Road Trip with Daddy (Inspector Gadget Commits Crime)


I feel like a detective, trying to investigate my own life—piecing and pasting parts of my past together—hoping to reassemble some sense of story that makes meaning from the fragments—photos, journal entries, newspaper clippings, family stories.  It’s an agonizingly slow process—exceedingly slower than I had ever imagined.

But sometimes it’s also fun.  And sometimes I even laugh–

–As I have in trying to write about my father’s love of gadgets, for example, struggling to anchor that fact in specific stories, in specific memories—dates that can be marked on a calendar—places on a map.

I’ve spent the past week sifting through journal entries written when I was a teenager, sorting photographs from those years, trying to match that particular fascination with gadgets to specific events I wrote about back then—hoping to use photos to fill in the details I don’t remember and didn’t mention in my diary.

For example, during May of 1977 my father was on trial for illegal gambling operations and criminal conspiracy, having been indicted by a grand jury back on February 10th  of that year, on which day the FBI also raided our house in Pittsburgh while my parents were vacationing in Florida and I was away at school for the day.  Jury selection began on Monday, May 9th and ultimately my dad was acquitted on May 26th—though in actuality he was, as my mother still says,”guilty as sin.”

It was in the context of this victory, that on June 10th, my sister Lynn and I drove to Florida with our father, leaving on a chillier-than-usual, Friday morning, one that required a jean jacket for me, a white, Izod cardigan  for my always well-dressed dad.

Lynn, Kathy, Daddy, June 10, 1977. The black gadget in Daddy's left hand will become significant in the story to come.

Breaking up the trip, we stopped in Nashville for the weekend to visit Daddy’s sister, my Aunt Evie, her husband, and sons.  We were scheduled to spend more than four weeks at our condo in Miami Beach with 10 days in the middle on a Caribbean cruise, so Daddy wanted to have his car in Florida for the month.

Thus, the drive.  Thus, the ensuing adventure.

But, Daddy may have had another reason for taking this unprecedented road trip and for dragging kids, who had always only flown, along for the ride.  My mother, other sister, and 4-year-old brother could fly down the following week, but Lynn and I didn’t want to miss a ride we knew would be full of prank-playing, ridden with a general air of hilarity and fun.

You see, Daddy had recently had a new gadget installed in his Cadillac, one he wanted to play with during the drive—show off to friends, family, and innocent by-standers alike.

It’s true, my dad loved anything we would call technology today.  In fact, we had the first of nearly everything invented during the 1970s:  VCR, microwave oven, call-forwarding device—always a remote control this, an automatic that.  And when it came to his car, things were no different.  He wanted what was new, what was cutting edge.

So it was that in 1977, Daddy had what had to have been one of the original automatic car starters installed in his dark green, leather-seated Sedan d’ Ville .  I had always assumed this was simply meant for recreational purposes, for playing tricks on innocent McDonald’s customers startled to death when an empty car parked next to them, started unexpectedly, seemingly of its own accord.

My older cousin, however, 7 years my senior who encountered his first ever car starter in Nashville that weekend of ‘77, insisted to me a couple of weeks ago, it was used for security purposes—which he had to explain to the still naïve, 50-year-old me, who never imagined my dad could have had enemies, ones who might have wanted to harm him or blow up our family car.

For us kids, at least, the automatic car starter was all for fun, for recreational heart attack induction in unwitting, south Florida strangers, one of whom kicked the right, rear tire when the car spontaneously roared to life next to him.

On the road to Miami, however, Daddy came up with more-frequent-than-necessary excuses to stop at fast food establishments along interstate 75, so we could park just outside the front entrance, snag a seat on the other side of the glass picture windows, and watch, over burgers and fries, as Daddy startled one balding old man after another.   We laughed uproariously inside, sometimes targeting particularly gullible-looking diners deemed good for a laugh before they even exited the restaurant.

