The Mashburns had the best car ever. As a kid, I envied them.
In the mid 60’s, we lived in Liverpool, New York, a suburb of Syracuse. I was in the third grade.
It was a rather idyllic time for my family…at first. My mother gave birth to my baby sister and had terrible complications. But before that, all was well in my little world.
I rode my bike to school, played with my teacher’s baby turtles, caught June bugs, went sledding during recess, and rode bikes with friends all through the summer. I also learned my first curse word, said it in front of dad, and got the spanking of a lifetime. I didn’t even know what the word meant.
Dad was pastoring a small church nearby, and the Mashburn family made up a portion of the membership. Most of the congregation were displaced southerners…they had moved from the south to the north to work in factories. They were a sad, homesick bunch of people and almost cried when my Georgia born father became their missionary pastor and they heard his accent. Once my dad had a choir from North Augusta Baptist Church come up to put on a concert. When they sang “I wish I was in Dixie”, a lot of hankies were passed around. I heard sobbing.
Mr. and Mrs. Mashburn had two young sons, one a year old than me, and one a year younger. I spent a lot of time despising those boys one week and being in love with them the next week.
Mr. Mashburn was a dairy farmer and owned a large farm with accompanying house and barns. I knew nothing of the great outdoors, having spent the last few years in Buffalo, New York. So I was rather scared to death of those cows and stayed on my side of the fence when we visited their home. No amount of coaxing, bullying or name calling from the Mashburn brothers could convince me to hop the fence and pet the cows.
I also knew nothing about finances back then, just that the Mashburn family seemed to have more money than we did because they had that glorious car.
What a car!
It was a huge, yellow, paneled station wagon, and it truly was a piece of auto industry ingenuity. The size of a small submarine, it had seats everywhere. But my favorite part was the back end.
There was a large window at the back that you could roll down (by hand, of course). The window was attached to a large door that had a side latch. When the rear door was opened, there was a flat, carpet covered area that fooled you into thinking there was nothing underneath. But when the carpeted panels were lifted, behold! There were seats there! Sitting on the bench seat, you could look out of the rear window. Behind that seat were two more seats that faced each other. I loved that car.
Whenever the church went on any special picnics or trips, I begged to ride with the Mashburns, and pushed and shoved my way to the awesome back seat. Everyone was rather good natured about it, and I think Mr. Mashburn got a kick out of how much I adored his station wagon. Until…the disaster.
One day Mr. Mashburn took the church children on an outing, and on the way back, he stopped to buy us sodas. It was hot outside, and we sincerely appreciated the gesture to help us cool off.
Sitting on the rear seat, facing the station wagon window that we had rolled down, I slurped my orange soda thinking that life couldn’t get any better than this.
After a while I realized that my belly couldn’t hold another drop of soda, and I really didn’t want to hold a half full soda all the way home. So I did what I THOUGHT would be the next best thing. I poured the drink out of the rear window.
The result was immediate and traumatic.
In addition to knowing nothing of the great outdoors nor finances in the third grade, I also knew nothing about aerodynamics, wind velocity, or what would happen when you poured an orange soda out of the rear window of a station wagon.
I found out.
Immediately, the soda flew right back in the window, splashing all the children (me included), the leather upholstery, and the felt roof with sticky orange drink. Kids started screaming.
Orange was everywhere.
Later, dear Mr. Mashburn was accepting of my apology as I stood there with orange drink dotting my face, hair and clothes, and watching it drip off his sons’ hair.
He was really nice about the ruined upholstery, though I think I heard him whimper a time or two.
But I learned a lot that day.
Kids will be kids, teach your children about the damage wind flowing through a car can do, forgive stupid kids who make stupid mistakes, and NEVER throw drink out of a moving car window.
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