Shasta (from: on writing right brain and DANCING PENCILS)

To be launched by the 28th of February 2018 at NSA KZN Gallery

My father had no desire to hold a steering wheel in his hands but I did. On top of that I dreamt of owning a convertible sports car. I was nineteen years old when I got my driving licence. 

“My father had no desire to hold a steering wheel in his hands but I did.”~Felicity Keats

In accounting, I had come across depreciation. On checking the newspapers I found a car for sale – an open car with a hood. It was a 1933 model and exactly the same age as I. It was not exactly a convertible sports car but near enough. The selling price was sixty pounds and I had enough savings to pay for it. It couldn’t depreciate lower, I thought. I never imagined that it would one day appreciate. 
I cajoled my cousin, Richard Orbin, into coming with me to test it out. It was an Austin 12 two seat Tourer with a dicky seat and hood. 

Richard opened the bonnet, looked at the engine, kicked the tyres, got in and started the car. He proclaimed it sound. I paid the sixty pounds, omitting to cognise that the salesman of the car was a Scotsman – who are notoriously thrifty.
I drove the car home that afternoon, noting that the petrol gauge said the tank was almost full. Along Sydney Road, just as the men were coming out of the factories, the car cut out. I was young and pretty in those days, so there were many young men swarming around to help. They opened the bonnet, fiddled with the accelerator, pushed the car along the road with me in it, but still it didn’t start. 
Then one idle young man whom I happened to know, leaning against the back of the car, pushed an umbrella handle down the petrol tank. When he pulled it out, he had the solution. The car had run out of petrol. I was later to find that the car had a hole in the petrol tank; one gallon off empty. 
As a partial solution it did have an electric connection that started ticking just before the car ran out of petrol, much like the crocodile in the Peter Pan and Wendy story. This gave me one mile to get to a petrol station.
My father named her Shasta. Sh’as to have petrol, Sh’as to have oil and Sh’as to be pushed. There were many quirks to discover about my beloved car which incidentally is still in the family. Mostly I travelled by train as the car was expensive on petrol and didn’t lock. I found that by taking off the distributor cap I could deter theft, but it was an open car without side windows. It also didn’t have windscreen wipers. 
This I solved by keeping a potato and a knife in the cubby hole. With the first drop of rain, I pulled to the side of the road, stopped, cut the potato in half, and wiped it down the outside of the windscreen. It worked like a charm. The rain fell in a clean sheet and I could see perfectly through the windscreen. 
When I got married, three years later, my new husband and I went off to the Drakensberg on honeymoon in Shasta. It took us two days to get there as its maximum speed was forty miles per hour.

 

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