She was a thing of legend.
I have only met Goldie once. I’m looking forward to spending a little more time with her again someday. I get the sense that her time is short. It was a sunny October afternoon on the gravel driveway of Uncle Al’s Texas ranch. I got the sense upon meeting that Uncle Al the he is the type of guy who really takes care of things. Goldie was no exception. She had been a thing of myth and legend till that moment fueled by countless stories from Robyn. When the garage door opened I was thrilled with what I saw.
Standing next to Goldie was intimidating. She was at least 60 years old but time had not taken the toll it has on other cars of her age. Her gold metal flake paint looked no worse for wear and she had suffered very few bumps or bruises. Her chrome had dulled over the years but given a spruce I got the sense that she would have looked almost new. Goldie was a fine specimen.
Robyn, almost intuitively, swun open the passenger door and dove into the cavernous back seat. There was enough room back there for 5 of her. Cars aren’t made this way anymore. So much of the extravagance of the 1970’s has been lost in modern design. In their prime, Lincoln Continentals were cool. Like presidential personal car cool. I hadn’t really understood that until the moment I stood in front of her. Goldie was imposing but graceful. Just looking at her you got the sense this this old gal would fly if given the chance. Then, without warning Uncle Al swun open the drivers door and jumped in with Frances on his lap. This was happening.
At the age of eight years old, Frances was barreling down the road at the helm of a 1975 Lincoln Continental named Goldie. You can’t make this shit up. Everyone’s first time is different and seeing the grin on that girls face was something that I will never forget. Al had clearly been driving these back roads of the ranch for about 1200 years so he knew them like the back of his hand. Still, I couldn’t help but worry, so I just started making photos. I think it’s a mechanism for dealing with stressful situations brought on by a weird home life as a young person, but that’s a story for another time.
We thundered down dirt and gravel roads past unsuspecting cows and the occasional deer. They knew the drill. Stay to the sides of the road whenever possible and you won’t get hurt. Al, taking another drink of his Miller High Life, seems at ease, casualing pointing out the spots where memories were made on the expansive ranch. Al’s stories have stories. Frances might not have known it at the time but her first driving experience is not like the other kids’.
Pulling back into the driveway as the sun got low on the horizon my cheeks ached from laughter and smiles. As we disembarked, I continued to marvel at her. Goldie made me a believer. Her legend was undersold by Robyn’s stories. In this perfect light she continued to glow and the smell of her exhaust was still in the air. I got the sense that she might not be around for much longer. Her long sleek lines were still sharp but her heart had seen better days and long stretches in the garage were wearing on her. Tender loving care can do a lot for a 60 year old machine but in the end Goldie is a fragile beast. I hope to get one last ride before she goes.
This machine has a soul and it came out on the road that day giving one little girl the thrill of a life-time even if it wouldn’t be understood for years to come. This is an example of why I try to keep a camera on me all the time. It’s these spontaneous moments that need to be captured and tucked away for later. This is just one example of why I fell in love with photography.