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Volkswagen: “The People’s Car” // Seattle Film Photographer

I am of a Volkswagen family. For those of you who are also of a VW family, then you know what I’m talking about… and for those of you who are not, well, I have this inkling that you secretly want to be.

But I was not always of a Volkswagen family. I come from a family of “let’s buy the cheapest car possible, tinker with it, then drive it until it breaks down in front of the next cheapest car possible.” Which is to say, I come from a family of adventurists, and I was always fine with that. Then, as an adult, I started to yearn for a different kind of family of adventurists. When I was 29 years old and wrote my foretelling List of What I Want in a Man; on that crazy long list of standards that I thought no one on this earth could meet until I am done working on “Me,” was that “he” had to own a Vanagon, or at least a VW Van. The only way that I can think to explain why this was one of the criterium on The List was that when I saw families with VW Vans, they looked so happy, like they were ready for an adventure at any given moment, and that adventure meant spending time together romping around in a van that was like a pet, a part of the family. And not just anyone can own a VW. They are temperamental, and they need to be loved; if you own a VW van, you either need to know how to fix it, or you need to be able to afford to fix it. Which may explain why I wanted a man with a van. Not necessarily the kind that had the money to fix it (which would be nice too, I’m sure), but a man who was manly enough, patient enough, and loving & passionate enough to own a Volkswagen van.

Which is where Michael comes in… the night we met, I drove, so I wasn’t sure what he drove. And the second day that we met (the next day), I saw that he drove a yellow Jeep. I was literally sitting in the car, saying to myself, “okay, catherine, you said that you wouldn’t stray from The List, and the Vanagon is nowhere to be seen, and you SAID that you wouldn’t stray… but he’s so great, perfect even. everything from the list. just one thing off The List? NO. you will not stray. it’s a done deal and he isn’t The One, even if only one thing is missing.” Well, as I’m having this mental argument with myself, we drive over to his house, and there on the side of the house, is a beautiful white 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon. I shit you not. I was like, “yes! yes! YES!” and practically fist-pumping in the air when I saw that thing. The Vanagon. His Baby. What would soon become our family car, that would bring us together on trips as we became a growing family, and learned to love each other and love the road as a family. An adventuring, happy, Volkswagen Family. I saw that van on the second day we knew each other, and it was the sure sign that this was the second day of the rest of our lives together.

Anyway. I love being part of a VW Family, and not just my family, but as a part of the whole family. People who own VW vans get all excited we they see another VW van and we wave at each other on the road, and love to meet up and talk about their love of all things VW, and they have a special language of information that could be exchanged back & forth for hours at a time. It never gets old to them. Sometimes I find it hilarious, sometimes annoying, but mostly I love it, and I admire it so.

Here are some photos of a recent day that we spent at a VW show & swap meet in Shoreline, where we were part of a big extended family of VW Lovers; since then, Michael has revisited his desire to own one van from every decade, so I have been receiving pretty regular emails with links to craigslist & ebay & wherever else that might be selling vans that need to be loved. Gotta love it.

A man, and his van… tells of a man who is loving, patient, likes an adventure, loves to tinker, has a desire to know things like the back of his hand, yearns for the road, is committed to what’s most important to him, prides himself on being a little outside of the norm, and is completely loyal to all that he loves. My man. My van.

Scott Nickell - Dig the post and images! Here is a link to one of favorite VW van stories. Before I got remarried I had a goal of setting out accross the USA in a VW van with my dog and cameras, meeting perople and getting into adventures. But family resposibilities…


Abbey Hepner - Beautiful images Catherine! I love it! This totally makes me want to go on a long road trip.

Michael - Time for a road trip!

Rick Wright - I’m crazy about those old VW vans too. …loved youR photos. …and that 1969 photo of us at Salmon La Sac is among my favorites,too. It certainly defined us in that era. Judy had the camper packed and ready to go Friday afternoon and we usually returned late Sunday night planning where we’d go next weekend. Our first road trip in 1969 included driving as far east as St Louis…then flying off to NYC for a few days (that’s where we witnessed the moon landing on TV) …then it was off to Texas to see my bro…a day or two in Twin Fall, ID and home Sunday night. ALL THIS IN TWO WEEKS. GEEZ. I hope all is well with you…I miss seeing you. Rick

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