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.
Category: People who Meet Patty Wagon
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.
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.
From Downtown New Haven to City Point, real people share enthusiasm and memories of their VW experiences. Mark, a former student from the days I was a teacher, is now working at Shell & Bones, yet more importantly, is a proud dad to an amazing son. Ironically, as he was having his picture taken by the patty wagon, my sister Lisa stepped out the City Point Kitchen and introduced herself to Mark’s son; she would be his teacher in two years when he gets to middle school. Embracing the two degrees of separation, it’s not six. My neighbor, John Williams, a criminal defense attorney in New Haven for 5 decades, yes 5, was eager to share his memories of his days at Harvard in the 1960’s and his trips to DC in a VW camper bus. John was instrumental in the Black Panther trials in New Haven in the late 60’s. Quite a memorable way to start a law career. Patrick is a guy I randomly met while dropping a friend off at the New Haven Train Station. He was taking a photo of the patty wagon, like many do, and shared his 1960’s VW memories that involved his dad and older brother. After lunch at Shell and Bones, my dear friend Margreth, who was visiting from CA, and her two friends, David Freeman, and his wife Sylvia, were excited to see the PW. David, a the former CEO of Loctite, shared over lunch that he was following my blog; very humbling; and now he is a part of its journey. smile!
Growing up in the 1970’s would bring every teenager in New Haven County to the Rubber Match on Dixwell Avenue. It opened in 1973 as the local head hippy shop, and still exists today with John the original owner. John was blown away by the memories that ran through his head about VW campers when he saw mine parked in front. PS I only bought some peace sign stickers. As I sat on the bench at CPK, I observed three people looking at the patty wagon. I announced myself as the proud owner. Dolly, now my new best friend, ran up and hugged me. Two complete strangers serendipitously captured in a moment in time by a vehicle. Her daughter and son in law were observing this interaction like it was a spiritual experience. Well, it was. Dolly could not contain her enthusiasm as she shared how she was at St Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury yesterday and in the room was a VW calendar; one looked exactly like mine. She silently thought she would love to see this camper. And voila, the next day she is in New Haven and parked next to patty wagon. You can see why she is hugging the PW. It was a divine intervention. John (yes another John) is a cool contemporary hippy chiropractor in New Haven. He cracked my neck a few times. Thanks John. New Haven Attorney Joe Rini and Attorney Annie Levitt from West Haven give peace signs at the PW. Where did all these attorneys come from? Smile. And the brother I never had, Brian, an amazing drummer of the Panacea Brothers, shares a PW moment.
Lastly, IKEA, enough said; ask Michelle (inside joke). If you visit New Haven and have a VW story, track me down; be a part of the adventure. Join the journey. www.pattywagonadventures.com
Paraphrasing a line in the movie, Field of Dreams, “Build it and he/they will come,” this VW patty wagon is all that.
Happy, enthusiastic, genuine people are drawn to this VW as it evokes so many memories, or simply, curiosity. Spending much of my weekend next door at City Point Kitchen, a quaint New Haven Restaurant next to Shell & Bones on the New Haven Harbor, is such a perfect spot to meet interesting people. C’mon down. Over one weekend, Patty Wagon met siblings from Venezuela on a bike tour along the water. They saw the VW and were taking photos as my 90 year old friend Tom, played his ukulele. At the picnic bench were three visitors speaking German. They were on their way from Boston to NYC and stopped at the half way point, New Haven, for breakfast. They were eager to see the VW Westfalia and were proud it is German vehicle. Such an interesting trio. Auf wiedersehen meine Freunde. The following day, Tim was at the same outdoor picnic bench reading a book in German. This piqued my interest; we chatted. I would not have known Tim was, not only my condo neighbor, but a VW enthusiast with a story about his parents owning one, if a conversation wasn’t initiated. Tim’s parents bought one in Germany from the fire department; go figure. Thanks Tim. Another happy camper, Ben from England, was eager to share his feelings about being a 14 year old boy in England and wanting one of these VW’s as he observed car shows in Waterloo, London. Thanks Ben.
The more seasoned I become the more I realize the big moments in life are really the little moments. Introduce yourself, start a conversation, meet your neighbor. Peace on.
Followers of this blog may recall that Random Act of Generous Emotion kindness act when Patty Wagon delivered a misplaced package to the proper address and Tom Ahern answered the door. Well this is a continuation of the adventure that has developed from that day, all stemming from a random moment; a new relationship was found. Tom’s journey, from sharing his history in the 1940’s at City Point (formerly called Oyster Point)in New Haven, to his present encounters with the patty wagon, will carry on. Tom turned 90 a few weeks ago. If we pay attention to our “seniors,” we may learn so many lessons from their tenacity. Anyone who has lived through the Depression, WW2, and the Cold War, is built to last. Listen to their journey. More to follow on Tom.
VW Patty Wagon brings a smile to the faces of many New Haven people. From family and friends, such as Richard and Janice, Beth, Michelle and Zoe (the dog version), Natasha, and niece Leah, to Pequannock Yacht Club members, to random folks PW runs into like the peace T-shirt guy happens to be Vinnie Penn from WELI and author, to business owners like as Bruce and Cathy of Café Java, Tony and his wife Anna of the Greek Olive, Vincent Ferrucci, of Ferrucci Men’s Clothing, to the world famous chef Franco from Shell and Bones, and former owner of Sage, David McCoart, now consulting chef for Gateway Community College Foundation, to City Point Kitchen’s Jeff and my sister Lisa, former New Haven Mayor, John DeStefano, Jr., and some yoga buddies Delia and her husband Marty, along with Fred, who at 73 and does yoga almost daily; I tell him he looks like Steve Harvey! More to follow in part 2.
So July 4, 2018, Patty Wagon was relaxing at her New Haven Harbour condo pool when her sister Lynne shows ups to join for a burger and a beer. Totally random, she invited PW to a picnic at Chief Alston’s with other folks who work for the City of New Haven. In true form, PW is a welcome addition to any venue as memories flow. Chief John Alston, who had two fires to deal with that day, was like a kid bursting with firework flashbacks of memories as an 11 year old. It did my heart good to see the enthusiasm in his eyes after doing his part to make New Haven a safer place to live. Patty Wagon is so much more than a vehicle to transport; it is a vehicle to transform! Let’s foster opportunities to hear about people’s background and make connections. Look for the common ground out there folks. If we take the time to listen to each other, we may open our minds and our hearts. Moments like this; priceless.