(Imagine this car in Nile Green, and that would be my first car: Elenore, the Wonder Car)
I’ve just gotta say here and now that I have no idea how I afforded having a car back in the mid ‘70’s when I was living in Portchester, NY and “commuting” to the city to live my rock’n’rollsville life. Granted, it was a much-traveled four-door ’65 Chevy Malibu, Nile Green. I named her “Elenore,” the wonder car, after the Turtles song:
“Elenore, gee I think you’re swell/And you really suit me well/You’re my pride and joy et cetera.”
Sure, there were over 300k miles on that car, but my mechanic friend, Billy, checked her over and deemed it good. I mean, for $250 I got a solid classic car that was only 10 years old; it had a V-8 engine, there were no problems with it, and Elenore purred like a big kitty.
I think there’d been a problem with a fire in the back seat, but my friend found me a replacement bench style car seat for the back, it didn’t smell at all bad, and I was definitely cookin’ with gas. BTW, regular gas back then was about 60 cents per gallon, which would be roughly $2.50 in 2012’s economy.
When I moved to the city, I figured, I’d get rid of the car. . . if I’d been thinking straight, I’d have figured on leaving it in Queens at my mom’s house, but my mom was kind of unpredictable so I never knew if she’d be cool about something or make it a big “federal case,” so I didn’t push it, or even think about, keeping the car there. Maybe I wanted to save on paying insurance or something. . . money was SO tight back then.
Anyhoo, I did love driving my big, strong Elenore wonder car -- even though I only had her for maybe a year and a half. Back then, it wasn’t a big hassle to park on the street in the city -- remember, there were several million less people -- so I’d drive into the city to visit, every time. Parking on the upper west side wasn’t a hassle when I stayed with my boyfriend.
Parking downtown wasn’t bad, either. I could park very near CBGB’s, and go home if necessary. Usually I’d stay with my boyfriend, or occasionally with other friends. I did have some friends in bands and I recall how gracious they were to let me stay over every now & then.
Two of those friends were Chris and Tina, of Talking Heads. I’m not sure if we met by me going over to them, or if my boyfriend, JW (ha ha -- the mysterious JW!), introduced us. Whatever and however it happened, we really “clicked” and I thought Frantz & Weymouth were absolutely wonderful: sweet, charming, gracious, generous, and well mannered. I loved their music, too, of course.
At any rate, when I stayed over their loft on Chrystie Street one night, I remember listening with them to “Love Is the Drug” on the stereo (it had just recently come out & we all loved Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry) and really digging it. David Byrne shared the loft; he was very shy & not real communicative. The loft was a very primitive, unpretty space. The sleeping areas were separated by curtains made of sheets or blankets, and they had a place for a guest to sleep (me!). I can’t recall if it was a couch or a bed, but I slept just fine, no worries (never had too much of a problem there). There’s enough of the gypsy in me to not mind crashing out at somebody else’s place, so long as I’m welcome there.
The next morning, however, I found that a window in my car had been broken and a bag with my college textbooks had been stolen, while parked on Chrystie Street. Damn! It really was a tough neighborhood back then. . .
Like I said, I didn’t know what I’d do with the car once I moved into NYC. And so, wonder car Elenore obediently expired on the eve of my move to my first NY apartment in the middle of ’76. Oh well. They said it was the transmission. How could I have afforded getting THAT fixed back then? It never occurred to me to ask for help (especially not from mom -- who was dating a new guy after our dad died in ’74). A towtruck was called to haul away poor old Elenore’s carcass (or car chasse?) from the Hutchinson River Parkway south, and that was the last I saw of her.
But it wasn’t the last I saw of Chris & Tina. . . or the Talking Heads.