Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hippies Welcome!

VW HippiesSo, I was driving out of Charlotte yesterday having made a major dent in my Christmas shopping when my eye caught this sign in a VW dealer's window. It was so good I turned around and took this photo. Cute you think, Hippies Welcome, but worth turning around on busy Independence Avenue? There must be a story, you think.......correctly.

It was late spring 1971 and I wanted a VW bus, wanted one bad. So one Saturday afternoon I walked into the VW dealer in Danville, Virginia and saw a yellow and white bus on the showroom floor. No salesman was in sight, the place was empty. So I walked around until I found a guy sitting at a desk. I asked if the Bus on the floor was for sale; he said yes. I told him I would take it and I asked him to get some final sales numbers together so I could go to the bank and get a check. He just stared. Finally something snapped, and he went into car salesman mode. He said he would be happy to get a sales price for me. In about 15 minutes I was on my way back to Mecklenburg County, paperwork in hand. I had not even opened the door to my new car.

Midweek I called him, told him I had the check, and would be back on Saturday to settle up with him. He seemed a bit surprised. Yes, he said, they would have it ready.1971 VW bus

Saturday my wife and I drove to pick up the bus. After signing all the papers I asked if he would mind riding with us around town a bit, I had never driven a VW before. That gave him more pause. Sure, he said, sounding a bit uncertain.

You must remember this was 1971 and my wife and I probably looked a awful lot like those hippies he had heard about. So he rode shotgun and I slipped behind the wheel for a quick tour of Danville. He alternated between pointing out the vehicle's features, and just... looking at us. Finally he asked, "You aren't going to paint flowers on the side, are you?" My wife and I had long since picked up on his vibes, and I suppose we could have had some fun at his expense. But we didn't. Trying to maintain a straight face we almost said in unison, "Oh no, we wouldn't do anything like that." He relaxed a bit. Then it could have been me, but I think it was my wife who said softly, "Curtains might be nice."

We dropped him off and I kept that bus for almost 25 years. Sure, the last 10 or so I didn't drive it much, but I just could not let it go. Great memories, wonderful memories.

So, ex-wife? True story, or what?

And no, the picture above is not THE bus, but it is a dead ringer. Stole it off the internet. I fear most of the photos I do have of that particular bus could be used as evidence.

So here is to Volkswagen of America and times that change.

Or not. During the 5 minutes or so I was on the premises no salesman approached me. Not after I made a big production of taking a picture of the front of their building. Not after I walked about looking at the new cars. Maybe I need to get a haircut.

1 comment:

malindi said...

good memories, dad... the first car i ever drove [11 miles, i can close my eyes and see the road before me in my mind's eye], listening to All Things Considered [well, i remember hearing the opening rift to ATC & would whine cause that meant the end of music & the beginning of blah blah blah news], and the plethora of fat lips that the Oh-Shit handle gave me. i loved that bus.

i'll admit, it did make it easier for me to call my dad a hippie when i was too young to know what that term actually meant. now i know better. you're a perfectly normal man who just liked a car that you could sleep in & that could store a lot of stuff!!