VW Bug

Since I am in a writing mood, I’ll relate another story.

During our third and fourth years at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, we had clinical rotations at various hospitals throughout Baltimore. I was taking public transportation to the assignments, but it was time consuming and at times at very awkward hours. Thus I decided that I needed/should get a car.

Dad had a parishioner couple who had a 30 year old entrepreneur son, seldom, but also have attended church. Thus Mom and Dad knew of this young man. Apparently among his several work employments, one was trading directly with Volkswagen Germany in importing the new ‘less than $2000 Volkswagen Bug.’ He told Dad that he could get me one for $1750. This could happen by Thanksgiving if I could get him the money right away. This sounded very good so we paid him in advance. I made plans to fly home on Thanksgiving, 1968, arranged to switch with classmates for coverage over the week end and I would drive back to Baltimore by Monday.

When I made the trip home, Dad said that the young man had been sick and that the car deal did not go smoothly, and the car never arrived. However, we were assured that it would be here by Christmas. I was not pleased, but accepted this explanation and anticipating the car by Christmas and continued my routine with the public transportation. I went home for Christmas; Dad again expressed regret and said that he had had no further word that we were getting a car. The young man had reported that his illness persisted and he was just not able to complete any work tasks.

As our whole family unit (William and family, Daniel and family and Elizabeth and I) were together at the Christmas dinner table, the door bell rang. It was the young man. Very agitated and distraught, he counted out $1800 and apologized for his inability to accomplish what he promised. The $50 was his gift/penalty. We said that was not necessary then he insisted that we put the $50 in the offering plate for Christmas. He left abruptly and we continued our dinner. Mom made a statement ‘how did he get all that cash; maybe he robbed a bank!’ Sure enough, no sooner than she finished her sentence, the door bell rang again. This time it was the police. There had been a bank robbery and they seized the $1800 as evidence.

Dad felt so badly for the entire situation that he took me to several used car dealers the next day and he purchased for me a used but pristine 1966 Sky Blue Buick Skylark which I drove back to school after New Year 1969. I learned to maintain that car including setting the timing light in tune-ups. I used that car trouble free and had it in San Francisco until 1974 when Jennifer arrived and William got me a Chevy van for the growing family.