Dad wasn’t a car guy, but he loved where cars took him

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Dad (far right) and his pals on their Niagara-or-Bust road trip | Edsall family archives

Editor’s note: As a way to celebrate Father’s Day, we will be posting every story we receive as part of our Collecting Cars, Collecting Memories contest. The winner will be announced in June. To learn more and to submit your story about your dad and a classic car, click here.

For my Dad, cars were a means to an end, and often it was the end of a road — and the discovery of some spectacular vantage of a valley below or the canyon beyond or a lake or, well, you get the idea. 

“Let’s see where this road goes,” was sort of a way of life for our family. 

Funny, I suppose, that I have no photos of any of the cars Dad owned, but there were dozens of Kodak Carousels full of transparency slides showing the places those cars took us, whether on the annual family road-trip vacation or on the weekly “Sunday drive” after church.

A year after my father died, at age 88, my Mom and I took a road trip to James Bay, the huge body of water that forms the southern extension of Hudson Bay, that destination chosen in large part because the road there — one very long road with a booth at the beginning where you sign in and give an idea of when you might be back, lest they have to come looking for you (or your remains) — was one of the few in the U.S. or Canada that my father had not explored.

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Dad’s explorations began when he was a teenager, when he and two buddies convinced the local Goshen Lighting Rod company to sponsor their drive from northern Indiana to Niagara Falls-or-Bust, and back. 

I inherited that drive to explore highways and byways. I don’t collect cars, but I collect miles, around 25,000 of them a year, and lots of memories along the way. 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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