After I wrote about my childhood family road trips in the Mother Appreciation Issue (May 8), almost all my friends rushed to tell me about their family vacations, more often than not featuring that automotive emblem of postwar suburbia, the station wagon. But cars of all sorts manage to awaken both memory and desire, as I learned last weekend at the classic car show that''s a popular feature of Lexington, Kentucky's annual Concours d'Elegance. About 250 cars—including 85 examples of the Alfa Romeo marque that was featured at this year's event—took over the lawns of Keeneland's thoroughbred race course.
Bob Lykins had brought his 1930 Model A. He often gives rides to his grandchildren (talk about a family road trip!), but gets an even bigger kick out of taking local veterans out for a spin. ''One old gentleman told me that he could remember the sound of his father turning his Model A into the driveway after work while his mother was cooking dinner. It was such a happy memory,'' Lykins told me.
But cars are surely also the stuff of dreams. Young boys and middle-aged men alike seemed ready to squeeze behind the wheel of sleek race cars, while a few women (my friend Patti and I among them) dreamed of driving the Amalfi coast in a zippy Alfa Romeo with red leather suitcases made to match the red leather upholstery.
And who wouldn't dream about possessing a 1930s Rolls Royce coupe, a dark green 1941 Dodge Custom Coupe with its gullwing hood, or a 1938 Packard Super Eight with a Lalique hood ornament that lights up in the dark? ''Sometimes I go into the garage at night and just look at it,'' the Packard owner admitted. ''It's just so pretty.''
Photos by Patricia Harris for the Boston Globe