Ah, the old family wagon. To be precise, our 1957 Chevy wagon. If memory serves, this is the car in whose door I got my finger slammed when I was very young, a few years after this photo was taken in front of our house at 1653 106th Avenue SE in Bellevue.
This is Easter Sunday, 1963. Dad (Willard Fleagle) is 32 years old here, Jeni is pushing three. I’m one and a few days. Mom (Barbara Fleagle), at a youthful 27, was probably behind the camera. The Chevy is a half decade old. What I remember most about this car is my sister and I calling the cargo area behind the back seat the “very back”. We used to run out to the car and claim the very back for the long drive south to Mount Rainier. In those days you let your kids bounce around in the car like basketballs. There was no such thing as a five-point harness — there were barely such things as astronauts. I think my memory of trips in the family car has congealed and settled over the years into a picture of untarnished Elysian sweetness, a picture incompatible with the reality that I was usually complaining loudly about one discomfort or another; either I had a migraine brought on by motion combined with the smoke from my dad’s Camels angled in the ashtray, or I had to go to the bathroom bad, or both.
Some years ago, a neighbor lady named Mary Anne, who lived across 106th the entire time that my folks lived on that street, told my brother that she remembered the day my mother and father first drove up to the house they would live in for the next 47 years. She looked across and saw my dad lifting Jeni out of the car and into his arms, in exactly the same spot and in the same way he’s holding me here. -mdf
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Written on back:
“Easter Sunday, 1963
Bill, Jeni, Matt”