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Growing Bolder Article

Tell us about your first car, or a memorable experience in a car.

Posted December 5, 2008, 2:29 pm
Growing Bolder asks leaders, thinkers, writers, life coaches, entertainers and role models to weigh in on issues affecting our lives.

Read the responses from our esteemed panel of Thought Leaders, then add your own thoughts at the bottom of the page!

Joe and Carol Neal Joe and Carol Neal
We have always focused on dependability and reliability with a few exceptions. 

Our first practical purchase was a VW Bus, which we kept for 15 years, then purchased it's successor a VW Vanagan, which we had for 8 years, also had several VW Beetles along the way. 

We have had station wagons and suv's, since after it got back to just us at home, needed something to haul around our bikes and athletic gear. 

Our current car is a 9 year old Mercedes Benz suv, with which we are very pleased and hope to continue to enjoy for a few more years. 

About Joe and Carol Neal
Triathlons are difficult enough, but imagine competing against your spouse! Carol and Joe Neal have been married for 40 years and their relationship is as strong as their bodies. A former college athlete, Joe now relishes the opportunity get out and test himself in as many triathlons as he and his wife can enter! Click here to watch a fascinating Growing Bolder video story on the Neals.

Swimmer Karen Einsidler
My most memorable experience in my first car (my parents old Mercury Monterey that I had to spend $300, which was a lot of money at the time, to fix) was deciding to drive straight from college in Massachusetts to Florida with a very good friend at the time. 

I did have to detour to go pick her up in New Jersey. What a great time. We ate PB&Js and drank soda and coffee to stay awake. 

I currently drive either a Ford Windstar which is a mini-van because yes I am a soccer mom or my father's 1999 BMW which I won't give up because it was one of his pride possessions and he is no longer around to drive it so I do. 

Yes my cars define my status as a mother of triplets and a very sentimental person.

About Karen Einsidler
She was leading what appeared to be a storybook life until she was diagnosed with cancer. The mother of triplets was an attorney and active in the master athletes world when she underwent a double mastectomy. Rather than quitting, she dove back into competitive swimming and bounced back to return to the World Masters Championships, where she captured a gold and four silvers. To Karen, giving up was never an option. 

Ed Shadle Ed Shadle
My first car was a 1951 Studebaker Champion, four door, six cylinder. For a kid in high school in the 50's that was an awful car. It wasn't cool at all! 

Dad had turned it over to me with the orders that I had to do a valve job on the engine and a few other things before it would run. Dad had just purchased a 51 Cadillac convertable, burgandy with a white top, pin striped, lowered, with a louvered hood and three carbs. Now THAT was cool but I wasn't allowed to touch it. 

I immediately set to modifying the Stude to fit my needs. I lowered it, took off almost all the chrome, wide whites, flipper hubcaps, rolled and pleated upholstery, hopped up the engine with loud exhaust. It was about as cool as a 51 Stude could be in 1959. 

My first 2 minute romance was in the back seat of that Stude. I could do 100 MPH and get 28 MPG with that beast. After I joined the Air Force, the old Stude melted into the brush out in the back field and eventually made its way to a junk yard. So sad! 

What do I think of the cars of today? They all look alike! Their performance isn't all that wonderful given the time the auto industry has had to implement improvements and make them more efficient. One good thing, you don't have to do a valve job on the engine within 70,000 miles and the sparkplugs last forever. 

One thing I don't like is the flimsyness of the modern car. Even the pickup trucks are cheap. If you parked one next to a camp fire, the truck would warp. My old 67 Ford 4X4 with that big 428 cubic inch engine can do just about anything you ask it to do. It is a true work truck with 360,000 miles on it and I can park it next to the camp fire and it loves it.  

What do I drive? I have several cars. I have no foreign cars in my inventory. My wife drives a Caravan and I drive a little Ford Escort for daily chores. I also drive my old 67 Ford truck, a 32 Ford Coupe with an Oldsmobile engine, a 64 Galaxie, a 52 Chevy truck that has been in the family since new, an 86 Ford 350 Econovan for pulling the little racecar trailer. The oldest vehicle in the inventory is an 1890's Surry with a 13 year old quarter horse for power. 

There are some others in the inventory such as the North American Eagle that have specific jobs. 

How does this define me? I guess it appears that I cannot let loose of things I admire and cherish for one reason or another. My cars (at least the old ones) have their own soul and that is hard to part with. Even my little Beechcraft Skipper (airplane) that I built from two wrecked ones has its own identiy and its name is Elmo. If I ever have to sell Elmo, it will be a sad day to watch someone fly it away. 

So, what does that tell you about me? I'm a sentimental sort of character that loves his past, his acquaintences and cherishes moments. I guess my cars and other mechanical contraptions are an extension of who I am. Good or bad, that is me and I'm getting to old to change.

