For ten years I drove a 1977 Datsun pickup with a single bench seat. When I bought her, I had one child. The day I drove her home, Jesse climbed right in and adopted that Datsun as his own.
By 1987, I had 3 children who needed hauling to and from school. Also by 1987 I could give you a long list of reasons why every 1977 Datsun pickup should be cubed, packed on a container ship, and sent back to Japan. Basically they were toys, not trucks, and I demonstrated my feelings by rubbing out the DATSUN lettered on the tailgate and then painting, in equally big letters, TWUCK. For years my little white twuck was an object of comment all over the San Francisco Peninsula.
But I didn't cube her, of course. I sold her into white slavery to a great big unsophisticated man named Ron who was impressed by how I’d “kept it up” and promised to do the same - as if I might not let him have it unless he promised to take good care of it. He’s going to haul concrete for his business of making drainage systems. He's going to work the piss out of that twuck. As did I.
My daughter comes home. She's eight years old. "Where's the twuck?" she asks.
"Sold it to a guy in Pescadero." (A little town about 10 miles from La Honda.)
"Where's the bear?"
"Moved it to the new truck." (I'd bought a new Ford - with jump seats behind the front bench - a month earlier.)
Somehow in the years of hauling kids - my work days were from 9:30 to 2:30, school hours - with the daily shuffle of lunchboxes and art projects and ballet slippers and plastic rocket ships, a stuffie bear had appeared on the dashboard of the twuck. Each child claimed it wasn't theirs. So it remained - shepherd, guardian, watchbear. Starting as a brown bear, gradually the sunlight bleached it to white.
I have to take my daughter for an overnight. Before leaving, she says she wants to write a note. Later, I find it on the kitchen counter:
Daddy Sold The twuck he sold it To A man in Peskedaro. Not the Bear.
My daughter wasn't the note-writing type. She was a talker. Somehow, the passage of the twuck deserved a more formal recognition. To her, as to me, that twuck was a toy. In the mind of a child, toys - even big metal ones - have honor. And of course, so do small stuffie bears.