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Midlife Awakening
When my mother and father began their divorce in 1969, I had just turned 13. It was a crazy time for the entire family, but especially so for my mother. She was cresting 40 by that point and my father had left us all for a waitress down at his favorite watering hole. All told, my mother was a wreck for the next year but managed to take care of me, my two brothers, and my sister while working a job for the first time in her life.

“Come on, get your shoes on--we're going shopping,” my mother said to me after coming home from work about a year after the divorce. I was maybe expecting a trip to the store to buy some clothes or something. I knew she was waiting on her tax check so I figured it must have come in. It had--but we didn't go to any clothing store.

When my mother turned our dilapidated Studebaker into the Pontiac dealership, my heart skipped at least a beat or two. I was positively stunned when she walked over to the new Trans Ams being offered by Pontiac that year to the public (Pontiac actually began production of the Trans Am in 1969 but only in limited numbers and only for racing purposes).

She had set her sights upon a white Trans Am with blue accent lines and a dark blue interior. With both front and rear spoilers and a ram scooped hood, that car was positively a sight to behold in 1970. Two days later and with my brothers and sisters in the back seat, my mother took off with that Trans Am out of the car lot with 400 cubic inches under the hood and the willingness to use each and every one of them. My Uncle Frank followed behind with his '68 Charger.

If there is one thing I will never forget about my mom's Trans Am it would have to be its sheer power. Detroit was at its height and turning out cars with more and more horsepower while making them lighter and lighter. With so much power, it was nothing to have a car going sideways if you mashed down the accelerator and didn't know what you were doing. Luckily, this was no problem for dear old Mom.

No, Mom burned rubber out of that dealership and she and my uncle raced up and down our hometown in Indiana. Today, with cell phones and a less tolerant society, those two wouldn't have been able to tear butt through town for more than 5 minutes before the cops were on them. But back then, they got away with it for almost 10 minutes before we were pulled over.

The officer that corralled my mother and uncle that day seemed surprised to find my mother behind the wheel--but he was downright mad when he saw me and my brothers and sister. “What do you think you’re doing driving like that? Do you know that you two were doing over 100?”

Now this story would have no doubt ended badly for my mother had two things not been in her favor: First, she was a very attractive woman. Second, the times were very different. But, she and Uncle Frank managed to drive off with only a couple of tickets. Unfortunately, she sold the car a month later and it seemed as though her midlife crisis had passed. She settled down again and married a great man who treated her well to the end of her days. As for me, I purchased a 1970-1/2 Trans Am 15 years later. I still have it to this very day and I can't help but think of Mom as I tear butt with it through town every now and then.

Paul Tamaro
Shelton, CT
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