About Ed Shadle
At age 67, he is a speed demon who's attempting to steal something the British have had for 20 years -- the world land speed record. And he plans on doing it with a jet-powered car he created himself. Shadle, who worked with IBM for 30 years, created the car from an old fighter plane. The North American Eagle is an old Lockheed F-104 Starfighter that he modified to not lift off the ground. But Shadle doesn't want to be the driver of the car when the record attempt is made in Nevada, so he's looking for a driver by holding an essay contest. Shadle says the car will go up 800 mph, which is more than half of the speed of the old airplane that flew 1,400 mph.

Howard-Stone-3x4.jpg Howard Stone
After motoring in my earlier days behind the wheel in a '51 Olds, then a VW Beetle circa '57, I found the car of my dreams waiting for me in a Ford dealer showroom: My sweet and sassy '61 canary yellow Falcon convertible, black rag top, black interior, straight 6. 

A gorgeous Brooklyn date took the wind out my sails one summer evening when she said, "Your car is cute, bot not as tweedy as you think." Go figure! 

Tweedier came in 1980 when my boss and I each bought the Renault "Gordini" with the huge sliding roof, and the engine that gargled "Bon Jour" when starting up. 

Been pretty ordinary since then. Honk if your car is not related to your self esteem.

About Howard Stone
With Americans living longer, healthier lives, the conventional idea of retirement is obsolete. Millions of Americans are working past the age of sixty-five - not because they have to, but because they want to. Many, like Howard and his wife Marika, discover second careers, start their own businesses, or go back to school. Howard enjoyed a long career in international advertising sales and magazine publishing before he became a certified life coach at age sixty-four. Marika is the editorial director of 2young2retire.com and has been a journalist, English teacher, public relations account executive, and small business owner. She is also a certified Kripalu yoga teacher.

Shirley Mitchell Shirley W. Mitchell
My first car was a yellow and green 1954 Chevrolet, bought for me by my new husband.  

As newlyweds we moved into the remodeled home of his parents old home, about 20 miles from town.  This beautiful car gave me freedom.  I absolutely loved it!  I drove it to work as a secretary to a wonderful elementary school principle. 

Today I drive a 2007, white diamond STS Cadillac.  It is a classy car with a great ride.  I love my car and feel empowered by it.  This car gives me independance, to move, live and have my being! 

We also have a 2005 Hummer H2. We bought the Hummer this year because we travel all over the United States to Events, and wanted something BIG and Reliable to take us to our destinations, through all kinds of weather conditions. 

We also carry a great deal of equipment and books. The Hummer H2 has proved itself an invaluable tool!

About Shirley W. Mitchell
After 7 decades on this earth, Shirley has more energy than people half her age! She's the author of Fabulous after 50, Sensational after 60, and a number of other highly motivating reads. She's the host of radio's Aging Outside the Box. She is an internet tour de force, with a number of web sites of her own. She is a passionate member of Growing Bolder where her user name is Fabulous (be sure to send her a note!). Shirly is proof of the philosophy she spreads, that age is just a number, not a limit.

Sherrie Mathieson Sherrie Mathieson
Being a New Yorker for most of my life --I didn't feel the need to drive early on. My school had art classes galore but had no "Driver's -ed" as so many schools did. 

My father drove an old used car, because there was no emphasis on material things in my parent's household--it was all about utility. I grew up knowing and caring little about cars. It was great for my dates who where never "judged" by the car they drove (though I LOVED when they owned one). 

But eventually the film business was taking me all over--and the need to drive became apparent. Still I all ways had an assistant to do double duty as a driver.. so I delayed till my mid-thirties. 

My first car was bought when I married--it was a Chevy Blazer--I was ecstatic--even though the I knew that the Range Rover was the vehicle of choice for the affluent directors I worked with, and I loved the look of rugged off road vehicles from the "get-go". I also loved the SUV because I felt safer in a vehicle that sat high and I could have better vision around as I drove. 

I was never a regular "car" person.. and I found sports cars uncomfortable (to my husband's chagrin). My husband "lives and breathes" cars--and it didn't take long before I was thoroughly educated on all things on 4 (or even 2) wheels.  

Since the Blazer my cars have consistently been mid-sized SUVs-- but I always felt ---even before the gas crunch--that many of those offered like the Hummer or the gaudy Escalade, were ridiculous in size and ultimate gas-guzzlers. 

I felt many years ago that we need to look closely at our dependence on the mid-east--and finding more gas efficient cars should be our immediate goal. 

As soon as Lexus put out it's version of the SUV Hybrid--we bought it--if only to make "a statement"(it cost $10,000 more than the regular version). I never did get the Range Rover or the Galenda Wagon (GL) that Mercedes made---although they hit my nirvana for great rugged design--because of their poor gas mileage. 

