Where did the old wagons go? They apparently dissolved away, lost into ether (rust more precisely), for finding one is awfully hard. Look on the streets, or the Cohort, and rarely any ever appear. And Chevy wagons? Sidewalk evidence would suggest they never existed. But exist they did, in large numbers. And when a good one appears, memories return.
As a US territory, Puerto Rico was a captive market for US brands (Plaza de las Americas Mall above). And Puerto Ricans cherished their American brands, with late ’60s Chevys still common even in my teen years during the late ’80s. Wagons were part of all this of course, and all got the same use they did in the mainland; they were dependable family haulers.
And the one I remember most is the one my girlfriend’s sister drove in those days; a late ’60s Chevrolet wagon (Caprice? Bel Air?), in semi-beater condition.
My girlfriend and I would sit, talking in the house’s porch while her nephews roamed around misbehaving. The afternoon heat was generally stifling (the tropics!), and a drunkard friend of hers would come talk to us from time to time, to exchange some gossip or other, right there in the porch. If I stayed long, sometime around 4pm, the old Chevy wagon would appear, driving slowly into the street with her sister at the wheel, and her two daughters in the back. The ole’ Chevy would stop in front of the house, idling away, and both sisters would start to chat. Loudly; as we remained in the porch, and her sister in the wagon:
- How are those two in the back behaving?
- You know how kids are… They’re a couple of brats!
I wouldn’t know it from where I sat. The girls seemed fairly well behaved, as they sat quietly, not roaming much around (no seatbelts). These kinds of street exchanges were rather common in the island, and a bit exotic to my more ‘proper’ Salvadorian upbringing. The island was -and remains- a rather fascinating place in my mind.
Not that I remember the little girls much; the sister’s image lingers more in my mind. She was vivacious, outgoing and the family’s anchor. Should anything go wrong, she -and the old Chevy- would spring to action, to sort out the multiple minor emergencies the whole family had a knack for.
After a few minutes, the talk would finish. The old wagon would back away, slowly, and get lost after turning the street’s corner.
So where have all those wagons gone? Memories apparently. Not that it’s such a bad fate, as long as they’re fond ones.
Images from the Cohort by MoparMatt15224, shot in PA back in 2015. Hard to read the For Sale sign, but seems to say it has a 283 engine, with Powerglide.