enjoy.
This past week the city hosted the Buick Enthusiasts Club. When I think of enthusiast, or an auto club, I have visions of old hot rods, or classics, or little sports cars like the MGB I once owned.
But a Buick?
Hey, like any other auto, they have their fans. It seems for all of my life my dad has either had a Buick or openly admired them, and I have to admit to some enthusiasm myself after recently getting a small Buick (if there is such a thing) from my Dad after he moved to a newer car. What Im most loving about it is that its 10 years newer than my other car, and it gets about 33 percent better gas mileage, so I may soon become a bit of a Buick enthusiast myself.
If you really want to see some sweet cars, though, you should check out Pilot Mountains Hot Nights Hot Cars Cruise-Ins (the next one is set for Oct. 3). There you get to see some truly classic autos from virtually every era of car manufacturing, with particular emphasis, it seems, on those from the 50s and 60s.
I know those cars are gas guzzlers, with big monstrous engines that spew great amounts of pollution, and Im well aware those cars werent nearly as safe for their occupants as todays cars. Still, some consider that the golden age of the auto industry in America. Those cars have character.
Although those were largely before my time, I still cant help but think of sock hops and curbside hamburger service, leather jackets and black-and-white television, a time of great change and a sort of national innocence, when I walk among those autos.
When I see even older vehicles those made in the 1930s and 1940s, I recall stories my dad often told of his first vehicles, of the cars he learned to drive as a teen, which always lead to other stories about that time in his life.
I dont know, but for me automobiles are more representative of different times over the past century of America than just about anything else. Dont believe me? Next time theres a cruise-in locally, or a car show of some sort, make a point to visit, and see if memories and images from the past dont start rolling inside your head.
John Peters is editor of The Mount Airy News. The closest hes ever come to owning a classic car is when his parents bought a Matchbox 1957 Chevy when he was a child. He can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1931.

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