Since the days of the horseless carriage arrived here in Niagara, residents have proudly kept their vehicles clean and shiny.
It has been a mystery to me how even the most macho half-ton pick-up trucks were spotless in time for the drive to Sunday morning church services.
Even during the coldest winter months, somehow vehicles are washed in the driveway or at the automatic Virgil Car Wash. Then, a wipe with the family chamois returns the family car to an acceptable level of beauty.
I observe in admiration, silently applauding, how several of my friends are always driving a pristine, shining automobile. Often, a white car.
Herein lies my confusing, counterintuitive conundrum. Until five years ago, I wouldn’t buy a white car, because it was obvious it would be hard to keep clean.
Dust, dirt and birdy doo would necessitate regular car cleaning., But look around in the ValuMart (I know, I know, it’s now the Independent Grocer) parking lots and over 40 per cent of the vehicles are white.
Why? Because ownership surveys tell us that they require washing far less often than red, blue, black or green cars.
Perhaps I need therapy, but has a long suppressed psychological issue lurked behind my happy exterior for all these years?
Since my elementary school days in Winnipeg in the 1950s, I have occasionally heard myself reciting the poem, “Birdy birdy in the sky, Dropped a whitewash in my eye. Couldn’t laugh, couldn’t cry, I just thank God cows can’t fly.”
A clean car has been important to me. And, like washing the windows of a house, these tasks have provided visible proof of accomplishment.
Get at it, work hard, and as they say in Alberta, “Let’s git ‘er done.”
What with the excitement of the recent municipal election campaign, the sale of the Virgil Car Wash slipped by without fanfare.
I had always been a fan of the former owners. It provided great service at a fair price. Even when its coin machines swallowed my money, I would simply call the provided telephone number to report my sad story.
Within a week, a handwritten note of apology would be in my postal box downtown, with the appropriate number of 25 cent pieces taped to the note. Perfect.
Now, the indefatiquable (or is it ”indy fatiquable”?) Enns family has purchased this operation in the Virgil Business Park, and I am certain that things will only get better. But the planned opening has been delayed and there is no nearby coin wash.
Many locals are driving dirty vehicles, hoping no one recognizes them. They duck, they put on sunglasses, they look the other way.
Are we being held hostage by municipal bureaucracy? Have the time-consuming and costly archeological surveys and heritage studies been completed?
Will the new car wash and car dry machines make less noise and decibels than a rousing outdoor pickleball game or a 180-passenger Hoverlink vessel?
I look forward to enjoying the mellifluous tenor voice of Rudy Enns welcoming us to the new family business. Soon, I hope, as this town is well-known for many things. Including sparkling automobiles.