Pity the passer-by in frail health or the hotel manager in Florida the following week who was so startled by the car that started on its own, he called Bal Harbour police concerned, we could only ever assume, that the car might also pull from the parking lot driverless and endanger the blue-haired old ladies walking their Pugs, Pekingese or one another along the south Florida outback that is Collins Avenue.  God knows aging drivers of Dade County were already dangerous enough without adding, not only a headless driver, but a bodiless one, as well, to the mix.

So the sometimes laughable, sometimes sad and heart-wrenching bottom line is this.  I’m working on this memoir madness.  I’m combing through every kind of document imaginable—and when that fails or I can’t remember enough detail, I sometimes do the next best thing.

Sometimes when I can’t remember Daddy well enough—when I feel like he’s fading—I project my father into the here and now—imagining his reaction to this innovation or that.  And then I remember.  Then he tumbles into today—this room, this house, this southern city—as I imagine his potential interest in Pinterest, his pulling some Instagram scam.  Then I find myself missing him—an ache in the still-very-daughterly, not-nearly-modern-enough marrow of me.

What are some fond memories you have of your parents?  Did you laugh a lot when you were a kid?  When did you encounter your first, automatic, car starter?

Note:  If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that  I am writing a memoir about growing up in an organized crime family.  I’m hope that publishing posts about my past will help me accomplish that.   For a list of my other memoir posts, click here.  If you are interested in reading any of my protected posts, please email me at kownroom@yahoo.com  or let me know in the comments below, and I will gladly share the password with you.

110 thoughts on “Road Trip with Daddy (Inspector Gadget Commits Crime)

  1. I find the “ache” just as you described; it’s in the remembering.

    And I had no idea that automatic car starters existed before the last decade! Questionable antics or not, your Dad was cool, in his own renegade kind of way.

    MJ

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    • He was an awful lot of fun–to say the least. My cousin and I talked a couple of weeks ago about what it would be like if my dad and his mom were still alive. That’s wild to imagine. Sorry you know what that ache feels like–but, also, glad that I describe it in a way you can relate to. Thanks for reading!

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    • Gosh, I’m thrilled to hear this works for you. You are my original audience for these stories, Renee. I can’t thank you enough for encouraging me to tell this tale! And, yes, it is kind of chilling–maybe even very chilling. When I look at what my cousin says, it all makes sense now–but it’s hard to imagine at the same time. Weird.

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  2. Okay, I laughed out loud at sections of this. You do such a good job creating images of the three of you together, laughing. I, like you, would never have thought of the car starter as security. Until you mentioned that, I thought what a silly thing to buy. And, also like MJ, up there, I had no idea they were invented in the ’70’s! Maybe that decade wasn’t as lame as I remember! lol………BTW, your sister Lynn and I shared the same ’70’s fashion sense. I had the same jacket only in red!…..Lastly, your final words—“Then I find myself missing him—an ache in the still-very-daughterly, not-nearly-modern-enough marrow of me.”—are hauntingly heartbreaking. While my parents aren’t dead, they are no longer in my life, and the child in me that loved them still misses parts of them. Tears fill my eyes.

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    • Gosh, that ache is hard to take sometimes, but I also find myself seeking out the feeling, if only to keep my dad alive inside of me–if that makes sense.

      Glad to hear you got a good laugh at all of this, as well. My dad was so, so fun. Everyone loved him. It was hard not to. In a lot of ways he was like a kid with the car starter.

      And, yes, the fashion sense communicated by that blue jacket. Yikes. I’m afraid my sense of fashion may have imroved little since then, but Lynn’s surely has.

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  3. Kathy, what a great story! I do still miss my dad and I feel the ache that you are talking about for all my family that has either passed away or moved away and I don’t ever see anymore, I especially feel it for my mom whose mind has gone away, it is very sad. Thanks so much for sharing this journey with us! It is amazing!

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    • How great to hear from you, Lisa. You would remember Lynn especially from soon after the time of this story. I’m so happy to hear you are reading. But, gosh, I’m sorry about your mom. I had no idea, Lisa. That’s sad–so, so sad. Hugs to you, dear Lisa!

