Love in a Time of Car Shows

I’m not in quarantine for COVID-19. Yet. As a case worker, I have a job that has to keep going. But with the shelter-in-place just issued, I’m at home, at least for now, with the hubs and the cats.

Even though I’m seeing co-workers each day, I still feel the isolation many are facing now. I yearn for more hugs and my cube-mate who is on the alternate shift at our workplace. I want to hear about her niece and nephew and to split a candy bar with her. I want to travel to see my parents. I want to hang out with my theatre family and get back to writing with my friends,

But I can’t. So I’ve been trying to think of times when I remember having felt a sense of community that I’m missing currently. What I first thought of was not what I’d expected this rainy Saturday morning.

Two summers ago, in July, I went with my husband and his father to a local car show. It was a small one. A few blocks of street by a local pizza shop that was hosting the event were closed off to thru-traffic. Vintage cars from the 1920s on were there, parked diagonally to try to help a few more entrants fit their vehicles in.

I don’t know if it’s just northeastern Pennsylvania, but the words “car show” attract all types of people. Grandparents with whole families in tow, pointing out cars they recall from their youth. Teenagers checking out new cars they likely aspire to own themselves one day. And not just all ages, but all backgrounds too. We were parked next to a local vegan restaurateur doing glass etching on his little Gremlin. And people from all walks of life stopped to talk with us while checking out my father-in-law’s black 1947 Cadillac.

Scranton, while changing, is still a predominantly white city, a fact that irks me often at my job where I work with an ever-growing Hispanic population. Many “locals” feel threatened by the people that I work with, and are vocal in letting it be known, unfortunately. But that summer night, at the car show? There wasn’t a harsh word to be had. It was just car lovers and admirers, talking cars, looking at cars, and eating some pizza. And we all had such a good time. It was all laughs and smiles and, well, love.

I don’t know if thinking of community can help in a time when so much rests on us to protect that very thing by being separate, but at least this morning, listening to the King Cole Trio with some coffee, on my own, I didn’t feel so lonely.

Marcie Herman Riebe

Marcie is a bilingual caseworker by day, a university adjunct by night, and an aspiring writer at times in between. An import to NEPA, she has been active in the arts for many years from theatre to forensics to music. Her interest in the arts continues as founder of Ink, an area writer's group, a founding member of Voce Angeli (NEPA's only all-female chamber choir), and as a columnist for Thirty-Third Wheel. She loves all things Pittsburgh, particularly the University of Pittsburgh where she earned her Master of Arts in Linguistics. She lives in Scranton with her handsome husband, Pete, and their horde of cats: Napoleon, King Ajax, Sam, and Dean.

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