Since I'm so influenced by design--I'm proud to say that I've kept temptation at bay--in favor of a direction that I think is imperative we all follow. I'm looking forward to a rugged looking electric car. 

About Sherrie Mathieson
She's made an indelible mark as an award winning Costume Designer and Fashion Stylist. You've seen her work in countless feature films, TV shows, music videos, commercials and print. She's styled Academy Award winning actors, sports figures, rock stars and many others. Now, she's offering to style you! Sherrie created a manual to help bring you and your clothes into the 21st century. Her book, "Forever Cool: How to Achieve Ageless, Youthful and Modern Personal Style" is tailor made to give baby boomers a tailored look! Don't wait too long to read it because she has a new book due out this spring!

Ted Skup Ted Skup
My first vehicle was a 1961 Buick LaSabre convertable, given to me free from my new brother-in-law as a peace offering. At sixteen this beauty could pack up to ten of my friends comfortably. With gas at 25 cents a gallon, we could cruise the neighberhoods all day for a buck. Today I drive a Toyota 4Runner Suv with only room for six . I guess safety is the reason I drive an SUV today. I must say though, we had a lot more fun with all ten of us in the 1961 Buick listening to "Louie Louie" on the radio.

About Ted Skup
He believes that with obesity levels at an all-time high, fitness needs be a national priority. He says despite the fact we have an arsenal of exercise options at our disposal, the ultimate choice is, the simple push-up. Skup takes on the 35-billion-dollar fitness industry and explains why it is failing us, with its bogus claims, magic bullets, and quick fixes. Although the fitness industry may not want to hear it, push-ups are free, no equipment, no gimmicks and totally portable. He is the author of Death, Taxes & Push-ups.

Art D'Alessandro Art D'Alessandro
Back in 1966 I had traded in my first car, a '55 Plymouth two-toned sedan, the one I had bought for $150 after working a couple of back-to-back 80-hour weeks at Fairway Markets for 95 cents per and moved up in the world to a '63 Dodge Dart that hauled buggy.

Of course, being young and devoid of any common sense, I decided to test its limits "post haste" and headed for Daytona Beach to show it off, hitting speeds in excess of 110 mph. 

On my trip back, the Dart's engine began spewing black smoke and finally blew up as I coasted to a stop in front of the Daytona Beach Funeral Home where I parked. What to do... 

After much deliberation and hand wrenching, I called home and spoke to my father on his only day off, the same guy who had warned me about spending $1,400 on the "green hot rod." 

I waited long hours in the funeral home parking lot until my father pulled in with a towbar, hooked me up and started us on what probably would be the longest fifty minute drive of my life, back to Orlando. 

I braced myself for the inevitable (and much deserved) stern lecture laced with those "special" words reserved for just such occasions, but, amazingly, they never came. 

Instead, a radio station was playing the latest Bill Cosby comedy album, and we both sat together in the front seat of his Packard and laughed all the way home, while the time flew by way too fast. 

Some 40 years and 10 vehicles later, with my father now gone over 25 years, it remains my most cherished automobile memory.

About Art D'Alessandro
The world is filled with people telling you that you can't do something or you can't do it your own way. This screenwriter and producer has ignored those naysayers and in the process, bucked two Hollywood trends. He does not live in Los Angeles, and he's over 50. His most recent project is the movie, The Final Season, starring Sean Astin and Rachel Leigh Cook. It's based on a true story about a small high school baseball team.

Elaine-Beaubien-1x1.jpg Elaine Beaubien
Attached is a picture of my car on the Love Bug Book Tour. I groove on driving it around. 

I got the bug for my 50th birthday and had it tie dyed a few years later. Peace, man. 

I made a video for friends and family for the holidays last year. It features my wheels and is on youtube.  

What a wonderful way to combine to day's new technology with the desire to wish those I love happy holidays! And happy holidays to you!

About Elaine Beaubien
Elaine Beaubien is an award-winning professor, an international speaker, entrepreneur, corporate trainer and a popular columnist. But after turning 50, she knew she wanted to try her hand at something else -- writing romance novels. So, she started writing under the pen name E.K. Barber but the secret is now out. Her latest is, "Flight into Fate and Flight into Destiny."