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  4. Kathy, I am lucky to still have both my parents, though neither is as ‘colorful’ as your Dad was. He must’ve had more confidence than anyone I’ve ever heard of, taking his daughters on a potential ‘car may explode’ road trip. The best my father ever did on a road trip was fart in the car (on Interstate 75 between below Knoxville, no less), roll down the window, and bellow “Smell that paper mill!!!” (As you know, there are no paper mills in that vicinity………)

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    • Thanks for reading, Andra. My dad was a “character” to say the least. I suppose one could also say my dad went to the extreme to make sure we didn’t get hurt in an exploding car–though actually, it’s hard for me to imagine explosion was even possible, but maybe my cousin knows more than I do. Who really knows for sure?

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  5. This was such a heartwarming story Kathy. I love the prankster in your dad. The guy who kicked the tire, hilarious!

    Just to prove to you that you are not the only person to struggle with memory, I can’t answer your questions right now. I’m sure we laughed, but I don’t remember the laughter or the motivation. See . . . you are not alone. Actually, you are closer to your story than I am.

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    • In a strange way, it comforts me to know I’m not the only one who struggles to remember. I think I recall the laughter, as it was such a HUGE part of who my dad was. Besides the crime, it may have been his most defining quality. Kind of a weird combination? Thanks for reading, dear Lisa. I’m so pleased you enjoyed this post, my friend!

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  6. Oh my goodness–I can just imagine the reactions to folks when the car started! Your dad was certainly ahead of his time in having one!!! We have one on the Mazda but rarely use it!!! I always forget! As for your question–lots of laughter is remembered as I had a fabulous childhood. Memories of my Daddy who died in 1994 are still vivid and an every day occurrence and I am still making memories with my 82 year old Mom!!!! 🙂

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    • Great to hear your childhood was so full of laughter. Somehow I think laughter and humor make up for a lot of poor parenting. Or maybe that’s only wishful thinking on my part. Actually, my mom still loves to laugh, as well. She was definitely a lot less fun than my dad, but she did and does know how to have fun. So glad your mom does, as well.

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      • Definitely important to know how to have fun! And I think it is also a good thing to be able to laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously, you know? It makes life more interesting!!! Happy Monday!

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  7. Well, I hate to be the jackass here, but I started driving in 1994, so most cars were automatic at that time! (Although I did have a Ford Taurus that would stall and it was an automatic!) 🙂

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    • This wasn’t 1994. It was 1977. I promise, they were unheard of at that time. If you started to drive in ’94, it’s possible you hadn’even been born in ’77. I don’t understand the significance of ’94 in your mind–except for the fact that you began driving then. I don’t think you sound like a jack ass. Maybe you just misread the date I’m writing about?

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      • I suppose they may have been common by then. I didn’t actually pay attention to the growth of their popularity as time went on. They were my “normal” at a much earlier time. Well, not “normal”–but they had been an important part of my experience nearly 2 decades before most folks had them. In ’94 my car didn’t have an automatic starter, but it was a pretty basic car. I was pathetically poor at the time. Plus, from 95-99 I didn’t even own a car. I was poor and, quite frankly, crazy. Not a good time in my life. Yikes!

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  8. Kathy, It’s the laughter and the charm set against the danger and the crime that make your story so compelling. I didn’t know automatic car starters existed that early and I thought they were for “warming up your car” not like you might need to run fast but because I’m from Minnesota and getting into a cold car is unpleasant. And weren’t the IRA bombing cars in that time period?

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    • Frankly, I don’t remember what the IRA was doing in that era. I lived in a sort of cocoon. Though I don’t think it was the IRA that would have concerned my dad. But maybe they were first created with that in mind. I have NO idea.

      Glad you can appreciate the telling of the story. I think, perhaps, that’ part of what makes my story interesting as well. The fact remains that my dad was such a good guy and bad guy all tied up in one. He was a complicated character.

      Thanks so much for reading.

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      • I guess what I was getting at before the coffee kicked in was that maybe the device was actually invented for that purpose and everything we associate with the device is actually “added value.”

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      • Yes, I suspected that’s what you were getting at. In fact, your comment inspired me to tell my partner, that I really do need to research details like this. I really would be curious to know the purpose for which they were originally intended. I think it’s a fascinating question.

