Family Matters


Family Matters

Saturdays Lost: Revisiting a Bittersweet Ritual

By Richard Holloway

November/December 2015


Browsing at a bookstore, I pick up a glossy car magazine, drawn in by a photo of a pristine example of England’s finest racing machine: the Jaguar XK150. The grill is different from the 120, the wheels, too. Whitewalls are on both, but wire wheels were gone by ’57. Who on Earth would care about such an obscure detail? I know who.

My father was more interested in cars than people. Cars we could always discuss, but other kinds of conversation were much more difficult. He was raised in poverty in rural Colorado by parents who expected him to try panning for silver to supplement the family income when he was only 14. In his eyes, I was a spoiled child of privilege—privilege he’d created, by the way—attracted to the foolish luxury of pursuing a career in theater. When I quit a custodial job at a factory to play the lead in On the Town at a local dinner theater, he got angry, ignored me for weeks, and refused to see the production. According to him, serious people didn’t act in plays. I agonized over his disapproval, frequently avoiding communication after I left home to try my hand at a career in performance, and then writing him contentious letters, filled with my grievances with him, as well as the war in Vietnam, with the sole purpose of creating an oppositional front. Rarely did he respond.

Cars were our only common ground—a subject I learned about from him by spending hours at his side underneath the chassis of his prized Jaguar. Despite my resentment…

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