Thursday, August 5, 2010

Geromolina's Last Ride

I have had a long standing love of Volkswagen's since before I could remember. I was thinking last night that it is my German roots trying to overpower my more prevalent Irish roots.... Either way, a love of old VW's is one of my genetic flaws. Last night I said good bye to Geromolina, my 1969 bus that has lived with us since July of 2000. A friend commented a couple weeks ago, "Catherine, I don't know you to be one who is attached to stuff, so why the angst about a car?" Well, only a lover of old VW's knows the feeling. We just love them and don't ask why. It did however give me reason to think of all the great VW memories I have. I'll share just a smidge of them now.

1977 Joan McMann and friends would chip in 25 cents each for gas and drive all over Huntington Beach in her VW Bug. 1977 I was in my first car accident in Joan's Dad's VW Bus. 1978 I ran away from home in a VW Bus, I don't remember what I returned in....

1979 Graduated High School and left on a west coast excursion with Kim Benedict in her VW Beetle. Left home again that year, I could fit everything I valued in that beetle including my sewing machine, stereo, and favorite chair.
1980 Gave birth to my daughter Molly. My parents were in Mexico, I had my roommates go get my Gramma who was visiting from Wisconsin so she could see her great grand child, born on her 80th birthday. She wouldn't go in my parent's car. Danny picked her up in his bus....
1985 Robert and I got married. Our car of choice for our honeymoon/surf trip....A Volkswagen...

Somewhere around 1992 we got our first bus. Born in 1967, her name was The Magic Bus. It was a good time driving her around. Caitlin got her first black eye when she tried to run from one end to the other...Inside the bus. She had beautiful wood carved cabinets and a comfy bed. We enjoyed many a beach day and "bus dates" with her. When Molly started driving, the Magic Bus went to go live with Billy. It was nice to see her driving around Carlsbad. Billy had restored her and we recently heard she lives in England now!!!!

One spring break in Molly's junior year, we were wondering why we were depressed. We realized that we didn't have a Volkswagen and ended up buying a Vanagon. We thought this would be safer and not so much work. Wrong. We didn't keep her too long.

July of 2000, we were surfing in Cabo and met a lovely Australian couple, Craig and Marnie, who had bought a bus in Washington, drove her all over the west coast including Yosemite and Las Vegas, and now were in Cabo. We invited them to visit on their way home. They ended up staying a week, we bought their bus, and gave them a ride to the airport. $1200. So many good times, good memories, she became a neighborhood fixture.

When I turned 40, Robert surprised me with a great gift! A brand new VW Beetle.

Wow! Two Volkswagen's living in one house. She was fun to drive, Caitlin and I had many fun volleyball road trips in Bella. Lot's of heart to heart conversations, we got lost driving to Vegas once, she went a lot of cool places. I used to drive my father in law Bill, to see Violet or go to Dr appointments. He would always say, "Are we gonna take the red car?" He loved German engineering. But Bella was made of plastic and more and more things were getting broken, so she was replaced by my Honda, Emma.

All the while, Geromolina is getting rustier and rustier, and she spends more time getting worked on than riding the open roads or going surfing and the kids have all left home so she doesn't go on bus dates anymore........

Sometimes, it took a few neighbors and the dog to get her going......

Unless you are one of those people....(I know they are out there) That have this love of the Volkswagen, you many not fully comprehend the relationship some of us have with our vehicles. My dentist recently remarked that my mourning was like that of losing a family member.... Not the same, but as a feeling being, we may sometimes attach feelings to an object; a favorite blanket, the rocking chair where I fed my children, a yellow bowl, or a Volkswagen.
Geromolina has gone to live with Brian now. Originally from Hawaii and newly laid off from his computer engineer job, he's got some time and money to spend on a project. He said his girlfriend wants to go camping in her. He won't try to restore her to her original beauty, but so she can get around and be reasonably safe. He said he'd bring her buy and we could have a party. After she left on the tow truck last night, a few neighbors expressed sadness and disbelief that she would no longer be with us here on Alviso. As one boy pushed his new baby brother in a stroller, he said, "I loved that car, Man." No, the street will never be quite the same.

I had originally thought I would keep the rear door and window, to make an art project in my back yard. After all, it had some of favorite bumper stickers. Through some gentle urging by my friend Rod, I decided to keep her whole, minus a few hubcaps. I found enough trinketry and history inside her to make a nice little art project. The proceeds from her sale will go towards a custom Roderick Treece mirror for my bathroom. Somewhere in the mirror will be a mother of pearl inlay in a VW insignia. Yes, my love of all things Volkswagen is a metaphor for life. We start young, we go on adventures, we gather up good stories, we start to get rusty, we need more and more work. Then we go on to another adventure. It doesn't mean we are unlovable, we just need a little more time, some occasional bodywork, and then some more love. Then we're ready to go some more. Thanks for all the good times, Geri. I will always love and miss you, I hope your new family makes some good memories with you.

What are your fond VW memories?


  1. Love the VW stories!! The car I learned to drive in was a VW Bug, stick-shift, of course. It took me all over Pasadena - I'd just drive somewhere to feel the power of being behind the wheel in that special little car. Ahhh, the memories - late 60's.

  2. Wonderful memories Catherine!! Loved the VW stories!! I wish I had a car with all that history but Millie hasn't traveled quite as much. I am interested in seeing your VW shrine/artwork when you have finished it!!