One last story about the ’46 Plymouth involves the return from a late autumn trip to Carowinds when we were living in my ex-mother-in-law’s home place outside of Concord, NC. I don’t remember anything about the theme park, other than I was very tired, half-asleep on the passenger side of the car. Even the coupe model had big, sofa-like seats, easy to curl up on, like an overstuffed chair. My husband was driving, and just as he turned into our driveway, we were hit by a car, and then blue police lights began flashing.
Did a cop run into us in our own driveway?
No, a drunk driver had been following our taillights to stay on the dark, two-lane country road. He over-steered when he saw the car turn, and hit us on the back quarter panel, crunching in a fender.
The cop had been following the drunk to find a safe place to pull him over. Where we lived, the shoulders of the roads were very narrow and had deep ditches. If cop tried to pull him over, he would have wrecked the car.
The other driver was very concerned about us, but we were not injured. The cop handled the paperwork and went on his way with the drunk. A week or so later, The insurance company, not happy, sent out a very helpful adjustor who saw that we were broke, that the car was ancient, but he had a check sent out any way.
Times were hard for us at that point. I was trying to run a small art and craft business from the house, since I could not find a teaching job, and my husband was working as a painter. Later we each commuted to jobs elsewhere, me to Eastland Mall in Charlotte, which was a cool place back in the 70s, and him to a convenience store in Davidson.
We never fixed the car, but bought heating oil with the money. Later that winter, we moved upstairs, put in a wood-burning heater that we borrowed from a family member and slept next to it at night. We were paying little to no rent for the place, our main expenses being gas and groceries, along with student loans.
Through our various experiences, even when we both had full-time teaching jobs, it seemed that we never had any money, and we survived on what people gave us, on making do, and getting by. Neither of us had learned to manage money, although we were college-educated, talented people.
Being able to manage money is a key component to a successful marriage, being able to plan and talk about money, being able to make and stick to a budget, rather than digging the hole of debt deeper and deeper. We both put off the maintenance of ourselves and our marriage in much the same way that we put off the maintenance of our cars. Each of them was driven until it fell apart.
At some point we gave the Plymouth back to my husband’s family, and I lost track of it. I think it was wrecked and then junked—a sad ending for a great car. About ten years later, the marriage was wrecked and junked, too.