of Communications faculty member Anthony Hatcher wrote an op-ed
piece that appeared in the May 7 edition of the Durham Herald-Sun.
will Mom do without an Oldsmobile?" the column recalled the various
Oldsmobile vehicles his family owned throughout his childhood. It
was inspired by GM's recent announcement that it will discontinue
the Oldsmobile line.
Here's a sampling
of the column:
requested only one option when she ordered her new 1972 Oldsmobile
Delta 88 Royale: it had to be red. And red it was, from stem to
stern, including the bumpers and the grill.
The ship metaphor
is appropriate, for even by today's SUV standards, this was a huge
vessel. Six adults could ride in comfort in her cloth bench seats,
shoulders barely touching. Children could lie down in the back with
pillow and comforter with room to spare.
I rode with
Mom in her white 1966 Delta 88 to pick up the new Olds. I was 15,
and reluctant to give up the old one, hoping I would get it. The
1966 Olds had a 455-cubic-inch V-8 engine that would snap one's
neck back when the accelerator was depressed quickly. I loved it
I recall taking
the eight-mile journey with Mom from Kenansville to Warsaw in eastern
North Carolina to pick up the new red beast. We crossed the railroad
tracks beside Warsaw Motor Company and saw several cars parked in
a dirt lot. Only one was fire engine red ...
A smaller V-8
was beneath that red hood, but she was still potent enough to propel
us down the road at dangerous speeds. Mom was and is a sensible
driver, though, and the new car not so much rolled as floated along
weren't called freeway cruisers for nothing. Mom held on to that
car for 13 years until she bought another white Delta 88 in 1985.
This one also gleamed, not only from the paint, but also from the
miles of chrome on the front, back, sides and even the hood ornament.
She traded that one in 1996 for an Olds Cutlass Supreme.
Now that the
Oldsmobile nameplate is retired, I don't know what her next car
will be. Perhaps one of those 2004 Aleros that finished up the 103-year-old
Olds legacy last week.
As for me,
I drove my little Dodge to high school and then to college, relinquishing
it after my freshman year ended in 1976. I had put roughly 120,000
miles on it in three years, and it couldn't take much more. My uncle
the car wheeler-dealer then found me my dream car - a four-year-old
1972 Oldsmobile Delta 88.
The Olds was
dark gray with a black vinyl roof, black vinyl seats, and a black
interior, including the dashboard. It looked like the family car
that follows the hearse to the graveyard. I thought it was beautiful
I have owned
about a dozen cars over the years, and I still miss the ride and
room of a large Oldsmobile. My Olds was lower to the ground than
those giant SUVs, and it got better gas mileage. In an era when
every make and model of car is designed in a wind tunnel and shaped
like an egg,
I will miss
the distinctive styling of a square, boxy Oldsmobile. No teenager
should be allowed to grow up without owning at least one.