Spending time with my three sisters will always be one of life’s simplest, yet greatest pleasures. Add my mother to the scene, and we create our own lifetime show. Reliving memories over and over and never getting tired of them, starting with, “Do you guys remember…” “No I don’t remember this one”…wink wink, even though its been told 25 times, yet we share, we listen, we genuinely laugh as it were the first time. Sometimes we laugh so hard tears run down our legs, smile. Priceless. Puberty stories such as “Aim towards your rear end Patty,” will be forever be imbedded in my mind on my journey towards womanhood as I was being coached from outside the bathroom, by my mother and aunt, on how to use a tampon for the first time; all so I could join my three sisters swimming. Add some good wine to the conversation and the guffaws amplify. Exiting the bathroom walking like I just got off a horse made me dread the next 35 years; clearly I didn’t aim properly. Then Lisa chimes in with her tampon story…..”how does this work anyhow?” We all roared laughing at the line, she used it like a pad. Through the years we continue to create priceless memories individually, and collectively as sisters, especially as we navigate into our silver years. Now facing our 60’s, with Carolyn, the youngest, holding out at 59, twins Lynn and Lisa at 60, and me at 61, is the decision to go gray and stop dying our hair. This pattywagonadventure, though simple, captures the essence of what it is like spending time with my amazing sisters and mother…truly blessed. Oh…and you have yet to hear about my sisters kids and grandkids. Beyond priceless.
Patty Wagon Adventures Posts
WOODSTOCK! A name not only representing a defining moment in music history, but a defining moment in American history. As an 11 year old, I was unaware of the moments that will forever have Americans noting 1969 as a transitional journey towards social and political change. While I was climbing “the rock” on Johnson Street and watching Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show, I was peripherally involved in these topics as I recalled adults talking with extreme passion and concern. It was a time when America was in turmoil, torn between war, peace, countercultures, and human rights. The topics ranged from civil rights, Martin Luther King Jrs memory, Racial Riots, Sam “The Falcon” Wilson in Marvel Comics breaks racial barriers, Stonewall Rebellion in NYC, gay rights, peace sit-ins, John Lennon and Yoko Ono stage a bed-in for peace, Give Peace a Chance, Vietnam War protests, Chicago Eight trial, assassinations, Sirhan Sirhan death penalty for RFK, Midnight Cowboys X rating, Beatles last public performance, Tinker vs Des Moines School District, Man on the Moon, Chappaquiddick, Rocky Marciano dies, Ho Chi Minh dies, Charles Manson/Sharon Tate, Michael Jackson on Ed Sullivan Show, and then there was Woodstock. Now I knew my cool Uncle Chip, the uncle in a band with long hair and ripped jeans in the 1960’s, who practiced in my Nana and Papa’s basement, and who gave me my first ever album, Paul McCartney and Wings in 1970, went to Woodstock, but I never really talked with him about his experience, until I went to Woodstock at 50 this August of 2019, at the original site in Bethel, NY. “Going Down to Yasgur’s Farm” on route 17B “Back to the Garden” in my 1974 VW camper feeling the vibe of what it must have been like for him, and the other 400,000 teenagers, 50 years ago; priceless. Peace On.
Let your sham rock! With Yale University as the backdrop for the New Haven Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, Patty Wagon could not have felt more nostalgic. Yes Yale’s been around since 1701 and Patty Wagon only since 1974, but nonetheless, nostalgic. Sporting a sea-foam green exterior complemented by an Irish plaid interior, a shamrock on the VW emblem greeting the parade goers, add some some dangling shamrocks lighting up the front and rear windshields, and throw in a ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish’ flag along her side, and she’s parade ready. Being a classic VW camper, the addition of a grateful dead skeleton on top wearing a tie-dye shirt (thank you Thimble Island Brewery), a green bandana, and holding a blowup guitar, had to send flashbacks to our Woodstock survivors. And, no parade is complete without the enthusiasm of those marching in the entourage. Originally, an eager list of 25 marchers donning hippy or disco fever attire, quickly drizzled down, pun intended, to four, due to the weather, with the only unconditional commitment from my 80-year-old mother in the company of her O’buddy leprechaun who, as Attorney Dillon wisely stated, has an amazing social life hanging out with Judy O’Larkin. Creedence Clearwater tunes belted out the camper as we sauntered down Chapel Street with four dedicated neighbors marching along side in the cold rain. Through the cacophony of the parade a voice can be heard screaming down Chapel “Here comes the patty wagon;” as I spy my sister Lynne with enough enthusiasm to fill Giant Stadium. As she quickly grabbed a blowup guitar from the pile of parade parafinalia, Patty Wagon had a smirk knowing this was a party all by itself! And whether there were two people on the parade sidelines or the Channel 8 TV cameras, the enthusiasm was the same, all sister triggered; priceless. Attorney Dillon must’ve been smiling as he saw O’ Buddy once again, with another public appearance; this time on TV. Patty Wagon is already making plans for what she’s going to wear in 2020. Who’s in? Join the peace train!
