Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Green 1964 Chevy Impala - Cars For 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History

Photo by Roys World
My first car! What warm memories it brings back! It was a green, 1964, Chevrolet Impala with four doors. The way I got this card was actually rather sad. It belonged to my grandparents and after they passed away, my parents let me drive it. So while this 16-year-old was very excited to have a car. It was also tinged with sorrow.

The Impala only had about 12,000 miles and was in mint condition. Since it came from Eastern Washington, where got hot in the summer, my grandparents had installed an air conditioner. That was a big plus and rare on vehicles in Western Washington in the mid to late 1970s. I also remember it had an AM/FM radio which I loved. My parents' cars only had AM radios.

I came into this car at the end of my sophomore year in high school, after spending the entire year in humiliation riding the bus to school. Oh, the freedom that car brought me! I was able to drive to work after school, attend after school events, and meet up with my friends at Herfy's for an evening snack or milkshake.

At one point we boarded one of my horses over in Woodinville. This required driving on Interstate 405, nearly every day so that I could go exercise him. I can remember my mom being very reluctant to allow me to drive on the freeway alone. So when she finally gave me the go ahead, I was incredibly excited. More freedom!

Having a car to drive also brought responsibilities like running errands for Mom and taking a sibling places. Like most teenagers, I was often happy to oblige her. She did keep tabs on me though. I can remember one summer when my parents went out of town for a few days, Mom wrote down the mileage on the odometer to make sure I didn't do too much driving while they were gone. I thought I had the perfect workaround. I figured if I put the car in reverse and drove backwards for a while it would run the miles back down. We tried this on our back road, but discovered, much to our chagrin that the miles on the odometer just kept going up!

My senior year in high school, I was on the yearbook staff. One of the responsibilities of every staff member was to bring in ads for the yearbook. Nobody really wanted to do this. But there was one perk. Mr. Fortin, the yearbook teacher, would give his students a pass to leave campus and try to procure yearbook adds. My friends and I took advantage of the opportunity to leave campus during the school day whenever we could. We spent a lot of time going to Herfy's for lunch, down to the beach at Picnic Point, and Haine's Wharf, among other local destinations. We managed to stay out of trouble for effectively playing hooky by actually obtaining more yearbook ads than anybody else on the yearbook staff. Oh, the fun we had on those rare beautiful sunny Pacific Northwest winter and spring days!

After graduating from high school, I went off to college and was not allowed to take a car with me. The green Chevy Impala was passed down to the next sibling in the family and I'm sure there's a lot more stories to be had there.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. What a huge beauty compared to us in the UK! I'm not surprised it was tinged with sadness about your grandparents, but a fab car all the same - the freedom aspect was the big deal in our teenage years :-) Jo

  2. Sweet ride.

    I had to laugh at this post because I was on the yearbook staff at my school too, and we did the same escape trick.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'll have to cite your example to my older daughter, who does not want to let little sister "inherit" "her" car!

  4. This looks like it could be the first or second year after the Impala 'wings'. Our family were Chevy people. We also had a model with wings and a (63-65) model without.

  5. Having a car does give you a sense of freedom, right? I can imagine the excitement you felt when you finally realized you could go wherever the four wheels of the car could take you. But along with the freedom was the responsibility to take good care of it because it’s yours to keep. The memories that you have shared with your car must have been blissful for you to write about it now. Is it still running? I hope it is! I’d love to see it!