My Grandpa John was the grandfather I knew best as he was alive and on this side of the ocean when I was a youngster. He was my grandmother's third husband (unheard of except in Hollywood) and they had gotten married in the late 1940s. He was a good man, kind and generous and I don't ever remember an angry word coming from him. He was retired the whole time I knew him so he was always around when I would jump on the train and head for Baltimore. Sometimes I would go with my younger brother and sometimes my parents would drive down for the weekend, but we went there often. It was only a couple of hours drive from Wilmington.
Grandpa John was an avid gardener/landscaper and it showed around the property. The house was modern colonial, but modeled after the actual colonial era homes in the neighborhood. Some of them were nearly 200 years old at that time. I spent time there playing with the neighborhood kids, building model cars, playing chopsticks on the baby grand piano, and playing with my grandfather's old U.S. Navy radio that had been salvaged from a ship after WW2.
One of the most fun things I would do with my grandfather was to go the bakery (Silber's for the world's best cheesecake, but I think it's gone now) or take a drive down to the Baltimore harbor or Washington D.C. for the day and hang out at the Smithsonian. I would look at the dinosaurs, geology displays, aviation displays in the various museums there. It was easy to spend days in awe at all the wonders that were on display there. We went there in style, too.
We would take my Grandpa John's Mercedes down there and put the top down if it was nice. It was just a two seater from the early 50s and way cool even for a 10 year old kid. The interior was leather and the radio had at least twelve bands, I'm pretty sure. I do remember picking up Radio Moscow when I was allowed to play with it. That car had so much class that it even smelled classy. I think it was the leather which was the only leather auto interior I had experienced at that point. The dashboard was walnut. Not a stick on woodgrain decal, but real, polished walnut. It was gorgeous! The door handles were on the front of the doors and they were hinged at the back. The fenders curved like Marilyn Monroe's hips and when we went zooming by we did get some looks. Grandpa John would have it gone through and repainted every couple of years and it was always clean and pristine.
As I turned into a teenager I started to have daydreams about that car. The kind of unrealistic fantasies that a teenage boy might have about automobiles. Surfing music had brought songs about cars to the top of the heap of popular music at the time. They never replaced love songs, but they came close. My fantasy was that my grandfather would give me the car when I turned sixteen. By this time my hormones had kicked in causing all the usual angst and confusion about life and my grandparents were talking about moving to Florida permanently. They had a place down at Pompano beach that I had been to a couple of times and were likely to make the move pretty soon. When I was fifteen Grandpa John sold it. I was crushed, but of course I couldn't show that because if I had told anyone about my fantasy they would have fallen over laughing. I kept it to myself, but it was worse than any girl could have done to me at that stage of my life. I was crushed on the inside, but went on as if my teenage dreams had never happened.
I am not sure anymore, but I believe it was an early 1950s Mercedes 220 cabriolet. It was gorgeous and was one of my first loves.