Hugging the coast of Maine are hundreds of small islands some of which are drivable by cah.* Island cahs
do not need state inspections like mainland vehicles do, but they do need to be registered and insured. We don’t drive many miles on an Island that is only four miles long and one wide. The roads are either dirt or in dire need of repair and the speed limit is 25 mph.
After several years of riding a bicycle to the store, library, and even the town dump I was overjoyed with the idea of having even a beat up old cah (often referred to as a beatah) to drive during our summer vacation on the Island. Good friends had offered us a Honda with 200,000 miles that had been used by their teenage son.
Soon after we accepted their thoughtful gift we hired a mechanic to free the brakes which had somehow seized up while the Honda sat idle for a week. I wrote checks to pay the excise tax, registration, and liability insurance. There was also the cost of transporting it to the island and driving it to the cottage. It seemed well worth the cost when I thought of finally hauling the old lawn mower, leftover building materials, and paint cans out of the shed and depositing them at the dump.
When my husband, our youngest son, Brian, his girlfriend, Karen (high school students at the time), and I arrived on the Island that summah, I loaded up the cah. On the way to the dump I stopped to put gas in the empty tank.
After lunch Brian and Karen drove off on a tour of the Island. There is a road that cuts through a golf course and ends at a stone pier where kids often congregate. Having shown off the new wheels and Karen to his friends Brian started up the road. Just where the road cuts through the 4th hole of the golf course the front passenger’s side wheel fell off and the Honda came to a screeching halt.
Without AAA or cell phones, Brian and his buddies managed to get the Honda to the Island mechanic, Dave, who also happens to be a good friend of ours. “I have a loanah you can take,” Dave told Brian and gave him the keys to a 1963 Chevrolet with the letters “CHEV” missing from the decoration on the grill.
My husband and I were strolling down the beach in unsuspecting bliss when we looked up and saw Brian and Karen in the Chevy jerking and lurching up the road to the cottage. It had a standard transmission, and the gear shift was on the steering column, called “three on the tree” by car aficionados, not something that is seen in cahs today. Brian, unfamiliar with anything but a four on the floor standard transmission, was struggling to figure out where to find first, second, and third gears. He was mostly finding reverse. Karen – if not impressed by this time – was a good sport.
I wrote a check to have the Honda transported off the Island and taken to the junk-yahd. We remained good friends with the people who gave us the Honda, accepted the cah we called the ROLET (pronounced ro-let’) as a gift from Dave, and for several summahs drove happily to the Island store, library, and dump.
*Mainahs don’t pronounce “R’s” at the end of words and put them in when they don’t belong.