Editor’s note: As a way to celebrate Father’s Day, we posted every story we received as part of our Collecting Cars, Collecting Memories contest. Thank you to all who submitted.
I lost my dad earlier this year. He was my father and — most of all — my best buddy and inspiration in my life’s passion of the automobile.
His one main reason for coming to America after World War II was to make a better life for himself and his future family, but his other big dream was to own his own car someday.
My dad told me that, back in his birth country of Czechoslovakia as a kid growing up in the 1930s and ’40s, that life was simpler but hard. Most people were farmers in small rural towns.
Occasionally, he’d have the opportunity to go to a larger town or city. He got there like most people in his day — by horse and cart. There, he saw one of the wonders of the day’s modern society, the automobile.
He’d tell me he’d seen them before, even occasionally in his home town. They were mostly trucks and tractors owned by those who had larger farms or means to afford them but, as to the nicer European personal cars, that was a rare treat to see and admire as young man living in his time and area of the world.
He said the ones who owner a personal car tended to be well-off. He admired seeing them and often dreamed of a day of owning one himself.
His one uncle who traveled a few times to the United States would tell my dad stories of this great land of freedom and opportunity. He also told my dad of the large array of types and styles of cars available across the Atlantic and the comparatively large number of people who owned a car.
Anyway, without going on too long, he eventually came here in 1951. As many others did then, he settled in Buffalo, New York where I was the first child of our family to be born in America.
My mom would tell me years later that my dad, after working for years and finally having a bit of spare money, got his dream. She wanted to spend the money on a house, but my dad wanted to follow his dreams.
So, with her reserved blessing, he went out and bought his first new car: A 1956 two-door Plymouth.
This first car to him was more than just owning one. It also now meant true freedom of mobility for the first time in his life and, maybe, his first real taste of tearing away the remembrance of the old county lifestyle, the ravages of the war and a way to celibate this wondrous time and place in his life.
Dad would later tell me stories of how excited and proud he was of owning that first car.
As time moved forward and his family grew, his love, hopes and dreams also had grown. He got to own more cars and his own home.
Throughout the years, I grew to love cars as much as my dad.
The first car I really remember working on was his 1965 Impala SS. Being a young boy, I loved helping him work on the cars and washing and detailing them up with him.
As time passed, dad of helped me learn to drive and get my first car. We loved going to swap meets and car cruises through all our years together. He’d accompany me with his favorite 1978 Trans AM and I with my 1966 Corvette, which I still own after 26 years.
So as I come to this first Father’s Day without my dad, this is just a small remembrance I have of knowing and loving him for my 64 years of life.
Happy Father’s Day!
-Mike Holeva from Hamburg, New York