Abraham Lincoln 1970 – 1999

Carol Mitchell-Gears

No this is not the president, not an animal with a heartbeat. Nor a child with a brilliant smile. It is Abraham. A Lincoln Continental. Assembled and given life in the year 1969 in Detroit, Michigan.

We can trace his early years to Southern California. Predominately the Beverly Hills area. No doubt he resided in a comfortable garage. Was cared for mechanically and beautifully groomed.

In the year 1976 his owner could no longer support his diet of high octane gas. It was during this period of time gasoline was priced at $.89 a gallon. It was also scarce. Automobile owners were assigned odd or even days to purchase gas. There were long lines and short tempers.

Abraham was not a hot selling item in 1976. So his owners donated him to a nonprofit agency. Taking a good tax write off.

At that time I was doing the bookkeeping for this agency and they were very short of cash. I suggest that they pay me with the fine Lincoln Continental, I need a car, he was in great condition and was still looking young and very handsome. They agreed and Abraham was mine.

It didn’t take long for Abraham to become a part of our family. He carried dozens of kids to and from school and the beach, Disneyland and band practice. The size of his trunk made him a work horse carrying anything you could think of. He safely carried us on many long trips. He seldom had mechanical problems, and was reliable and comfortable.

From 1976-1992, that is 16 years, his home was Santa Monica, California. He traveled the same route for years. Stop signs, traffic lights and bumps in the road were predictable for Abraham. He knew the routine well.

In 1992 we moved to Denver, Colorado. Abraham complained of the miserable weather, hated the cold and snow, resented the mud and mess. We understood, so in 1994 we moved to Arizona. Now he complained of the hot summers. Saying he was 25 years old and couldn’t take the heat. Don’t worry it’s a dry heat we told him. He said he was now a respectable senior and wanted to retire with priority parking in the garage. It was given.

As time passed he grew very tired, his age was showing. Like most men he was getting a bit thin on top, so we had his black vinyl top replaced. He was looking very pale, his color faded. His leather seats were dry and cracked, and bits of sharp wire poked through…He was now coughing a lot and needed additives. He was wobbly when turning left and right and often dribbled on the garage floor.

We inquired about having him completely rebuilt; the mechanic said “no.”

1997, 21 years of ownership have passed. Priority parking in the garage is really getting on my nerves. The more valuable cars were left out in the Arizona sun. Abraham is seldom driven, he is no longer reliable. Each year I would pray that Abraham would fail his medical but he never did. He would look at the smog inspector with half open eyelids and puff out the purest exhaust. His life saved every time.

By 1998, the situation of the priority parking is now a divorceable issue. I said to my husband it was time to let Abraham go. Parts are no longer available, he is never driven, his age is truly showing. Please accept that not everything you own has to stay in your life forever. There was a very long chilling pause, then he said, “Does that include you?”

At times conversation regarding Abraham were s heated we embarrassed ourselves. The car is in my name I said, don’t be surprised if you see it on the street with a sign that says, “Please take me.”

At long last in 1999, my husband admitted there was no hope for Abraham, and called the Salvation Army making arrangements for an automobile donation and pick up. It was sad to see Abraham to, he’d been with us 23 years. A lot of good memories. We both cried as they towed him away.

Weeks later we received a nice letter from the agency thanking us for the donation The estimated value for tax purposes was much higher than they originally thought, because the car was in fine condition.

Don’t say it, don’t even think it I said…let him go. You took great care of him. Now just let him go.

There was a long pause, then sad silence.