Some memories haunt you all your life. You never know when they will be revisited, but when they are, your reaction changes over time they say. But this one, well, I still feel like a helpless little boy sometimes, like when the bully from down the street stole my prize possession. And although I was about five or six at the time, it was may fault. I was careless.
I've always loved model cars. When I was a kid, I had tons of them. They were built to scale and every detail was molded of plastic to look exactly like the real thing. It was the 1950s and cars still had style. Designs changed each year and seemed more beautiful than the year before. I'd save up or earn the two dollars they cost at SS Kresge, the five and dime store in Detroit that preceded K-Mart. It would take forever to make up my mind which little car I wanted to "drive" home.
One of my favorites was of the 1955 Ford thunderbird. The '55 was the first T-Bird produced and in my humble opinion, is still a head turner today. Anyway, I truly cannot remember how the little cream colored model came into my possession, but I suspect it was a birthday gift from my grandmother. It was one a the few "boy" sort of things I showed interest in, so I am sure she wanted to support it.
In '55 I would have been four or so, it doesn't surprise me that I wasn't always conscious of the evils of the world. I remember I was playing on the sideway in front of our house on Centralia in Redford. It began to rain and my mother called for me to come inside. So I "parked" my little car by the curb and did as told.
The rain was pretty light, but at four if your mom wants you inside, you have to stay inside. I wanted to go retrieve my toy, so I stood at the glass door and watched for the rain to subside. Suddenly I saw a couple of the bigger boys from down the street walking by. One of the spied the car and picked it up. I ran out into the rain, shouting, "That's mine!!" They turned and laughed and just continued walking. I was frozen in the now pouring rain. My mother appeared behind me and dragged my back into the house.
To this day, I can still see the car sitting there at the curb. I still feel all the anger a four-year-old could have felt. Regret, fear, sadness. They often wash over me even today, just not as intense I suppose.
I was in an antique store yesterday and saw the model pictured above. I decided I had to have it. It was reasonably priced, too. The shop is in the process of liquidating. I had no cash on me, so I asked the shop owner if he took credit cards. For some reason I found myself telling him the story of that day in the rain so long ago. He listened with deep interest. When I finished, I said I was ready to pay. He smiled, and over my protests, told me to take the little car. He wanted me to have it. Above my protests, he put it into a bag and handed it to me. My heart swelled. Sixty-three years later, a bit of solace came.
It is not an "original" produced in '55, but close enough. I love it all the same and now, when I look at it, I can remember that rainy day and forgive myself for being careless....but not sure I can forgive that jerk who took it. Some righteous outrage is just something you kept tucked away to remind you to be careful, mindful that world is not always that kind. And that what goes round, comes round like the wheels on little model cars.