One aspect which continuously fascinates me about this hobby is that everyone always has a VW story to share. No matter where I go with an old VW, people are constantly coming over and starting up conversations about my VW. More often than not it ends with the person telling me about their special VW experience or the fond memories of time spent in and around someone else’s VW. Be it a tale about their parent’s, boy/girlfriend’s, neighbor’s, relative’s car; their first car; of how their fateful rust bucket never failed them; or some other type of story, it has always intrigued me that so many people have been affected by VWs and that everyone seems very willing to share the experience. I know few other brands/models of automobile that generate such a strong sense of nostalgia among so many people.Now here is what I noticed about VW stories: not one of them is without trial and tribulation. No one has ever told me, “ya, I loved my VW because it always started easily” or “had great heat.” The stories I tend to hear concern the fact that the little bugger gave them fits and headaches at times but not necessarily to the point of stranding the owner on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. From water shooting through rust holes in the floor, to scraping the frost off the INSIDE of the windshield, to accelerating by sticking one’s arm out the driver window and pulling a piece a string running to the carburetor because the pedal no longer worked, these stories tend to be part the little engine that could, part comedy of errors, and part train wreck all rolled into one.
A week ago we took a weekend trip to Williamsburg, VA; a very pleasant historical town, preserved as a living history representation of America’s colonial era. While walking around investigating the town’s Market Square, which is nothing more than a collection of little shops and souvenir merchants, we managed to find a small used bookstore stuffed into the basement under a gourmet grocery store. Bookstores in general are among my favorite types of shops but used bookstores are particularly special because they always contain long lost titles, interesting rarities, and, my favorite, old books, which carry within them a smell and feel unmatched by any new and certainly any electronic book. I always, if they have one, wander through the car section. This particular store had one 3-foot wide shelf of various car related books but within that small space lurked an interesting book compiling stories concerning the VW Beetle titled “My Bug”. These are not stories about Beetle production history or mechanical complexities but rather approximately 100 stories derived from the nostalgia of beetle ownership. What interested me most about this book is that it seems to hold true to the nature of VW stories in that they were not the “remember the day I got a shiny new beetle?” but rather the “remember the dark, cold, stormy night I crawled through 4 inches of muddy water to short out the starter so we could drive home?” variety. I intend to update this post when I finish reading and see if that impression holds true.
As I stood near the bookstore’s counter, waiting for the proprietor of the establishment to determine my total cost, he, of course, begins to tell me his VW bug stories. It struck me at that moment that I did not even need to be in or around my bus in order to coax this type of story out of someone and listened intently as he told me how he almost bought a late 60’s bug a few weeks ago. As the conversation continued, he offhandedly remarked that they might have a book of VW related cartoons in the comedy section and before I knew it, both he and his wife were searching high and low to help me discover its hidden location. Eventually we tracked it down, and since they put forth a considerable effort to help me find the book, I felt I could not walk away without it; or at least that is my excuse for making the purchase anyway. It turns out this second book is a collection of cartoons by various artists/authors put together buy VWoA and handed out by dealerships around 1967. This cartoon book is a nice addition to my rather small VW literature collection because it makes a nice companion for another very similar cartoon book I own. Other than serving as dealership promotions, I know very little about either book and any information would be greatly appreciated.