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Ann Cannon: A tribute to Dad and his flying green VW Beetle

Published June 10, 2014 11:28 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When I was in grade school, our family purchased a light green Volkswagen Beetle, and it was the coolest car on the block by far because it could fly.

Yes. You read that correctly.

We had a flying car at our house.

How did we know it was a flying car? Because our dad told us so. He dropped the information casually as if it were no big deal — like everyone else on our street had flying cars parked in front of their houses, too.

We have a new car and btw it can fly. So yeah. I guess I'll go mow the lawn now.

WAIT! My brothers and I said. OUR CAR CAN FLY?

Our dad assured us this was true, because our car had a "flubber gear" just like the car in that movie about the absent-minded professor. That's how they made cars in Germany. With flubber gears. He said he'd take us for a spin around the neighborhood if we wanted him to, which we did, of course, because come on! Who's going to pass up a chance to fly over your friends' houses in a light green Volkswagen Beetle so you can roll down your window and go, "Bet your car can't do this, suckers!"

We rushed out of the house and piled into the VW, where our dad told us the rules. The car could fly, of course. That's why he bought it. But it would only fly if we closed our eyes and held on tight. If we opened our eyes — even a little bit — we'd crash land, which (of course) would NOT be awesome.

So we closed our eyes and listened as our dad launched the car into orbit. He raced the engine and made whooshing noises and imitated voices of wonder-struck people on the ground below.

It's a bird! It's a plane! Ohmygosh it's a flying Volkswagen!

The ride eventually came to an end. We touched down, opened our eyes and spent the rest of the day telling everybody who would listen about our brand new car. You know. The one that could fly us to the moon.

Years later I would relate this story with mock outrage.

Everybody always says what a great guy my dad is, but seriously! What kind of man would do that to a bunch of innocent little kids? And then I would do a riff or two on how dumb my brothers and I were.

How dumb were we? We were so dumb if you'd asked us which president was buried in Grant's tomb, we would have said Abraham Lincoln. We were so dumb if you'd asked us when the War of 1812 took place, we would have said we didn't know. We were so dumb if you'd asked us if those jokes I just made were funny, we would have laughed some more. And we were so dumb if you'd ask us if cars from Germany could fly, WE WOULD HAVE SAID JAWOHL!

(But only if our eyes were closed.)

The story always got a few laughs, and it still makes me smile. So does my dad. Even in his 80s, that guy still has a knack for bringing the party with him.

Here's another thing. Occasionally when I'm in the mood, I like to look up and imagine what an actual car full of actual kids streaking across the sky might look like.

Ohmygosh, I would say. A flying Volkswagen!

Thanks for that, Dad. You know.

The magic part.

Happy Father's Day.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.