Webconsuls Blog

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Good Night GM...Que Sera, Sera

Today is the 65th Anniversary of D-Day and this past Monday Americans waited to hear the news of General Motors' bankruptcy. Yes, the same GM whose industrial power helped our country be on the winning side in WWII. The news of this bankruptcy was startling, even though we have had so many shocking economical events in the past nine months, I feel this news hits a part of us that is not just about the economy, but our life's memories.

If you read my Saturday post regularly, you know I am not an economist, and I do not have an MBA. I have, although, worked for major US corporations, mainly banks, and in my day was quite proficient in the automobile financing world. But today's post is not about economics, albeit I am heartsick for all those workers impacted by this latest chapter in the American automobile industry. No, today's blog is about my memories of GM. And so I say: Good Night GM...Que sera, sera.

For the record, my life's memories as they relate to automobiles are not just about General Motors' products. For example, I do remember fondly my mother learning to drive in late 1953. We had what I believe was a very used Plymouth. Then one evening in 1954 I remember my father coming home from work. When he came through the door I ran to him and grilled him, as little ones do, what had he brought us? I expected ice cream, but to my surprise, he smiled and said: "I brought you a new car!" Outside sat a brand new 1954 Plymouth sedan. It was two toned, dark brown and beige. And it was in that car in 1956 that we (our the family of six) traveled from San Diego to Great Falls, Montana, to show off our new baby brother. It was during this trip(I was 6.5 years old) that the magical car radio repeatedly played "Que Sera, Sera," (the 1957 Academy Award winning song from the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much.)

By the time we reached Montana I had memorized this wonderful song and my father happily had me sing it for his brothers and sisters! Memories.

My days and nights with General Motors began in 1959. My father traded in the 1954 Plymouth and purchased a 1959 Chevrolet Impala. It was two toned (green and white), no accounting for taste. I never cared for the color, but it seemed so fancy. In 1964 my father traded up for the latest Chevrolet Impala, four door, a really big engine, and a pale blue(Purchase price about $3800). He was beside himself. Following the General Motors' Mantra...my father loved to see the USA in his Chevrolet. In the summer of 1964 our family made another jaunt to Montana and the song of the summer was the "The Girl from Ipanema," which won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. I believe everyone had a love affair with this car...even Hertz featured this model in their Rent a Car ads in 1964. (I am sure the only reason I saved this ad, which you will see in my Picasa Web Slide show, from my 1965 Hilton Hotel room was because of the Impala.)

The summer of 1967 my parents drove me to college in this '64 Impala. I wore some flowers in my hair and they dutifully dropped me at the University of San Fransisco and tried to avoid getting lost in Haight/Ashbury on their way out of town!

Here are some car facts about me:
1. Since 1968 through today I have owned 13 vehicles. 41 years...13 vehicles. Two(2) were General Motors products, three (3) were Chrysler products and eight(8) were foreign models.
2. What I love best about my General Motors vehicles is this: In 1980 we brought our new born Aaron home from the hospital in the 1979 Buick Regal and in 1984 we brought Daniel home from the hospital in our 1984 Chevrolet S10 Blazer.
3. In 1997, Dennis and I drove across country with Aaron and Daniel in our 1994 Dodge Caravan...more memories.

My friends know this about me. I am not a car person. I do not care about cars, I hate worrying about vehicle upkeep, I would love to have all of the money I have spent over the past 41 years buying, renting, leasing, insuring, and repairing vehicles. I would happily live in Manhattan, Chicago, or San Francisco and take mass transit. But I will never trade the memories of being brave enough to ride with my mother when she was learning to drive and I was only four, or my father settling in the driver's seat for a Sunday drive in the country, or road trips to Montana, Las Vegas, Denali, Howe's Cavern, the Bronx, Washington, D. C...and let's not forget front bench seats, no seat belts, no A/C, crossing the desert with a canvas radiator bag.

So today, que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. But for some reason I cannot bear to say good-bye to GM. I will remember the great ads, Dinah Shore, and my favorite from 2002.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

I will say good-night to GM, savor my memories and wait and hope the reinvention is successful.

P.S. Let me hear about your GM memories and enjoy my YouTube video selections and Picasa Web Album.
P. P. S. A good friend just read this blog and he reminded me that in 1960 my father purchased a used 1940 Cadillac mourning car. It had jump seats and held about 10-12 people. It was the real fore-runner in our family for a mini-van. Go to this blog post to read about my dad and see a photo of this crazy car.


  1. Great pictures. Couldn't see the 59 Impala clearly but beautiful shot with the tree.

    I cannot share any experiences since I've only owned couple of cars and both were foreign. I enjoyed reading the post, quite a lot of cars you've had. Enjoy the weekend.

  2. I think this comment should be titled "Good Morning GM." I was happy to read the news about GM repaying their loans to the U.S. and Canada. GM Pays Back Loans from US and Canada
    Happy Earth Day!

  3. Judy, you really do know how to tell a story and make us feel like we're there with you.

    I wasn't quite born yet with Doris singing her famous song form that great movie (which Archie Bunker sang as "Que Serooo, Seroooo") but I do so remember the little radio on our kitchen during summers on Hornby Island. My mother would be baking peanut butter cookies or getting dinner ready and "The Girl from Ipanema" wold be playing. It was 1967. Whenever I hear that song, I am transported back to that time and I smell peanut butter cookies and the summer sun streaming down on our little summer cabin.

    Your story though was about GMs and cars. My memory of riding in my dad's 1954 or 55 Pontiac Chieftain that he bought he and my mother lived in San Francisco and where my brother was born, is very strong. I remember how it would whistle down the street when my dad came home from work, and on spring or fall evenings, I'd crawl up on to the dip between the engine wheel wells and feel the warmth left from the engine.

    I also remember doing on summer holidays in it. Here is a link to a photo of my brother and I from 1963 (my mother dressed me rather dapperly in those days, even for coming home from "camp"). http://livingoutbeyond.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/63-ferry-john-rob.jpg

    Love your stories. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi John,
    Thanks for stopping by here today. The photo of you and your brother coming home from camp is wonderful. I think our mothers might be related, the best cookies that my mother ever baked were peanut butter cookies. I hadn't thought about this post until today when Chris Brogan was talking about the value of cars. A car is almost always a depreciating asset, but the memories are invaluable.


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