At some point in my childhood, my dad extended our garage a full-car length and turned the old part of the garage into an extension of our basement. In short, that meant he could keep one of his cars in our house, a 1931 Buick convertible. He decorated his "car room" with his collection of smaller car stuff like brass headlights and horns that went "ah-ooh-gaa!" But what I remember best was his collection of old hood ornaments/radiator caps. I can remember spending hours as a kid looking at all the chrome icons from the teens to the forties, many of them were from automobile companies that hadn't existed for decades (and, in some cases, might have been manufactured in some of the long-abandoned automobile factories I would explore as an adult). They were so cool---winged ladies and art deco birds and mythical gods.

I have no idea what kind of car this belonged to (maybe a Mercury?), but I think it's pretty beautiful. Over the holidays I spent some time down in my dad's shop looking at his hood ornament colelction (over the years, he moved the collection from the "car room" there, and, sadly, over the years he's sold off many of his hood ornaments/radiator caps). Whenever I spend time down in my dad's shop, I am reminded of a childhood spent being taught the beauty of the early-American automobile. I guess that's why I had such a dumbfounded and then angry reaction to America's recent indifference to the plight of the American auto industry and the constant echo-chamber assertions that American cars lack quality. I was raised to believe that American car companies perfected the automobile and built the American middle class, and though there may have been some years in the 1980s/90s when car quality declined (something that even JD Power and other reviewing agencies acknowledge has been reversed), there is no way that when times got tough, I would turn my back on them.

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