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As a young boy, I was embarassed about Daddy's old 1934 Chevrolet, but I have long since realized my error.

 

That 1934 Chevrolet
 


Daddy had an old 1934 Chevrolet, which he kept for many years because it was still a good car and money was very scarce. He could have bought a new car but only at the risk of his small family savings, which grew over the years and finally wasn’t small at all.

I knew Daddy was right; his savings was more important than a new car. But how utterly chagrined I was when many of my classmates’ fathers routinely bought new cars every year. I remember our car was four years old, then five years old. The tailor, Buddy Jones’ father, who was not even in the same league as my Daddy, got a new car every year. On the other hand, when the tailor died, he left his family nothing.

The family car was the main status symbol in my little school; my status was, therefore, close to zero because of that old 1934 Chevrolet. It gave me a desire to succeed like nothing else could have. Kids were judged by the cars their family owned. If I had been granted permission to drive the car, what kind of girl could I have gone out with? Certainly none of the pretty ones—they had their eyes on boys from moneyed families who had new cars.

The values were so, so false. Even assuming money was the criterion, the families I knew who pretended to have money were just that, pretenders. My father’s last will and testament to his family turned out to be greater, money-wise, than that of any of the pretenders.

The false values of the time had a profound affect on my life. It is the reason I was content to work after school at the newspaper and didn’t have time for a social life. I would wait my time until I had proved myself and could enter society at the level where I felt I belonged.

I despised people pretending to be better than me because they might have a new car. I resolved that I would reach a status where nobody could ever say they were better than me, economically or socially. However, I also resolved never to look down on anyone else. True values come through education. I went for that for the rest of my life.

To this day I find it repugnant when some person adopts a phony title of nobility and pretends to be better than other people. I respect family tradition and honest nobility titles, but the families who flaunt titles are most often fraudulent.

 



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