It broke my heart to leave her behind. We had worked together, gotten into trouble together, worked things out when things got a bit tricky, and had a lot of fun whenever we headed out. Tensie was her name. She was my 1951 Chevrolet pickup truck, an iconic image of America. Leaving her out of our moving container was just about the hardest thing I did when we left Vermont, well, her and a whole lot of friends and family as well.
Then one day late last summer there was an add on our local internet “find it” list. There was no reason for me to open that ad, but I did. I called Tom over to the computer to look at the trouble I was thinking about getting into and he said, “Well you have to at least give them a call.” For better or worse someone answered right away, his voice was honest and enthusiastic and lured me into coming up to ‘just check out’ what he was offering. Of course there was no hope for me, as the french would say, it was a coup de foudre, a bolt of lightning. For as I pulled into the drive there in front of me was a cheeky, sunny, just rusty enough, happiest car I had ever laid eyes on. I could feel that same quiver that had made me melt when I first met Tensie (yes, and you too, Tom). I had found a new friend. Her name is Lemon Drop. A French icon this time around, a 2CV, deux cheveau, two horses, because that is what she has under the hood.
Here is a short list of some of the similarities of these two classics.
--Both have been said to be just as happy sipping bourbon as gasoline.
--The windows open by hand. One’s rolled down and Two’s flap up.
--You shift the gears by listening to what they are singing or whispering to you. Tensie’s gears were on the column, Lemon Drop’s are sort of floating in midair out of the dashboard.
--It’s important to go as fast as you can down hill so that there is any hope of getting up the other side.
--You can never really go very fast so you never miss something fun.
--Both of them have great big skinny steering wheels that spread your arms far apart sort of like driving wings.
--With their unique suspensions, one rigid and one as loose as a goose, you always know what the roads are like. You are engaged with these machines. It is a zen like meditation getting from one place to another.
--Both these gorgeous icons attract all sorts of new friends that are as bubbly and happy as the tin metal girls themselves.
Because the 2CV was in production longer than almost any other vehicle, ever, most french neighbors have a story. The first one everyone tells is “You know how they ride so funny-- like you’re floating? Well that’s because they were built to carry eggs from the farm to market.”
There are the memories of travels. One woman used her’s to get to school when she didn’t even have a drivers license. This man and his three friends bought one and drove it as far north as they could, swearing to keep going until they ran into Santa Claus. This man paid his way through University by repairing them not in a garage, but right on the curbsides of Paris. Another friend still goes to the African desert every year to race the crazy things.
Tensie is still greatly missed and if I could do it over again she would have been in that dang container. There would be no competition between these two because an icon has confidence and grace and each would just enhance the other’s crazy joie de vivre.