Just a Sunday in Papa’s Automobile
At noon, one Sunday morning we’d hear keys opening our apartment door. In would come Papa with bags brimmed with Sundays’ special breakfast. (I don’t think we called it “Brunch“, then). Bagels, lox, white fish chubs, (we kids called goldfish) sturgeon, baked salmon, and pickled herring. Of course, cream cheese. Then out of the refrigerator would appear thin sliced tomatoes and onions, topped with black glistening olives.
Oh boy, did we feast! Was it a wonder we were never a svelte clan!
After such a gorging, Sam Diamond, his wife, Rose, my older sister Sondra, my younger, bratty brother Teddy and I set out for the day’s next entertainment.
We would race each other to get whatever we thought was the best of the seat, in the back space of our cramped 1937 Buick. It was then bickering would begin. None of us liked what we got, and certainly not each other. The old car took a while to warm up. Without any mechanical finesse, my father would tear the gears brutally, and off we’d go. He’d whip the automobile up to 20 mph. If he’d accidentally accelerate to 21mph, my mother would shout, “Sam you’re speeding.”
“Be quiet, Shlock”, He would answer back. All this time we in the back bickered continuously. We’d spot a red light ahead and all of this car’s occupants would brace for what laid ahead. For it was my father’s habit (being the smooth operator he was), to accelerate his car to the light then …slam on the brakes. All of us would then be thrown forward, then back… fast. We all had black and blue marks and bumped heads throughout our childhood.
Let me say bluntly Papa had “no sense of direction”. Stubborn he made a point, to never to ask for directions, because he always thought he knew where he was going!
On this particular Sunday he created, as usual, havoc on the highway traffic. The family was in route to Highland Park, in Brooklyn. As always, he wove in, and out of lanes .The fast lane where he didn’t belong was his choice venue.
Wandering over designated lines defining each lane was how he navigated.
He was oblivious to the horns of his fellow drivers. Abruptly from the fast lane my father, without signals to the other cars, (or us), turned sharply off the highway.
“Sam, where are you going? I don’t remember going to the park this way,” my mother shouts to her husband
“Shlock be quiet!”, he yells back. “It’s a shortcut!” “Looks like a sidewalk to me,” She shoots back. This doesn’t stop him from continuing on his set course. It was difficult to believe this normally tranquil man could turn into such a tyrant. All it took was the power of his automobile key, to crown him “King of The Road”!
There was silence from the back of the Buick, even we stopped baiting and poking and pinching each other. The dialogue from the front sounded scary, even to us. (Remember this driver only looked like our Papa, but didn’t act like him).
With self-confidence, he continued on his chosen path even as it grew narrower, and narrower. He only stopped the car, when it got stuck. By this time my mother was fainting. This was the situation;
The roundish hump of 1937 model Buick, filled with a screaming frantic family, was wedged against a link fence, surrounding the reservoir. Beside us was a steep ravine leading to the six- lane fast moving highway.
“The children! The children! We’ll all drown, “my mother wailed helplessly.
Her husband was no longer so sure of himself. The prevailing sentiment from the back was that we were really in trouble… this time! The fact that Mama started crying and Papa was not yelling, “Shlock be quiet!” seemed to do it. The obvious absence of anyone nearby to witness or rescue us further added to our distress.
Then my mother commanded,” Do not shake the car — do not shake the car!”
It must have been an hour, when a reservoir guard, on routine foot patrol, spotted our car blocking his path.
“B-B But how, or why did you get here,” The guard asked, taking off his uniform hat and scratching his shocked head. From the backseat of the teetering Buick we” tattle-tails” sobbed vehemently,
“Papa was taking one of his short cuts, Mom told him to turn back, but he would not listen!”
It took a radioed police tow to very delicately pry the Diamondss’, and their vehicle free. Another lovely Sunday afternoon drive…but this time we made The Daily News!