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By VINCE LUECKE
I finally purchased a pair of replacement wheel covers last week, a long-delayed move that I hope will remove a bit of the down-and-out look of my old car.
People might pull off hobo chic with old clothes, but it’s a lot harder with a car, especially a 2001 Buick with two tires missing their shiny center covers.
The wheel covers on the front tires fell off within days of each other last month, likely courtesy of a washboarded Spencer County road I travel weekly, and I delayed buying the replacements. They seldom stay in place.
But after weeks of getting friendly ribbing and my self-conscious loathing of naked black tires, I plunked down the money. I just couldn’t take the ribbing anymore.
“You lost your hubcaps,” my mom said old-fashionedly.
“Your car looks like trash,” an honest friend opined.
My answer was constant. I’d shrug my shoulders and mutter with a lowered head.
“I know. I know.”
My car has been dependable since I purchased it used five or six years ago, but the wheel covers have been problems from Day 1.
They are attached by plastic screw caps and they have always rattled, no matter how often I tightened them. Several times passengers told me I had rocks in my wheel covers. I’d remove them but there was nothing there. The covers, even the ones original to the car, just wouldn’t fit snugly.
I’ve considered buying a new or much-newer preowned car or truck. It’s not the money. It’s frugality. A car is transportation, not an investment or status symbol. I really don’t want a car payment and would rather not raid a savings account to pay for another vehicle.
Still, I hated the look of a car without wheel covers. For the past month, I’ve hidden my car in the backs of parking lots, trying not to be seen and looked away when other motorists would pull up next to me.
I even stared jealously at cars with nice wheels like some people do at other people’s sneakers or high heels.
I hope to squeeze a few more months out of my old car. I want to be there when it finally passes away and gets towed to the junkyard. It’s served me well. Parting ways now would somehow be unfair.
I may etch my name and phone number on the new wheel covers, because they probably won’t stay put.
Farewell, Father Harold
The Rev. Harold Hammerstein OSB died last month. Though a member of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, he served for more than 30 years at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville.
Some Perry Countians may remember the years in the mid-1970s when he served as pastor of St. Augustine church at Leopold and mission churches in Derby and Magnet.
I got to know Father Harold when I served for several months at St. Ben’s in 2001. Father Harold had the early 6 a.m. Mass each Sunday and that service drew quite a crowd for the brevity of the service. Father Harold was to the point and some people appreciated that.
Father Harold, like most priests of his era, was educated when Latin was the standard language of the church and he taught the subject at the high school at St. Meinrad.
Father Harold once asked me about my Latin skills. I told him I’d taken several classes. He then asked me a question in Latin I only partially understood. I tried answering back that my Latin was a little rusty. He just smiled.
I felt like I disappointed him. We came from different eras. We both knew that.
I smiled while reading the obituary notice Ziemer Funeral Home published for Father. Harold’s visitation and service. In 1986 the Evansville Press ran a full-page feature on the five-mile walks Father Harold and his niece, Jane Ann Reinitz used to take, and “it was rumored that she and her uncle would converse in that ancient tongue.”
Father Harold was often the presider at funeral liturgies at St. Ben’s and I would attend them sometimes. There was a message he often repeated in those funerals.
“We would have liked to have had (the deceased) with us longer,” Father Harold would say. “But that’s not up to us.”
I thought of Father Harold’s words when my father died last year. It’s true. We always want those we love to be with us but that amount of time isn’t in our control.
Another of Father Harold’s funeral messages was the hope that we will see our loved ones again in heaven.
No doubt, Father Harold is catching up with friends.
A few weeks ago we published a photo of a painting of the former Tell City depot. The photo ran with a story on Tell City’s new visitors and event center.
The painting was by John Butler and it’s my understanding that it is in the collection of the Tell City Historical Society.
I think it would be nice if the painting of the depot, which burned many years ago, and provided inspiration for the look of the new visitors center, could be placed in the depot, along with a small exhibit of Butler’s work.
The center will showcase locally made items and while no one will likely want to part with Butler’s paintings, it would be nice if his depiction of the old depot, or at least print of it, found a permanent resting place in the new building.
That would be a good way to tie old and new and let visitors know about the former depot.