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Commentary
Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Riding in the Car

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As schools begin the academic year and the shank of the summer road-trip season ends, I look at my faithful steed with happy memories. (Do you name your cars? Larry and I do; I think that it has more than a little to do with America’s love affair with the automobile.  Hence, we plaster our attached garages onto the front of our homes and, in essence, keep our cars in the house with us. That being so, why wouldn’t we name our cars?)  The Pod, our green Prius, habitually provides adventures both quick and lengthy, and we do love and pamper it like a family member. We truly have become Pod People.

This summer, along with short adventures in Michigan, fresh from a well-baby check-up at the dealer and newly shod, the Pod carried us and our vast array of “stuff” with which we feel compelled to travel, over to Virginia to see our friends Noreen and Alan who retired in Williamsburg. Since we are a small town and Noreen and Alan never met a stranger, maybe you know them too. If so, go on over, they love seeing folks from here and have taken up that Southern-hospitality thing in a big way. Anyway, along the trek, the Pod cheerfully and impulsively stopped in West Virginia for local crafts and for lunch at Greenbrier Resort. (Did you know that there is a nuclear bunker there for the President and a couple of hundred other folks as well as the very fine lunch aboveground for the rest of us?)

Because in the past I have been less-than-fond of road trips, I will study the road atlas—yes, paper maps—as we motor along, looking for points-of-interest on  the way to our destination just to have time for walking around outside the car. Some oddities that we have seen as a result of this: the Mustard Museum in WI, the Rotary Jail in Crawfordsville, IN, the first concrete street in America in Bellefontaine, OH, the site of the Women’s Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, and the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA. All of these were “right on the way” to some destination or another that we had, and all were riveting.

Another thing for which the car is useful: storage of stuff. On the Mary Tyler Moore show, her friend, Rhoda Morgenstern, once commented, “What is a car but a purse on wheels?” Many things collect in there if you aren’t careful. Often I start out in the morning with an extra pair of shoes in the car, because I think that it is like starting the day fresh to change shoes midday: gives my feet a whole new configuration. If I don’t pay attention though, a pile of shoes will collect in the back behind the driver’s seat. In fact, one time there was such a collection that Larry dubbed the car “The Imeldamobile.” (If you don’t get that reference Google “Imelda Marcos.” Shoe Collection pops up and there are pictures from the Marcos museum that show some of that very extensive collection.)

Although I love the Pod, but have sometimes been eager to be out of it, I recently have surprised myself by wanting to be in there longer. I find myself sitting to hear additional things on the radio. Guiltily, this is not for NPR “driveway moments.” This is because on satellite radio there now is a Beatles channel. I find that it has turned me into a radio junkie. I want to hear just one more of those old, feel-good songs. And, I’ve learned that not only Sir Paul, but Ringo has had tons of post-Beatles’ tunes: some of which are quite jolly. So, being in the car, listening to the Beatles with the darker months on the horizon, instead of the very obvious “Drive My Car,” let’s have a little soul-warming, “Here Comes the Sun."

Music: "Here Comes the Sun" by George Harrison, Concert for Bangladesh, Madison Square Garden

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