Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Remembering Clunker...

When my mother died, in the winter of my eleventh year, I was sent off to a boarding school for kids in 4th - 8th grade. It was up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, and was called North Country School. I entered during the sixth grade, and was kicked out at the end of eighth grade for being a bad apple, a bad influence, and just a bad kid.

A few months after entering North Country, my father died, making me an official orphan. My Aunt Kate (1915 - 2003) brave
ly stepped up and took over as my guardian for the next few years. She decided the task was beyond her when I was kicked out, and the task was passed onto my oldest sister. But during most of my time at North Country, Aunt Kate was my parental figure. She was the one I would call, sobbing into the phone, begging please please PLEASE not to be sent to the summer camp, Camp Treetops. I was sent anyway. It was clear to me that I was a burden that needed to be stuck away out of sight all year round... boarding school and summer camp was just the ticket.

One memory that stands out from that period was my enormous embarrassment when Aunt Kate would come to pick me up in Clunker. She was a wealthy woman, as was typical of the parents of children at North Country, but she loved driving this ANCIENT old car around. It must have been from the 1930s or 1940s. Today I wo
uld think that old car extremely cool, but as a child it just looked shabby and ridiculous to me. I hated riding in it. I remember there was cardboard on the floor, and you had to keep your feet spread to the sides, as the floorboards were starting to corrode away. The original exterior paint was gone, leaving Clunker a dull primer grey.

Clunker vanished into the haze of distant memories long ago, and Aunt Kate herself, while unforgettable, has been gone for 4 years. Now I imagine they might be together again, both of them young and shiny, riding along those mountain roads in some happy afterlife.


Steven Winn Alexander said...

Good writing Jay. Keep walkin'.

Jaya said...