Today, in honor of Independence Day, I'm remembering the time I first discovered the great American past time of cruising and the car that made it possible. That car was a '68 Cadillac De Ville Convertible.
The car was white, the interior was red and the ride was magical. Not only was it a convertible, with the trunk space for all the Barbies I could possibly accrue, but it also had the power to transform a curmudgeon into a cuddly bear.
My best friend's dad, Mr. V, is one tough dude. Ivy League educated & a powerful self-made businessman, Mr. V is super smart and even more intimidating, especially if you're 6. Even his eyebrows are a force to be reckoned with. In those days, he loved (in order of importance) Coors in a can, his work, his golf game and his Caddie. Since my own parents were hard core Europhiles, this car may as well have been an Enzo– for to me, it was as exotic as they come. And when he piled me, my best friend, her mom & her 3 sisters into this car for the first time, with plenty of room to spare mind you, I was pretty sure this was gonna be a special ride.
(modern day kids enjoying their own Caddie in Santa Monica)
What was most impressive was what wasn't happening. We were driving really slowly– I mean like 15 miles per hour. Mr. V just put that baby in drive, rested his left elbow on the door, leaned back and crept along the roads like every tire rotation was sacred. No radio, no shifting, no accelaration noise, just cruisin.' I'd never done that before, and certainly never in a 20 foot American classic with the top down in August.
What was even more exceptional was what happened to Mr. V. He transformed from the world's scariest man to a pussy cat in approximately .2 miles. He was smiling, joking and clearly loving every minute of our 2 hour/10 mile tour. As we cruised into their golf club for their 11am tee time, every Izod shirt turned to catch a glimpse. Mr. V then tossed the keys to the salivating, pimply- faced valet driver & we instantly felt like Connecticut royalty. From that moment on, I was hooked.
So to you '68 Caddie, thanks for the memories. And to you Mr. V, who is now a great grandfather and celebrating his 88th birthday this July 4th, I'll be cruisin this weekend & thinking of you.