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  • Writer's pictureThomas Lawrence Toscano

Family Car!

Yes, the family car. I'm not sure about today, however, back when we were all kids the family care was not only a big deal transportation wise, it was also very significant socially speaking.

How much time was spent in the family car? How many memories. People giving opinions about cars, which cars were better, colors, models, comments (how could they choose that color!) In our family, there was another incentive or ingredient to the mix, my grandfather, was a master mechanic for Buick so, Buick's were the unspoken reality of purchase. Upon the occasion of my birth, Gaetano Toscano drove a baby blue 1952 Buick convertible off the showroom floor all to celebrate his first grandson. I have very faint memories of that car, mostly the interior. This car above is another one of my first memories, I remember Frank, above, sleeping in that space behind the back seat in the window. My grandfather, Francesco Mazzoni had a Black 1958 Buick Super, my mother's first car was a 1961 Brown Invicta, which became my first car in 1968, not sure. My grandmother Rose, had a Buick Skylark, it was a bit smaller car by then. These cars were a staple in our family, for obvious reasons. So partisan was I that I remember two things distinguished them and us. They owned a Buick, they were Roman Catholic. I remember "special feelings" for anyone that had a car like ours and also, when I found out that my favorite actor - that week - was catholic. Not like that any more!

I also remember fondly how puzzled I was at family gatherings when my dear Uncle Dick and Aunt Mae, drove up in a Chrysler! (Chrysler?). My cousin Teresa, their daughter, also had a Chrysler, push button transmission, BUTTONS?, and I remember the rear view mirror on the dashboard. Just couldn't fathom how they could not own a Buick. Allow me to say here, that I so loved my Uncle Dick and my Aunt Mae. I loved spending time with them, and Aunt Mae would make me ham sandwiches with butter. Thank you Aunt Mae! She was always laughing, such a beautiful soul.

I remember being partial to whitewalls for a very long time. Look behind me in the picture, I"m the taller of the two, my partner is my brother Frankie. You can almost see his mind plotting - "hmmmm, what can I do next to delight myself?" He was always taking things apart. I remember once he took the faucet in the bathroom apart, that cause a bit of an uproar, picture my mother yelling at Frankie and my Father simultaneously, one with "what did you do?" and the other with "Hurry up and fix what YOUR son did!". Oh, yes, the clothes, pretty much any of the clothes that you see us wearing at this time were made by my grandmother Francesca. Seamstress, dress designer extraordinaire. So profound was her talent, that she could replicate anything - see a dress on a magazine cover, she made her own patter and reproduced the dress. She wasn't taught how to write, in her home town of Vizzini, but, she was a genius - verified by her life's work - in making clothes.

Well, what this is all about, really.

Back in February, my father's car - a 2005 Audi A4 with a 2.0Liter Turbo Engine had the check engine light come on. I didn't understand what it was all about, but, I knew that when such things happen in an Audi you don't fool with it. I checked the oil which was perfect, and let it go at that. I used my jeep and let the Audi rest for some time. There was a great deal of cold weather so, working on the car wasn't that easy a prospect and it all worked out. I went to the Audi forum and asked questions, brought the car down to our local parts store and had them check the error. It turned out to be a camshaft sensor error. I read up on it and discovered that I could easily change the part, but, again, left it for a warmer day. I would start the car every 3 or 4 days or so, and continued to research. I found, after about 3 weeks, that the engine started to make much more noise, coming from the backside and that's when I discovered that the timing chain (no not a belt) had to be changed. I found a video on line actually it's in 4 parts, explaining in detail how to make this repair. It seemed very doable, although challenging and I continued to let the car sit.

After a bit I decided to talk to my mechanic, Tom Haskins and then Andy and Pete both excellent mechanics at our local Citgo on Main St. Both Andy and Pete told me they wouldn't do the repair. Too complicated, that I'd have to take it to Audi or talk to another shop. I left it alone for the time being, storing away the information. Again I let it sit.

April came, big changes, and hip surgery 1, and I had to move and store the Audi. So, I did, putting it in one of my friends' open covered spaces on their 18th century farm ( its been in their family that long). Much to my delight when I went to start the Audi 3 months later - it started immediately. I took it out of the enclosed space, and left it on the pasture. It still ran, but, the sound was still there. After 3 days of airing it out etc. the check engine light stopped alerting me and the sound changed a bit. Again, I'd run it a bit every other day. One day I drove it around the farm's dirt roads, no problems, just that sound. I considered and debated within and couldn't come to a decision. UGH! It was hard. So many different opinions in my head and I didn't want to let go of the car. Finally, one of my A angels, helped me out by guiding me to understand that this was not only about the car. It was about my parents. About letting them go, about giving up the "family car".

This was my father's car! A car that I had inherited in 2015 when he died and reluctantly took possession thereof. I used it to take care of my mother traveling back and forth to CT every 2 weeks. In the 4 years I owned it I put on about 25,000 miles, not a great deal. Now I really had to face something! I had to let go, I had to let them be, I had to say goodby again. And, so I began. Still I heard the arguments, the differing opinions, still I negotiated with myself fantasizing about fixing it, but, frankly the parts alone and specialty tools were $800. If I was in a different position financially I would have probably set out to fix it. But, every where I turned it became obvious, ...the car has done it's job, let it go... and so had my parents. OK, decision made, but, still I dragged my feet. Then, I woke up yesterday. Found myself at our local junkyard, asked what he'd give me. It was more than my mechanic friends had suggested I could get and "sold" came out of my mouth.

I went to Susan and Dave's farm, where the Audi was enjoying itself next to a large barn...started it in and took a last drive. Brought it to Leblanc's, handed over papers, removed license plates and all items, some my parents, some mine, received a check and it was done. I thanked the car, Enzo, and thanked my parents as I drove home relieved and feeling that a shift had taken place.

Thanks Dad for giving me your car. I loved driving it around and can attest to what a great car this is. 278,000 miles. I fixed the trunk problem and the windshield wiper fluid motor problem, but, just couldn't fix the timing chain. Impractical and way to many issues to get there. It was time. Trust that you and Mom are having fun. Be well. See ya!

Thank you all for being with me. Thomas

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