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  9. Growing up our lives were very quiet in a small farming community in central California. Some fond memories were going on vacation to see all the sites California had to offer. Places like Yosemite and the Red Wood forrest, San Simeon, Carmel, San Francisco. Beautiful! We were happy but I can’t say we laughed a lot in our immediate family of 4. But whenever we visited our extended family we laughed A LOT and still do! My first experience with an auto car starter was 4 years ago. We purchased a used mini van that came with a key fob that unlocked the doors and had a couple of other buttons. I looked outside one day and the van was running! I had no idea how that happened. Didn’t know we had an auto start feature and apparently I hit the button on the key fob. I had played the ghost driver trick on myself! LOL!

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    • OMG–that is too funny! Bet you were surprised. But I’m glad to hear you experienced a lot of laughter. I wonder if families that laugh tend to laugh even more when they get together as a larger group. It’s like decades of humor and inside jokes get resurrected? I don’t know. I’m just now thinking this for the first time. I think my siblings and I all laugh more now when we gather as grown-ups.

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      • I think you are right about the larger group laughing more. Maybe because of the more diverse personalities? My immediate family consists of 4 introverts. And, I agree with laughing more now that we are grown-ups. I’m 41 now and married into a very extroverted family. We are in hysterics every time we get together!

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      • Interesting. I’m one of the few introverts in my family, so that may add to the hilarity–the fact that most are extroverts. My partner Sara’s family laughs a lot, as welll–so we have tons of fun. So glad you do, too!

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  10. Incredible writing, as usual, Kathryn. You took me on a journey of many emotions. Taking me back in time with affection, amusement, and humor. And you always manage to teach me something too. I can’t help but wonder with a sweet sort of sadness if you ever feel as if you can’t trust what is right before you….because in your childhood, things were never as simple as they seemed. They was always something more happening. I love your writing and I thank you for sharing your heart with me. xoxo Julia

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    • Oh, Julia, so glad to hear that the writing in this post worked for you. It helps to hear what works and what doesn’t in terms of craft. Most folks don’t comment on that, so thank you! Yes, it is hard to trust what seem to be the facts of a given situation. When I was sickest with bipolar disorder, my doctors always talked about tempering how they thought about my paranoia, given my childhood. In other words, paranoia for me could have been a PTSD response as opposed to a symptom of outright psychosis. Does that make sense?

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      • Absolutely it makes sense. Wow! A smart, intuitive doctor! You are such an incredible woman! My gosh, the view you give to the rest of us. How generous and sensitive and amusing you are…all at the same time. From my seat here on the sofa, I don’t care so much about the accuracy of the details (but this was your life so I understand the obvious importance to you), but I cherish the peek inside of your world and your heart that you allow me. Not remembering perfectly is part of the sorrow and the sadness, as well as the beauty of imperfection. You give a kind and lovely face to a different world. And I thank you. xo

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      • Oh, you are so welcome. I just appreciate the fact that folks want to read. I think I may feel the need to anchor things to specific dates, since I have things like newspaper articles about things like trials, so I try to orient the story about them–try to figure out how it all fit together. So happy this works for you, my friend! Hugs————

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  11. Always love to read your writing, Kathy. When I can’t place dates, I hone in on one of my benchmark dates and generally choose it. Benchmark date–a moment that does have a date attached to it around which other times swirl.

    We can illustrate a time, with no date, by the details you labor over, and I love that, Kathy! Now, take a nap and rest up from all the thinking!

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    • I guess I’m fortunate in some ways that there are things like newspaper articles to help me anchor the dates. And thank God I wrote things down as a kid–and had the sense to save it. My writing was PATHETIC back then, however. I simply recorded the facts at that age. And thank God, from time to time, my mom wrote on the back of a photo what was happening at the time. It just takes time to track down all of the needed details.

      Now, yes, perhaps a nap is in order. Thanks for reading, Laurel. So glad you could appreciate this piece. Your feedback always means so much to me!

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  12. Having read – and been appropriately freaked out by – Stephen King’s Christine, I think a car starting on its own in the late 70s would have had me running, screaming, in the opposite direction.

