The Dodge Aspen. I remember being so excited to finally have one of those cars I’d only seen advertised in the back pages of National Geographic, minus the stylish exterior wood paneling of course. “This was a car that would turn some heads,” I remember thinking when it arrived in our driveway.
As memory serves, the only head turning this car brought us was when we pulled into the parking lot of St. Vincent de Paul church for Sunday mass. By the time the Aspen was in full service to the family, we had expanded our ranks, adding two new siblings to the fold and thus needed the larger troop transport.
Throughout my childhood and well into my adult years, my parents played on-again off-again roles as musicians in our church, playing for regular weekly services and acting as occasional choir directors. Our five passenger automobile became the Christian equivalent to a VW hippy van. And much like those peace and love flower children of the 60’s arriving at music festivals ready for an extended stay and a weekend of music, dance, and drug influenced philosophy, we’d pull into the church parking lot, our ride stuffed to the brim with music gear, instruments, song books, and a baby bag piled on top of four God-fearing kids. And our drug was the Holy Spirit (affects may vary).
I’m not sure why my memories of this car are so intertwined with those of my childhood Sunday mornings but for some reason, the two seem to go hand in hand.
As I hoped, this car definitely turned some heads and at times, we must have appeared to be traveling in some sort of Christian clown car. I’ve since chalked the whole thing up as a character building exercise and thankfully, we all passed with flying colors.
The Aspen remained in service to the Carters for quite some time if I recall correctly. But sitting here now typing my recollections, I’m not having much luck resurrecting memories besides the few I already mentioned. I guess it didn’t make much of an impression on me as I entered into my double digit years. My mind must have been elsewhere, drifting towards more fascinating interests like BB guns, biking, and trying to find the best fishing hole around.