Best Seat in the House

Best Seat in the House

Did you ever spot something on the street you’ve never seen before and completely ‘get it?’ Walking along the Collingswood Classic Car Car Show which was part 20140524_092750of the mile-long “36th Annual May Fair” in Collingswood on Memorial Day weekend led me to a mint condition, 1967 Cadillac DeVille owned by Joe Carbone of Medford, NJ. My first thought was, “This is a Sunday-go-to-church car.” I could picture an elderly woman wearing her flowered dress with perfect strand of pearls, a pillbox hat and white gloves driving this car to church. Turns out, I wasn’t far off.

Joe Carbone and I started chatting when I told him my thought on his 20140524_092852beautiful car. I’ve never been attracted to a Cadillac of any year or vintage, but something drew me to talk to Joe. When I told him my first thought on the car. He told me I was almost exactly right. Turns out a man owned the car for 14 years and he only took the car out on Sundays – if the weather was just right. Joe went on to explain how the perfect vinyl roof on the Caddy stayed in perfect condition through the years because the car of course, was garage-kept. The owner event kept a cotton cover on the car.

Joe also told me about how the owner felt the car was “the best seat in the house.” He would drink his cup of coffee in that vehicle – still parked in the garage – every Sunday morning. When his wife went looking for her husband on Sunday mornings, she would open the kitchen door to the garage and there he was, enjoying his quiet-time with this Cadillac.

As we listened to Joe’s stories, he allowed me to sit in the driver’s seat. If you have ever been to a car show you learn quickly the mantra is “Look but don’t touch.” To be permitted to sit in the vehicle is truly an honor. The thin steering wheel, AM/FM radio with push-buttons, power windows and air conditioning were certainly signs of a luxurious car in 1967.

Joe Carbone went on to to show us20140524_093050 the massive trunk of the car and explain how the spare tire is original and he found the trunk just as we saw it on this day in Collingswood. Joe had to install an electric garage-door opener after purchasing the car 12 years ago since there wasn’t enough garage length for both the car and Joe when pulling the door down.

Joe purchased the car from the original owner’s widow. You can only imagine how selling her husband’s prized possession must have been an emotional decision. Joe explained that the woman’s mailman – yes, the mailman – told her 12 years ago that the car was worth about $14,000. Joe gave her $8500 cash and this prized car has been in Joe’s possession ever since.

Joe appreciated that my husband and I admired the car so much. Actually, it’s 20140524_095644not the Caddy – but the stories behind the car. The vehicle today is Joe’s “best seat in the house;” though Joe quipped that his wife told him, “You’re not going to sit in that car and have coffee on Sundays.” Joe Carbone is happy keeping the Caddy in mint condition and owning the memories of Sundays past.

Finding My Rudder

Finding My Rudder

A major event that I produced is now past. Everything went well; the event was well received; kudos’ were exchanged and I move forward. Except I need to adjust myself.

It’s been just over six Imagemonths since Dad died; nine months since his surgery and about a year since he found out the cancer was back. Grief is an unknown for most people. We do not know how we’ll deal with the sadness and loss. For me, every day brings a moment of memory. Some days are better than others. Tears flow now as I write this.

My amazing cohort in the planning of the major event that just passed spent some time on the phone with me advising me that basically, I need an attitude adjustment. During the stressful weeks leading to the event, some of my actions and reactions were off the charts; we all have intense moments. What she described to me gave me extreme pause and the knowledge that I have been rudderless.

My new normal is without dad. Baseball season reminds me of that every day. He was who I talked with about the Phillies’ pitching; a great Chase Utley play to first and whether Ryan Howard can make it through the season without major injury. The day before the event, we orchestrated a photo-op at a school. To take the aerial photograph above the scene created by children, Ladder 24 came to the scene. The firefighters assisted me into the bucket of the extension ladder and from 90 feet above, I snapped the shots.

Dad was a retired firefighter. Ladder 24 is the last fire truck he stood in front of in May 2013. My mom, dad, husband and son were Imagedriving back from a Sunday lunch and I knew we needed to stop at the firehouse. The firefighters on duty knew me and welcomed us into the house for a short and meaningful visit. Dad was in his element; talking about firefighting days, sharing stories with the men on duty. The photo I have of mom and dad at the firehouse that day and in front of Ladder 24 mean a lot – especially now.

My son was grateful to see his Pop-Pop in his element; the camaraderie of a firehouse is like family. I grew up knowing this. Dad’s easy-going, happy ways made him always popular among his colleagues. That is why I have felt rudderless. I know I’m turning the corner; I feel as though if I could just talk with him for a minute, I’d get my bearings again.

Time will pass; I will make the needed adjustments in my attitude; I’ll breathe and wait while situations play out. Dad would want me to do that. I can hear him now.