    I have to say, I love your dad’s sense of humor (even if it was motivated somewhat by self-preservation).

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    • The thing is it never occurred to me that the device was used for security. For us, it was purely a source of fun. I was frankly so surprised when my cousin told me this, I didn’t understand what he was talking about. I said, “What do you mean by “security? What could it have to do with that?” Sara and my cousin looked at me like they couldn’t believe my naivete. And frankly that was so far from my mind for all of these years, it’s still hard for me to imagine.

      But, yes, my dad was a hoot–so, so much fun. Everybody loved him–as far as I could tell.

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  13. Loved this post! I’m definitely chuckling over my coffee and I had no idea remote starters were available in the 70s. Like lisaspiral, I thought it was for warming up your car in the winter. My ’05 Malibu had it and I never grew tired of the novelty of pushing that button and knowing my car would be nice and toasty when it was time to leave for work…so long as I remembered to set the heater fan on high when I parked the night before!

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    • The funny thing is that I myself have never owned a car with an automatic starter. I don’t even have automatic door locks or windows. Sara and I are pretty retro–or stuck in the developing world, perhaps. (LOL) I suppose folks do use them now to warm up their cars, and now that I think of, I think I want one. That would be pretty cool to be able to warm up the car with a touch of a button.

      So glad you enjoyed this post over your coffee. Hope you and Mark have a great day!

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    • How funny that your dad also loved gadgets. And how funny that we called them that back then. We didn’t use the word technology at our house. Maybe you did. So happy you enjoyed this post, my friend. Have a goood day!

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    • Really? You didn’t know? Maybe you have spent enough time in South Africa to have missed them. They are common here in the US these days. Or are you joking?

      Thanks for reading, Heather. Glad you enjoyed the story.

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  14. I don’t think I have ever encountered a remote car starter! I have missed something in my life!!! I had a very ordinary, and happy childhood. We lived at the beach and from my earliest memories I spent all of my spare time on the beach, either in the surf or scouring the beach for whatever was washed up.
    I don’t know whether I have ever told you that the first boy I ever really fell for turned out to be a criminal and I spent some time visiting him in jail, so I do have some experience of life on the other side of the law.

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    • Interesting that you have never encountered one. Maybe they are only common now in the US. I certainly didn’t see them in Vietnam or Haiti.

      Actually, you had mentioned your boyfriend, but only in passing. If we ever get to meet, I would love to know more about that. Not many people have had that experience. I’d also be curious to know what attracted you to him. I assume you didn’t know he was a criminal when you began dating. But what interests me is what makes some male criminals interesting personalities and what attracts folks–especially women–to them. My dad was charismatic, so I suspect that’s what my mom found appealing.

      Thanks for the reminder about your boyfriend. I had forgotten until you mentioned it again.

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      • I am not aware that automatic car starters are even around in Australia. I have never seen one…not here in Italy either.
        I was attracted to my beautiful young man because he looked a bit like Steve McQueen and drove a big motor bike. (I was 17) I didn’t know when I met him that he had criminal tendencies. He was smart, funny, charming and could have done anything he wanted in life, but chose the wrong path….such a shame.

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      • Gosh, it really is a shame. Makes me wonder where he might be these days, what he might be doing.

        Another of my Australian readers has said the same thing, Deb. That’s curious to me. I need to do some research to find if they are exclusive to American-made cars.

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    • I will write on. Thanks for the encouragement. I suppose I did sort of cover a wide range of feelings and behaviors in this post. I think that’s what makes my dad an interesting character. Here I address both my sadness and laughter–but also my father’s fun-loving attitude juxtapossed to his criminal activity. And it’s strange–that only in doing this writing am I beginning to appreciate the spectrum of things he represented. I’m thankful for that.

      Thanks for reading, Laurie. Hope you have a great day!

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  15. Your personal archaeology is fascinating… What a journey to uncover the pieces of the past, connect-the-dots of your own memories with the facts you uncover… I’m glad you’re taking all of us along on the journey. 🙂 Hugs!

