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A Childhood in Cars

AP Photo/David Goldman

Joshua James Amberson | Everyday Mythologies | Two Plum Press | November 2018 | 21 minutes (4,278 words)


We became a cars-on-blocks house when I was eight years old. My mom and I lived at the bottom of a hill, in a trailer, on five acres of mostly-wooded land outside of Snohomish, Washington. We owned ten cars. Six of them more-or-less worked. Three were for parts and one—the shell of an early ’60s Ford Falcon—had come with the land.

Vehicles were, in large part, what people in Snohomish spent their money on. Kevin, my mom’s boyfriend, lived in a barely functional shack down a ravine but had a couple of cars, a work truck, and an assortment of half-working motorcycles. This was typical. My mom and Kevin’s friends generally lived in trailers, modular homes, or compact ranch-style houses and owned a broad array of vehicles in various states of disorder. While one car sitting on blocks, waiting to be fixed or salvaged for parts, was barely noticeable within this landscape, having a few felt different.

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