© 2013-2014. Growing Bolder Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


  • Posted 8:11pm August 13th, 2009
    My first auto was a British racing green 1952 MG. The sales man wanted someone over 21 to sign the sales receipt, so my dear brother said he would, and I had my dream car. It had plastic window's, removable, a spare tire on the back, and an engine I enjoyed watching. Looked like a steam engine to me, its pistons pumping up and down. A stick shift, my first, and 5 gears. One problem, it burned 4 quarts of oil and only took 5 quarts. So when I pulled away stepping on the gas, a cloud of black smoke followed me. But what teenager looks in the rearview mirror, except to put her lipstick on? I kept it one month, loving every ride I took in it. Driving threw tunnels, the sound was wonderful. If any one saw the movie with Cary Grant when picks up Debra Kerr in Europe, the car he drove was mine. Soon I couldn't afford the oil and my brother suggested I take it back. I did, and that was the end of my dream car.

  • Posted 7:24am June 19th, 2009
    My first official, and definitely most memorable, set of wheels had to be a six-wheeled, one-ton stick shift International Harvestore olive green flatbed truck that I drove around campus in downtown Milwaukee for about a year.  I had brought my horse to school with me after my freshman year of college, and needed something to get around in to see him after school and on the weekends where he was parked out in the suburbs.  I don't remember exactly how I ended up with this loaner truck from my parents who still lived on a farm at the time, but I got the truck for a while.  Whoooo Boy!!  To quote Bette Davis, you had to "fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride."  It growled like a cement mixer when it ran, and took two hands to wrestle the stick into reverse.  A friend and I filched feedbags full of old bricks from a construction project just to weight down the back end.  Trust me, parallel parking that big a monster on a downtown street was an art.  My two favorite image flashbacks  have to be driving the truck up to a newspaper assignment and emerging clad in a silver grey suit and dressy black strappy Famolare sandals, and driving it out the "in" gate in a high-rise parking lot while accompanied by a cute bartender.  The side mirrors of the truck stood so far out that one of them cracked the gate as we went through.  My bad!

  • Ann2-13.jpg
    Posted 11:21am April 28th, 2009
    Well, how did I miss this GB article?

    My first car was a 1965 Chevy Nova spanking new.  It was black with red inside.  I got it right after I started work at the Barnett Bank in Cocoa, Florida right after graduation.  The Mustang was the big ticket at that time, but I thought I couldn't afford such a sporty car...thus I got the Nova.  Then to my surprise I could have gotten a Mustang.  They were around the same price.  I found the sales receipt not long ago and I paid a little over $2,000 for it.  That was the good ole days.  

  • Ina 29 juli 2011.jpg
    Posted 10:44am December 18th, 2008
    "Fiat Palio Weekend" actually. There is a difference I think.

  • Ina 29 juli 2011.jpg
    Posted 10:03am December 13th, 2008
    I never owned a car myself and I have no drivers liscense. And no desire to have one. Well, I tried getting my liscense in the seventies, but I am just too stupid to deal with real traffic or real traffic has too many obstacles for me.  I didnot see all the trafficsigns. Somehow I never needed one too.  I've always done fine in those days by using bikes, trains and busses, friends and occasional taxi's, and by hicthiking a lot I suppose. I dont live in the USA,  but  on an island in a small country in Europe, where distances are smaller anyway.

    My husband has a second hand Fiat Palio now, built in 1992 or 1993, nice green blue colour, doesn't use much energy.  Before that he had other Fiats, a 4 wheeldrive Tempra even, and a couple of Renaults. Not all at once, one at the time. I like Renaults the best, more space for the legs. The first car he /we got was a Skoda, made in Yugoslavia. We looked for notes first, as rumour had it that prisoners made those cars and sometimes left notes in them, but that probably was a hoax.
    My mother was the one with a drivers liscense in our family,  she got one in 1965 and  my father bought a second hand Volkswagen Beetle,  that was allowed 16 km per hour while she was taking lessons. As he had no liscense, and never got one, my mother was supposed to drive. Well, she never did on the mainland btw and neighter did he.  He used it to go rabbit hunting on the easter part of the island. After the Volkswagen, we got a blue Opel that we called the Flintstone car as the floor had rusted away, you could see the street. And we had a Ford Anglia 2 times, with a sort of wings on the back. Their last car was a red one he shared with a friend.

    We have gone on 2 vacations to the Belgian Ardennes with the white Renault. Beautiful there, really. But the traffic... Belgium has a strange way of traffic signaling.  They tell you to go to the right side, on the spot, instead of on forehand. Something that had the effect like : "You should have turned right to go to Bütgenbach" in stead of:  "Turn right in 100 meters".

    I think newly built  cars should be on solar energy. And have plenty of room for ones legs. Pollution and the use of fossile fuesl with all its problems  are good reasons for the car industry to change things. I hope they will.

    What a cars tells about you? Not much I think. Well, if you are very rich, you probably have a newer car or a nice oldtimer. But that isnot always the case. A car says nothing about a person I think.

    My husbands cars says he drives a nice looking, clean (not always but usually), Italian car. It does not mean he likes spaghetti or something like that  


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