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  16. Kathryn, I, too, am currently doing personal archeology. And like you, it’s taking me WAY longer than I had imagined. I’m culling photo albums–scanning and saving some, sending some to relatives and friends, and tossing some. And I, too, kept a journal, so I try to scan that from the time of the photos and integrate them. Not easy!! I’m excerpting the journal and putting the excerpts in a blog that I’ve only told a couple of people about–not my children. Eventually, I’ll probably pull the excerpts together in a book for the children. It’s a good project for retirement!!!
    And good luck on your book. Sounds interesting! Hope it can get a wider audience.

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    • It’s great to hear that you are doing similar work. It really is more time-consuming than I could have ever imagined. I’m curious to hear that it’s taken you longer than expected, as well. I’d love to know how common that experience is.

      My method sounds very similar to yours. I’d love to know more about your efforts. I will check out your blog, if it’s open to the public. Great to hear from you today. Thanks so much for your comment.

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    • How funny. What amuses me now is the fact that having had a dad like I did, I really have very little interest in technology myself. For example, I myself have never owned a car with an automatic starter. DIdn’t even think about that until I started responding to these comments. Thanks for sharing what your experience was like!

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  17. I love that you and your sister didn’t want to miss the adventure and fun of being with your dad for a “ROAD TRIP!”
    And you miss him by knowing he would have loved all of these new “gadgets”. I think you made/make your dad happy. There has to be some joy somewhere out there for those who are gone, who are thought of and missed.

    I enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing. Whatever your dad’s reasons for having the ‘gadget’ installed, he shared the fun of it with you and your sister.

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  18. Piecing together a memoir must be one of the hardest things ever when it comes to writing. It is deeply personal and sometimes there are things that are very hard to discuss. I think it takes a ton of courage so good for you, Kathy! I have lots of fond memories of my childhood. I grew up with wonderful parents and great siblings. We spent tons of time together being outdoors and traveling. I think that has helped make me who I am today.

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  19. That is so funny Kathy! I can imagine those people being scared out of their wits as the car just came to life right next to them. I had no idea that was even available in the late 70s.
    I remember my uncle had the first VCR I’d ever seen in 1980. It was one of those top-loading BETA machines. Too bad they would be obsolete a few years later. 😛

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    • I think we got our VCR in 78 or 79. I will have to look through my diaries to see if I have noted when we got it? Ours was a top-loader, as well. Had forgotten about that detail. So happy to hear you enjoyed this post, Jackie. Thanks!

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  20. Kathy, I am visiting here again. This is sooo funny! You made it safely to this day. Your memoir will be interesting to be sure.
    I had to laugh as I am the gadget person in my family. I was the very first with a cell phone—albeit the old “bag” phone. Was I ever hot with my minivan, phone, and all. Today it’s iPhone, SUV, and iPad in tote for Kindle reading. 🙂
    Peace,
    Alexandria

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    • Great to hear from you, Alexandria. So happy to hear this made you laugh. I am SO not the technology person in my family, it’s sad. So you have both an iPad and Kindle? My partner Sara has an iPad. I have a Kindle–well, two of them actually. An older one and newer Fire. Do you find the iPad is to heavy to hold for reading?

      Thanks so much for stopping by again. I’m heading over to your place now.

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      • I find iPad is great for reading. I turn it so it is portrait view. I have the magnetic iPad cover from Apple and it’s an iPad2 so is lighter. I have a rugged looking Fossil iPad case—pretty inconspicous—and it snugs right in. It’s become my “go to” reader.
        Thanks for your kind remarks on my blog…and for visiting again.

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      • Sara loves reading on hers, as well. Hers in an iPad 2, as well; it just seems a little bukly to me. Maybe because my Kindle is smaller. Who knows.

        And you are more than welcome. I subscribed, as well. Loved what I read.

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  21. I don’t think I have yet encountered one unless you count the commercial with a miniature darth vader. I laugh every time I see it.

    Why is it that the ‘bad’ guys are, a lot of the time, so much fun?

    You’re on the right track. Reclaim the memories one by one. It must be really tough.

