Bookshelf: Women in the driver’s seat

Bookshelf: Women in the driver’s seat

Turns out women like their cars, too, and have stories to share

Book cover

“Why,” asked Libby Edelman, “do we typically think that only men love cars?

“Yes, my husband and my sons constantly talk about wheels, engines, exhaust systems… cars, cars, and more cars. But clearly, there are also women who have unique relationships with what they drive.”

Edelman is among them, and points to the freedom she feels when she’s driving her bright red Mini Cooper, “a far cry from the more sensible SUVs I drove when toting kids around earlier in my life.”

Doubting that she was alone among women who were connected to their cars, the former fashion editor at Harper’s Bazar and Seventeen magazines, former public relations director for Calvin Klein and co-founder of Esprit Footwear and then of the Sam Edelman fashion brand, started carrying her camera and asking women about their cars.

The result is a book which features a paragraph-length quote from each woman — 59 are featured — and a full-page photograph of the woman and her vehicle.

School bus driver Stella Calloway only used the racing helmet on weekends

My favorite quote came from Betty Armstrong, who has traveled coast-to-coast and back again in her 1974 Triumph TR6. She named her car “Toulouse La Triumph,” of whom she says: 

“Other relationships in my life have come and gone but ‘Toulouse’ was always there to take me for a drive along the coast to lift my spirits or just park somewhere pensively while I figured out what to do next with my life — like any true friend would do.”

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Really, can you ask more from a car? Or a friend?

While I love that quote, my favorite story in the book that shared by Stella Calloway. She’s seen posing among a bunch of battered old school buses and with a racer’s helmet in hand. Turns out that during school days she drove buses carrying special needs children. But on Saturday nights, she was at the local short track, driving old buses in figure-8 races.

I love that Jekyll-Hyde juxtaposition, and it was just enough to edge out yet another wonderful story, that of Fran Yardley and her 1941 Ford super Deluxe woodie station wagon, which her husband presented her as a 50th birthday present.

“I was actually born in one of these cars,” Yardley says, explaining that her mother was driving herself to the hospital, went into labor and thus Yardley was born in the back seat in the parking lot of a Sears, Roebuck and Company store. 

That explains the woodie’s license plate: SRB44, SRB from Sears Roebuck and 44 for 1944, the year of Yardley’s birth.

OK, those are my favorites, but there are more than 50 others awaiting you.

Reviewed

Lovin’ My Car: Women in the Driver’s Seat

Photographs by Libby Edelman

powerHouse Books, 2019

RELATED:  Bookshelf: A field guide to America’s car museums

ISBN 9781576879177

Hardcover, 124 pages

$24.95

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