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June 25, 2011 / sharoncopy

“I drive a 12 passenger van….”

      Imagine this in dark green!

      I drove a 12 passenger van for ten years: 1994-2004.

When our sixth child was born, we were legally and physically cramped in our 7 passenger Caravan, and so I went shopping. I found out that a 12 passenger didn’t cost any more than an 8 passenger and we wouldn’t really save much on gasoline between the two options, so it made sense to have a vehicle which could hold a few friends. I went to two dealerships and asked for a 12 passenger van.

 “What do you want on it?”

 “Four wheels and 12 seatbelts. A/C would be nice.” At both of them, the salesman walked away from me and had no interest in helping us find what we needed. If we didn’t want a super-duper VHS player and 7 or 8 captain’s chairs, well, then forget it.

I was walking out of ShopRite and I saw exactly the kind of vehicle that I wanted. I introduced myself to the couple, and they were more than happy to tell me about their six kids and the dealer out in Norristown who had found them their first 12-er, and this second one as well. Dave gave me the name of Carfagno Chevrolet and the manager’s name at the time: Vince G. I called Vince, stopped in to see him, and he promised to find us a van. Within a couple of weeks he had sent a guy to a dealer’s auction, found us a 1994 dark green Chevy Beauville that had 24,000 miles on it and had belonged to a rental agency. Vince had the shop check it over and pronounced it a good vehicle. Dave trusted him, and so I did too. $15,000 on a six year cycle with a warranty going to 75,000, and we were all set! Whoo – hoo! No more arguments with cramped quarters!

Yeah, right. The first Sunday that we drove to church, there were two kids on each bench, with enough space in between for one or two kids, depending on the bench. Somebody reached over and poked somebody else, who yelled, and I said quite loudly, “Oh, no you don’t!

The big green van had a couple of little dings in it, which I added to later on while mastering reverse gear with that length. I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed when I first looked inside and found that the gray carpeting (already not my favorite color) was permanently stained in a few places. Then I cheered up! “Hey, it’s pre-stained, so now I won’t get upset when the kids spill anything on it!” 

That van took a dozen kids to Six Flags, and ten up to Campfire! Summer Bible Camp in Ontario. It took our family to Houston and back, and to Detroit more times than I can remember. That van was responsible for our son Brian’s first meeting of his future wife.  I drove many field trips and birthday outings and moved a lot of furniture because I could.

One Thursday after piano practice out near Potshop Road, I noticed that a neighbor was getting rid of a twin sized box spring and mattress, in perfectly good condition. A definite upgrade to some of the ones we had. I made the guys help me stuff it into the van over the top of the seats and made the 5 kids all crouch down underneath it for the entire ride home to Philly (45 minutes.) It was probably safer than seat belts. 🙂 The toddler was in her carseat up front. ( I know, that’s frowned upon now….)

My vanity license plate from the van hangs in our hallway upstairs. It expressed my sentiments exactly: EXTRA RM

We had the extra room to take others along, give rides, and contribute to social life and fellowship. It was a great van, and I shed a tear of rememberance when we sold it (only one, because by then the repair bills were killing us!) 🙂

One Comment

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  1. AmyLynn / Jun 25 2011 2:32 pm

    Ahhh, such good memories for that van… :]
    I kind of miss it a little, buuut then again, I’m glad I don’t have to learn to drive in it! d:

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