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    • Really, you’ve never encountered one? So glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a vehicle with one-but then we con’t have automatic anything–windows, locks, etc. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the commercial–gotta catch that. Is it a car commercial?

      I wish I knew why the bad guys are more fun. Interesting to hear you think that, as well.

      Thanks for reading and suggesting I’m on the right track. Great to hear from you, Christine.

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  22. I am interested in something about your “adventures” with a dad in the mob. I know that you write about his being on vacation when the house was raided, but how frightening that must have been for you to come home to! I can’t imagine how terrified you must have been! And then the times you write about being there when they burst into your home…….My heart aches for the childhood you.

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    • You’re a sweetie, Sista. I don’t remember clearly how it felt. However, I did write about it in my journal the day of that raid. One of these memoir posts includes an entry I wrote about it back then. I was more concerned about the evening news and newspapers the following day–concerned, I think, that kids at school would find out. The person I feel most sorry for now is my paternal grandmother who was there alone when it happened.

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  23. Until reading your post I had no idea that there was such a thing as an automatic car starter much less that it’s existed for 35 years, assuming they still exist (I’m not much of a car person). My father was a bit of a gadget guy, too, though. His gadget was cruise control. This allowed him to set a speed and take his foot off the gas pedal. When we would go places requiring a long stretch of freeway driving, he’d set it at 56 and then we’d get passed by fellow motorists left, right and center. I don’t recall laughing about that but I do recall my brother and I going nuts. The best person that ever passed us was Bing Crosby in his yellow Rolls. Grandma Moses could have probably passed us on foot.

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    • How damn funny, V! Love the Grandma Moses line. But what is also kind of hilarious it that you feel the need to explain what cruise control is. You really aren’t much of a car person, are you? I LOVE it! Your comments are the absolute best! How do you come up with a line like the Grandma Moses one off the top of your head?

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  24. Kathryn, I love how you call your father Inspector Gadget. I used to call mine Mr. A/V, as in audio visual. He had to have the latest in stereo equipment. My father wasn’t on the wrong side of the law, but he was charming, like Ricky Ricardo, but also macho and mean. He could hold a grudge and not speak to you for years. I have my own issues with him, which is a reason I’m working on my memoir. We have much in common, my friend.

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    • How interesting to hear more about your father. And I can’t wait to read your memoir, Monica. Love the Mr. A/V moniker. What a hoot! Guess we do have a lot in common. Now–if only I can follow in your Huffington Post footsteps! Ha, ha!

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  25. Oh Kathy, this is really sweet. I could imagine you and your family laughing as passersby were startled by this new fangled and spooky contraption. 🙂
    I was also touched by you missing your dad. I’ve recently been thinking of my biological parental units, trying to find something which made me smile in my file of memories. Though my Godfather gave me plenty of good times (and TONS OF LAUGHTER), I don’t register fondness of my legal guardians in the same way… I know with my biological father there were none.

    But with my mom, there were. She used to tuck me in every night. She would secure me in my bed as tight as she could and we would tell eachother, “I love you thiiiiiiiiiis much” with our arms outstretched as wide as they would go.

    As for remote car starters… I saw my first one when I was 16. It was in CT, in the middle of winter while everyone was shivering, cursing the cold, one co-worker always walked blissfully out to her car knowing she wouldn’t have to wait for it to heat up. Everyone envied her.

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    • I’m sorry to hear you have no fond memories of your father. That’s got to be tough. I have plenty of bad memories of my dad, but lots of good ones to make up for them. Don’t know that I ever remember my mom tucking me in–though I suppose she must have when I was very little.

      Thanks so much for reading, Currie. You are a dear, my friend!

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  26. I’m a bit naive too. It didn’t occur to me that the car starter was a security precaution until you said so. But I’ll bet it was fun to play with too!

    Fond memories of my parents? My dad was the king of nick-names. Everybody got one, and they were usually nonsensical. Also – he would always let me come sit on his lap and have a sip of his beer. I didn’t even like the taste of it. I just did it because he allowed me.

