Call it! Maybe it’s the isolation forced on us by the “Mist of Misery”. More than likely it’s the looking back with fondness at happier, simpler times when my main responsibility was making sure the trash was put out for pickup every week. And every so often trying to figure out how to fit two weeks of trash into a one week sized can. “Really dad, I put it out but that darned trash man went right on by!”. Which would get me the one raised eyebrow, slightly canted head look that said, “you really do think I’m that stupid?” Whatever the reason, I’ve been revisiting events in my life that have some connection to my love of cars. One standout memory is a game that my best friend Artie and I use to play. Back then we were sure we had invented it, but I’ll bet that just about every H.A.M.B.ER has played it in one form or another. Our game was, “Call It!”. I’ll get to the rules in a bit. But first, the location. Our houses were only a block away from U.S. Rt. 1. So we would use it to get from our neighborhood to others without having to go through the woods. The woods are gone now but not Rt. 1. At the point where we would enter the road, was the beginning of a grade that crested about two hundred feet away. In the middle of the hill was an underpass with a trail for people to get their horses to the other side of the road. We called it the Bridle Path. We figured that section of road was built in 1931 because the concrete Art Deco type barriers on the overpass had “1931” formed right into them. Probably a WPA project. Those barriers must have been really something when new. Back when form and function were given equal attention. But in 1960 after twenty nine years of New England winter exposure, they were severely pockmarked from the Tsunami like waves of rock salt laden snow thrown at them by the big State snow plows. Artie and I would take our positions by sitting up on the barriers which were about three and a half feet high. Then we would look to the crest of the hill on one side and as far down the road to the other side to be the first one to yell out the challenge. “Call it!”. It was up to the one who didn’t yell “Call it” to name the make, model, and year of the approaching car. If he faltered on any one of the three, the other could claim the point by correctly filling in the blank or blanks. The goal to win was the first one to ten points. Some days there were so many “spotting” opportunities that we didn’t care about points because we were enriching our libraries of car knowledge. We learned the subtle differences between model years, the gap in manufacturing during the war years and the differences in sound between a six and eight cylinder. We could tell when a car had a six in it because the shift point on the hill was right in front of us and only the sixes had to down shift. The eight cylinder cars cruised right up. Occasionally off in the distance we would hear the sound of a “foreign” car coming our way. We never yelled “call it!” For them. In our learned minds they couldn’t compare to American cars. Besides, all the guys driving them seemed to wear the same silly tweed hats with beak forward. Not like the guys we knew that had motorcycles. They knew that a hat like that had to be worn, beak backwards. On a slow day we would sometimes get silly and yell out things like, “ ‘58 Chevy hardtop with two cigarette burns on the driver’s seat!”. Or, “Hudson Hornet with a rip in the headliner!”. Being only twelve years old and not having entered the “age of enlightenment”, we had no idea that a back seat could be used for something other than brothers incessantly asking, “are we there yet?”. Or the defensive, “he hit me first!”. Had we known, I’m sure we could have come up with any number of descriptive reasons as to why that Hudson’s headliner had a tear in it. I had occasion to pass by that spot not too long ago. As I suspected, it’s not the same. The bridge has been rebuilt. Our concrete perch is gone. Replaced by a simple, function over form railing as nondescript as the thousands of cars that pass by every day. I imagined what our game of “Call it” would be like today. One of us would yell out, “Call it!”. Then the other would begrudgingly take up the challenge with, “I don’t know what year it is, don’t know what make it is, but I can tell you it’s silver”. “Wanna go skip some rocks?”. Every generation has been known to say, “I wouldn’t trade the time I grew up for any other time!”. Well except maybe for the teenagers driving a Conestoga westward. I’m glad I came of age in the Fifties and Sixties. Be well and stay safe Jeff Sent from here. Where? Here.