Life story

The wheels that have guided the story of my life – The Morning Call

Lately, there seems to be an awful lot to think about, worry about, and even worry about.

COVID, Ukraine, mass shootings, and I could go on. Suffice it to say, the news is hard to watch, and maybe that’s why I find myself watching reruns of Ed Sullivan, “To Tell the Truth” and “Columbo.” Sometimes a little escape can be good for our mental health.

So if you don’t mind, let’s take a summer break start. For me, no season compares to summer when it comes to defining happiness. Swimming pools, barbecues, bicycles, motorbikes, golf, ice cream and the sweet smell of a freshly mown lawn. This is just the shortlist of many treasured summer memories that come to mind.

For some reason, I like to take care of cars in my garage on hot days in the summer. I’ll wax and scrub anyone’s car. The cars of my daughter, my wife, my sisters, whatever. Give me a sunny garage and a little Yacht Rock radio and I’m in heaven. Boz Scaggs, Christopher Cross, Beach Boys are screaming on my speakers, and nothing is stopping me.

Speaking of cars, I had the crazy idea to list the best cars that have influenced my life for a change of pace.

My father’s Cadillac: Before my dad lost his business, he drove a new Cadillac every three years. I don’t think I even have words to describe the alluring look and smell of the genuine leather interiors of these iconic beauties. Even as a little kid, I could smell and smell success sitting in the back as my dad glided through town.

Quick Service Booth: My mom didn’t drive, so sometimes I found myself in the back of a cab. Especially with my mother, my brothers, my sisters and lots of parcels from Hess. Old school taxis had small seats that fold down from the ground in the back. Way too dangerous for a kid by today’s standards, but I loved them. We had a driver we requested… Mr. Acker. He wasn’t a big talker, but a nice guy with a warm, clean car. I was mesmerized as I heard his dispatch radio screaming instructions over the airwaves. It was safe and special for me. Maybe that’s why I never took Uber. No one can match Mr. Acker.

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My GTOs and MGBs: One was a muscle car and the other a British super sports car. I bought them both used. Used cars from the 1960s were much more worn than today’s more durable cars. But with the top down and the AM radio blaring, I made some amazing memories with these two.

The bus: I mainly walked to school, but in sixth grade all the students in the district went to Sheridan School and took the bus. I loved taking this bus. It was always filled with lots of chatter. Sometimes I would go in the back by myself to look out the window and enjoy all the activities in town.

My Honda 305: I don’t know why my dad let me buy a new bike ($800 new at the time). As dangerous as it is, at 16, I loved it. It was the Beach Boys Honda era. There, I was flying on Route 22 with my flip flops and no helmet. Have you ever looked back and thanked God for still being alive?

My delivery truck: Loaded with eggs, chicken, fries and everything downtown restaurants needed. Driving my dad’s delivery truck was my summer job. Navigating the streets and alleys of downtown was an incredible lesson in driving, customer relations and a sense of life. The sounds of bustling traffic, the smells of restaurants bountiful, and the sights of thousands of downtown workers make remembering that time “memory that makes you smile.”

Speaking of cars, let me say that we are blessed with some amazing community-minded dealerships here in the Lehigh Valley. Rob Bennett, Andy Scott, Andy and Tom Daub, Art and Andy Wright… just to name a few. All good committed people in the Valley, employing thousands of our neighbors and continually giving back to local charities whenever asked. Next time you’re considering an online purchase, ask them to contribute to your local charity. Good luck with that.

So don’t take your car for granted. Not only will it get you where you want to go in that moment, but it can take you to a place that will stay with you for a lifetime. Take it from a guy who just turned 70. Memories can literally light up your heart, and when things get a little crazy, memories can be a necessary and wonderful escape.

Tony Iannelli is President and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at [email protected].


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