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    • How sweet, Terri. Nicknames are a fun and creative way to express affection for those we love. And think about–you didn’t grow up to be an alcoholic or anything. Maybe that was the idea. Help you realize early on how bad it tasted.

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  27. I’m new to your stories, so thank you for providing the links at the end.

    My dad was a gadget guy too. He was always trying to get the next best thing in electronics. He would have been absolutely mesmerized if he were alive today to see all of today’s technology. He was also a DIY guy, loved to build–he could do the plumbing, the electricity etc. He often had several projects going at once. So when I think of him, I can picture him with a cigarette, whistling and using his power saw in the garage. He would have loved to go to a Home Depot store, but never got the chance. Thanks for sharing some of your dad, it’s brought up some great memories of mine.

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    • Glad you appreciated the links at the end. You dad sounds pretty cool, too. Isn’t it sad to lose a father? I love it that you thnk about your dad in Home Depot. Sounds a lot like what I’m doing with mine. Thanks for reading!

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  28. These stories are hilarious Kathy. Such a juxtaposition. And how interesting that at that time your Dad was happy to have y`all tagging along when many Dads weren`t really that interested in roadtripping without mom along to manage the kids.

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    • I’m delighted this made you laugh–and I hadn’t even thought about most dads not wanting the kids along. My dad truly seemed to enjoy spending time with us. Guess I was fortunate in that regard. Great to hear from you, dear Emily!

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    • I’m so pleased you enjoyed the story. It really was fun–and my dad loved to laugh. You know, I’m only realizing now that he was just a big kid. Glad you like the end, as well. Thanks for reading, Tori. Great to hear from you this evening.

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  29. Hmm– I never thought about the security aspects of automatic car starters, either. I always figured they were invented specifically for us Canadians– you know, warm up the car in the freezing winters without having to step outside just yet. 😉

    I love all these memoir posts, Kathy. You have such a flair for writing! 🙂

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    • I suspect most folks never thought of it. What normal person ever would? I think they are, indeed, for you poor Canadians who risk freezing your butts off in winter. LOL

      Glad you are enjoying this series–and thanks for reading, my friend.

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  30. Would you believe I still have not encountered an automatic car starter? I’m always so far behind the times. I never would have thought about it as a security measure, either. Around here it’s a means of warming up the car in the winter when the car isn’t in a garage. 🙂

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    • You’ve never seen one and I’ve never owned a car that had one. Oh, well, we’re not missing that much, I suppose. Though given the winters in your part of the world (most winters, maybe not the one just passed), you could probably use one. Thanks for reading, Robin!

      Like

  31. I think what’s so amazing about your memoir writing is the LOVE that pours from your words. So many memoirs are about sadness and anger, and though there is plenty for you to feel that way about, what I take away from your writing the most is your love for your dad, mom, and siblings.

    I think that even if you’re doing a lot of separate memoir entries, most of your blog pieces can be used in a final draft. If you lightly edit the ‘blog-type’ intros and conversational tone at the beginning and done, you’re golden.

    Love this entry!

    Like

    • This may be one of the most lovely things anyone has ever said about any of these memoir posts. I’m so happy the love comes through. I’ve had therapy to help along the way toward loving, but, I think, I tend to be a pretty forgiving person who tries to find the best in people. Neither of my parents was perfect, but they were and are dear to me. Thanks for noticing.

      I also hope you are right about my ability to use these pieces. Yeah, the beginning of this one definitely needs to go, but the rest might be close to okay. Thanks for that feedback.

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  32. Excellent post, Kathy. Very moving. It’s great that you kept a diary while growing up. There’s a lot I don’t remember about my childhood, but then, there is a lot that I do remember and wish I could forget. Anyway, I didn’t keep a diary and I don’t remember laughing much. I think I spent most of my childhood depressed until I discovered alcohol when I was fourteen, then things became fun for a while, but not very productive. Life is an interesting journey, isn’t it.

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    • Life is interesting, indeed. Sorry to hear you didn’t get to laugh much as a child. That makes me sad for you. I appreciate your taking a look at this memoir post, my friend. I’m so happy to hear from you!

      Like

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