The adventures of the patty wagon is more about the adventures of real people. One doesn’t have to go far to have an adventure; simply check in with your neighbors. This 1974 VW camper attracts the adventure, which leads to stories worth sharing so we may, should we choose, live vicariously through others journeys. The backdrop of this adventure is in a little Norman Rockwell section of New Haven called City Point; it is magical. Yes, New Haven is the Pizza Capital with Sally’s, Pepe’s, Wooster Street, and Modern Pizza, all worth a visit, along with Yale, however, one should also venture to the New Haven Harbor. The summer of 2018, neighbors, Tom Ahern, 90 years old, 87-year-old Joe Weber and Dan Moore, all shared their memories of growing up at City Point at a community chat held at City Point Kitchen. The conversation was priceless. Collectively, one could sense a common thought, the simple times were the best of times, and having little money led to creativity. These men eagerly shared what life was like at a time before I 95 was erected. For that moment, we were all transcended back to life in the 40s and 50s at City Point, where doors did not have to be locked and kids were playing with a baseball they made out of elastic bands, all having the time of their life. As a society, we should probably embrace our elderly neighbors more, they have a lot to say. Wholeheartedly, we could all benefit from hearing what is really valuable. Upon leaving the history chat, Joe Weber was again brought back in time to 1964, when he saw the VW camper patty wagon outside of city point kitchen. Who knew this amazing 87-year-old man had chronicled his journey across the USA of his 1964 camping trip in a VW camper with his wife and four children, all written for the New Haven Register. Shortly after Joe shared a snapshot of his story on that summer day in August 2018, his son Michael, while enjoying his eggs over easy with rye toast at City Point Kitchen, introduced himself as Joe Weber’s son. The world goes full circle if you pay attention. Michael passionately shared his memories of that summer journey and later produced copies of the articles written for the New Haven register in 1964. As a boomer, I was six years old when the Weber family took this summer journey. Joe Weber was a teacher with four children and had summers off, my father, also a teacher with four children and summers off. Can’t help smiling while embracing the parallel and warms my heart with the vision of my parents reading these articles in 1964. And here we are; another patty wagon adventure.
Driving through New Haven with my 90-year-old friend Tom out to see the New Haven Christmas Tree brought us to Yorkside Pizza for a bite. While parked across the street, little did I know a family, also doing the same holiday spirit run in a 1970 VW bus, was eager to meet the patty wagon. Determined, they drove around the block four times hoping our paths would cross. As I drive down the street after having a slice of pizza and Tom had a bowl of soup, I look ahead shrieking with excitement as I gazed ahead at this camper decorated with the old fashion big lightbulbs pulled off to the side of the road; it was like a mirage. My visceral reaction highlighted to me how others respond when they see my camper; it truly brings out the best in people. Meeting Eric, his wife Valerie and their son Ethan, brought out the best in me that night. Earlier in the day friends and neighbors at City Point joined in on the excitement in the holiday decorated patty wagon. Jonathan, Michael, Daniel, Garrett, Doug, Kelley, Lisa and Jim, all embracing the spirit of the holiday season.
Embracing the season with some holiday cheer generated by a decorated 1974 VW camper, coupled with enthusiastic customers at City Point Kitchen in New Haven, CT. Three people, three parts of the world, and a common denominator, the VW camper. These fine people were transported back to Pakistan, Italy, and 1965 in New Haven, simply by seeing the VW Patty wagon. The best gift we can give each other is our time, compassion, and respect. Tis the season; Happy Holidays.
It’s the law of attraction happening as in The Secret, along with Kevin Costner’s movie line, build it and they will come. The secret to connecting with like-minded people is to be the person you want to attract. The passion continues with random people approaching this camper and sharing their life experiences and enthusiasm involving classic VW memories. I do not even need to search for folks, I simply park patty wagon, sit back, and I’m approached; it’s a beautiful thing! More people need to start coming with me on this journey. Be prepared, because to wholeheartedly embrace the experience, you must be a shining light, you must truly seek the goodness in people, and you must be willing to embellish their enthusiasm as they try to catch their breath sharing their story. Buckle Up! Journey On, Peace On.
