Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Station Wagon family

I've been sorting through  automobiliana sent in my classmate and brother-in-law, Aidan O'Neill.  I knew Aidan's father, Thomas Bland Lionel O'Neill, pretty well. He was a schoolteacher and a great Canadian outdoorsman who introduced many of us to cross-country skiing and canoe-tripping. Most of his cars were station wagns because they were the vehicle of the day for hauling around stuff like camping gear and canoes. These days he probably would have had an SUV. On the other hand, later in life he became convinced that Volvos (before they got fancy) were the best and most practical car.
           Before he went all Swedish, TBLO'Neill owned a great series of station wagons.
           The first example isn't even a station wagon, but it is the closest thing to, with that extended cabin. I wish I could say what it was, but I can't. The photograph above was taken somewhere along the North Shore of the St Lawrence River in Quèbec, where the O'Neills have a summer cottage, at Tadoussac. The road along the north shore from Quebec City goes through stunning Laurentian country; the last mile is by car ferry, across the Saguenay River, which plunges in to the St Lawrence just before Tadoussac, the oldest European settlement in Canada.  The St Lawrence is broad and estuarial here, on its way to becoming the St Lawrence Gulf. At certain times of the year you can spot white whales (beluga) from the Baie-Ste-Catherine-Tadoussac ferry.
I'm doing these in sequence, going by the vintage of the cars. Next up is TBLO'N's 1950 Plymouth wagon parked by a stream, on a trip to Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York.

Next up is TBLO'N's 1952 Ford Ranch Wagon with a kayak strapped on the roof. Photo taken in front of Francois Hovington's barn on the Concession Road near Moulin a Baude, Quebec. Only TBLO'N and a few Inuit were kayaking in those days. He built this one: the Sea Flea. He always was an adventurer, and he loved expeditions into the bush, as we say in Canada, eh?

I love this photograph because it nails an era, in terms of teenage style, anyway. These are the Dewarts,  O'Neill cousins who lived north of Boston and summered in Tadoussac. North Shore of Massachusetts to North Shore of the St Lawrence: that's a mighty long drive for eight people, even in a 1956 Ford Country Squire. Here they are waiting for the ferry across the Saguenay.

Next up: a 1960 Pontiac Laurentian wagon, belongs to O'Neill cousins in Sillery, Quebec.
one: Upstate New York, October, and that is a 1963 Pontiac Laurentian wagon.

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