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Great New York Times Article: One-Family Owned '63 Buick Wildcat


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This is great stuff!


In Every Way, This Buick Is a Family Car</NYT_HEADLINE>

EGO-1-articleLarge.jpg Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

HER FATHER'S BUICK Mary Jane La Vache and Karl Puetz, her longtime boyfriend, at a 9/11 memorial in Brooklyn. More Photos »


</NYT_BYLINE>Published: April 1, 2011

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<NYT_TEXT><NYT_CORRECTION_TOP></NYT_CORRECTION_TOP>WHEN Joseph La Vache, known to everyone as Lenny, bought a Buick Wildcat coupe in 1963, he made a promise to his bride-to-be, Maria.


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20110403-EGOBUICK-slide-NU8Q-thumbWide.jpg Slide Show

All in the Family

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Ms. La Vache and Mr. Puetz with the Wildcat.

More Photos »

“He said it would be the last car he ever bought,” Mary Jane La Vache, the couple’s older daughter, recalled on a recent Saturday. Though the promise fell victim to the oil crunches of the 1970s, when gas prices shot to dizzying heights, the Buick remained in the La Vache garage for more than 40 years.

The neighbors grew accustomed to seeing the car around.

“After he died, when people walked down the block, if they saw me they wouldn’t even say, ‘How are you?’ ” Ms. La Vache said. “They’d say, ‘How’s the car?’ I’d say she’s doing okay, and they’d say, ‘Are you doing this, this, this, this and this?’ ”

She said that her father, who died in 2006, doted on the Buick. He had graduated from Automotive High School in Brooklyn and served as a mechanic in the Korean War. He had dreams of opening his own repair shop.

“But I guess when he met my mom, his perspective changed,” she said. “He opted to join the police department, and he was a harbor cop.”

Days off were devoted to the Buick, working on the street in front of the family house in a quiet corner in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn. When she could, Ms. La Vache joined him.

“My father would, say, bleed the brakes, so he would need someone to help him,” she said. “And if he had to run down to get parts that were ordered and he had to go down to Sunset Park, I would go along for the ride.”

It wasn’t always so easy to find repair parts for the Buick. They went as far as Pennsylvania to find what they needed. “In the ’70s and early ’80s — this is before the Internet — he and I would spend hours making phone calls,” she said.

Ms. La Vache, 46, stood next to the car with her boyfriend, Karl Puetz, outside the brick house where she grew up — and still lives — on Maria La Vache 9/11 Memorial Way. The street was renamed for her mother, who died in the attack on the World Trade Center a decade ago.

The article continues at the link, with a slideshow of wonderful photos of the Wildcat.

Edited by Centurion (see edit history)
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