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Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Vintage Kind of Family

This Saturday (April 2), Bellingrath Gardens will host the 18th Annual Camellia Classic Open Car Show. I am almost too excited for words! I think it's genetic.

My grandma collects antique Avon bottles and other knick-knacks. My mom has a great collection of World War II memorabilia. I've been working on an antique thimble collection since childhood. And then there's my dad. He collects everything from vintage typewriters and cash registers to antique fire extinguishers and furniture. When I had friends over as a teenager, they would compare our house to Cracker Barrel, with its walls covered in random vintage items, including snowshoes and a gun. 

I have mixed memories regarding Daddy's vintage vehicles. To be honest, I can't quite remember which one came first. At one point, he was the proud owner of a 1955 Chevrolet pickup. I didn't care for it much then. It wasn't in the best shape; but, thinking back, it had some lovely curves. Then there was the Mercedes-Benz. She was a cream-colored convertible from the mid-'60s, and from the beginning, I was in love. Years away from legal driving age, I would dream that she would one day be mine. And then Daddy sold her. I had invited a friend to a sleepover, and in the morning, when her parents arrived to retrieve her, they too fell in love with the Benz. Apparently, she wasn't worth saving, and Daddy made a nice little profit. Years later, I heard that the new owner backed over the Benz with her Chevy Suburban. It's tragic, really. It took while to get over the loss, but my fascination with classic cars and trucks continues. 

I've been fortunate enough to fall in love with and marry a man who's also genetically predisposed to classic cars. His parents are active members of the Mobile Bay Mustang Club, the group that sponsors the Camellia Classic year after year. They own a '66 convertible, while their other son recently inherited a '66 coupe. It's all in the family. 

On its own, Bellingrath Gardens is an attraction worth seeing. This time of year, the azaleas are in full bloom alongside Easter lilies, hydrangeas, marigolds, salvia, fuschia, impatiens, delphiniums, geraniums and more. Bellingrath's natural beauty, paired with hundreds of vintage vehicles, makes the Camellia Classic an event for all, and one that I look forward to all year. Plus, proceeds from the show benefit the Bay Area Food Bank. Bring a canned good to receive $1 off admission.

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