At a time when the country feels so politically divided, borderline hostile, the panacea was a trip in the classic VW Patty wagon to Maine to be with my youngest sister, my niece, and her sons; the perfect adventure for Columbus Day weekend. Typically a 3.5 hour trip ended up as a 5 hour trip, and that was sooooo ok. In this vehicle it really is about the journey almost more than, or in this case, just as valuable, as the destination. The first stop for gas brought an enthusiastic employee running outside with a real camera asking permission to photograph. Patty Wagon commands the paparazzi; its part of being in a league of her own, smile. VW campers are so much more than a cool car, they are a reminder of how life was and how life should be. My sister Carolyn works at the Portland Regency PW had to make an appearance in Portland; it is also classic. Barely exiting the VW when a baby boomer guy approached me eager to share his VW memories as a kid living in a camper in Germany with his family; his dad was in the Navy serving in Germany. Another couple from South Carolina approached the camper with the same eagerness; its a common denominator to us owners. They shared their 1982 VW stories; that’s our high. And if the VW camper high wasn’t enough, being with my sister, her husband Mike, my niece Nicolle, and holding and playing my great nephews, Harrison and Roman, made the fall leaves feel even brighter. Priceless!
As a baby boomer from 1958, I am wholeheartedly embracing this new chapter of the Patty Wagon Adventures life. Who would think I would end up going to classic car shows; not me. Yet, here I am, letting the journey be my guide. I work for a non-profit in New Haven. My job as the CCP Director of Mentoring involves recruiting volunteer mentors to work with kids, ages 10-21, in foster care and/or on probation. Attending a meeting at Klingberg in New Britain, also a program for youth, brought me face to face with a poster in the lobby about the Klingberg Classic Car Show in a few days. As I entered the meeting I was joking with my colleagues how everyone kept telling me I need to meet Wayne Carini, that he is right here in Portland, CT and HE is THE CLASSIC CAR GUY to meet. And now a poster with his name; universe and kismet factor. With tongue in cheek, I proclaimed that my goal was to get a photo with Wayne Carini by my VW patty wagon for my blog. With Lucille Ball being my MO, all smiled and knew I would somehow achieve my spirited goal. As I entered the parking lot and observed the 1908 Rolls Royce, the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Wooden Station Wagons from the 30 and 40’s, with humility and humor, I stated to the man taking my $10 entrance fee, “I think I am out of my league here.” With smiles and reassurance, I was directed to the area with the other wagons. Ironically, there was always a crowd around the VW camper. Young families were especially drawn to it as they envisioned themselves having quality family time together. Families asked if they could sit in it; I let kids climb on the upper loft bed with the top popped. COOL! The echoes of kids begging their parents to buy one was refreshing. Two hours later a gentleman approached me stating I won one of the car awards. In disbelief, thinking he was joking, he explained they allowed kids (since Klingberg is a kids organization) to select their favorite; hands down it was VW patty wagon. I can still hear the words, “Patty, pull your camper behind the Ferrari; we are lining the winners up in a row.” Smile. Not only did Wayne Carini, from Chasing Classic Cars TV Show, hand me the award, Mike Brewer from England’s TV show, Wheeler Dealers, also was in the kodak moment. Goal “on steroids” achieved. While the overall winner was the $2,000,000 Rolls Royce from 1909 driven by Jerry Chase, as seen in this video, I can still feel his passion as he reminisced about his VW bus memories. So what really is value? His VW memories are priceless. My take away, never see yourself as less-than. Also Priceless. Carpe Diem.
Hearing random people enthusiastically share their moments about quality time with their family, in a VW camper, is priceless. People who have a history with VWs almost have difficulty catching their breath when they see a VW camper. It is like a kaleidoscope of memories are flooding their brain and heart; they are back in a time warp. Dave and Jane both had their own memories with VWs as they eagerly saw the patty wagon and ran over to share their experiences. Dave owned one in the 70’s as a teen and Jane as a kid in the 60’s with her a family. She can still recall the day her dad brought it home. And to boot, she was able to access a family photo from the 60’s in the VW bus. I guess technology has its place for that perk. Rick and his daughter Julie saw the patty wagon in downtown New Haven. This vehicle is one of those exceptions that when people are looking in the windows, its cool. Rick works for Yale and owned 3 VW Campers in his life. His daughter Julie was visiting from Boston and was also able to quickly access two of the three VW campers, one from her childhood and the one they presently own. Svenia and Zach are from Germany. They were involved with the kayaking event for the International Festival in New Haven, which landed them at City Point on the New Haven Harbor. They saw Patty wagon and immediately shared their story of family life with their kids and two large dogs. As parents, they realize the value in having kids put technology away and talk face to face, play games as a family, draw, and eat together. To find value and contentment is this tight space; priceless. Peace on.