(This recalls the events of February 2003)
I’ve heard it said more than once that so many of the things that are important in our lives depend on our point of view. I live in a small place about thirty miles south of Richmond, the capital city of Virginia. Colonial Heights is where I grew up and southeast Virginia has never been known for long snowy winters. We usually get one to three inches a couple of times over the course of the winter and sometimes not even that. But for the folks around here one to three inches are enough to all but cripple civilization. The forecast goes out and an immediate mad frenzy breaks out at every local grocery store where hordes of shoppers clean out every container of milk and loaf of bread. Programming on local television and radio becomes littered with special reports of school closings and all manner of businesses and organizations that can no longer function.
My wife conversely, was born and raised in New York City where it takes an act of congress to close public schools. Snow hits a foot deep and kids within a one-mile radius of their respective educational facility are still required to provide their own transportation. Added to which indignity, residents are under citywide law to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of the snowfall. Such laws in this part of the country would hail the return of lynching mobs for local government. A recent visit to some of my wife’s relatives up in Albany found over three feet of snow on the ground and schools or businesses yet to close. Plowed snow was piled so high on the roadsides that venturing down side streets was like driving canyon floor burro trails. All of which brings me to my latest foray in my life as a car-guy.
Every February, the Asphalt Angels car club in the Richmond area puts on a rods and customs car show of which I have been an attendee almost yearly since the beginning of my driving days. As I alluded to earlier, foul weather seldom imposes itself on this event (it is held indoors, I refer to the travel there) but this year was an exception. So then comes the mental question, do you brave the elements to go see the show? Do you break out the gloves and the ice scraper or heed the urgings of the local media that blurb, “if you don’t HAVE to go out, STAY IN PLEASE!” So which am I, dedicated or crazy? Further deliberation was not required as I warmed up the vehicle and cleared the windows of ice. I mooched an extra roll of film from my wife and set out for the show.
Once on route, I sometimes feel that the auto industry of late has been selling a false sense of complacency to the public at large. As I mentioned before, many people in this part of the country seem to be ill equipped to deal with winter weather conditions. It didn’t take long to see firsthand why local authorities plead with citizens to stay home. I witnessed the aftermath of no less than six accidents in the less than an hour drive it took me to reach the show. The advent of the SUV to our roads has brought along its share of ills. So many people listen to the dealers sing the praises of the safety of these vehicles, but somehow I can’t help feeling that this translates to many as the ability to not slow down no matter the conditions. I shouldn’t pick solely on the SUV here, I was also passed by the driver of a Subaru WRX who was weaving through slower traffic at better than 60 mph! The question rings in my head once again. The people that buy these vehicles and drive this way, which are they, dedicated or crazy?
I arrived at the show unscathed and walked about through the expectedly thin crowd. Come to think of it, you probably couldn’t refer to the attendance as a crowd at all. Most were the show cars owners and friends. This however provided some wonderful photo opportunities. Low angle shots and full side profiles that were totally devoid of spectators and passers-by. I strolled about admiring the time, workmanship and pure artistic vision it takes to create these rolling works of art. And like any other art exhibition, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some cars hold you awestruck, some pea green with envy, while others pose that recurring question about their creators. Which are they, dedicated or crazy?
I suppose it’s a question that will forever haunt the world of the car-guy. But I have found solace in one of my wife’s favorite pastimes, which is quilting. After attending my first quilt show and admiring the time, patience, effort and creativity it takes to produce some of these fabric artworks, I found the same question echoing in my head. Which are they, dedicated or crazy?
Car-guys of the world take heart! We are not alone!
T. August Green