The Olds was long and broad and wonderful with enough power to tame a continent, which is how mild-mannered Jerry fancied himself the first time he got behind the wheel with a leering salesman at his side--a conquistador at the reins of 200 horses ready to trample his way to glory over the land of opportunity. If he'd come to America ten years sooner he would've bought a Hudson or DeSoto, cars named for European mercenaries who by dint of greed and hubris became the first exemplars of the American way: murder, rape and plunder in the interest of opening new markets for the merchants and monarchs who financed their forays.
Jerry himself was not violent or greedy, but he couldn't help feel as if he were standing on the prow of history as it drove headlong heedless of wind or wave, a surge of pride, a glorious sense of accomplishment when he gripped the wheel, the engine idling throaty and seductive with unlimited power potential under him, sentiments which were echoed by most Americans in those heady space days when muscle cars and rocket ships allayed any doubts about the technological and moral superiority of the United States instilled by the previous summer of riots, assassinations, and protests which history would remember as "The Summer of Love."
They sat in the powerful red car in the driveway, Jerry and my mother, he guessing at how everything worked without referring to the manual she held in her lap. They'd bought the car no money down at a once-in-a-lifetime Moonshot sale. They sat on the plush benchseat holding hands. Jerry ran his free hand over the vinyl dash, telling Eva about the newspaper truck he'd driven in Prague after he'd been condemned as a poet and demoted. "They took out the seat, so many were falling asleep. Imagine driving standing up!" A stack of Pravda (which means "truth" in both Czech and Russian) made a good stool but would spill out from under him in hard turns.