By Margaret Magnus
IN NEED OF A NEW CAR
Sometime in the late 1970s/early 1980s, Agnes Baron, who was living alone at Meher Mount and taking care of the place, needed a new car. A good working car is no minor matter at Meher Mount, given its remoteness.
At that time, Agnes was a substitute teacher and obviously needed transportation to the job. She also had to drive down the hill and another 15 minutes to get her drinking water, along with groceries (the other direction) and everything else.
A $3,000 WINDFALL
At about the same time, my husband Sam Ervin and I received a windfall of $3,000. I no longer remember how or why, but it seemed particularly opportune. We decided to use that windfall to get a car for Agnes.
Sam scanned the newspapers and found that Hertz, the car rental company, had an “auction” of low-mileage, used cars on a lot near our home in Long Beach.
He and our friend Ross Kaplan went that Saturday and found a station wagon within our price range. We knew that an important criterion for Agnes was a station wagon in order to haul things.
Sam and Ross got the car and spent several hours cleaning and polishing it to make it ready to give to Agnes.
A NEW CAR FOR AGNES BARON
The next weekend, Sam and I proudly drove the car to Meher Mount – about two hours from our home – to give Agnes her surprise which we thought would make her life a little easier in managing Meher Mount.
As we presented the car to her, she responded “Brown? Brown? You got me a brown car? I hate brown.”
Furthermore, she complained that we had gotten her a Chevrolet (or maybe it was a Ford) car. “Everyone,” she says, “knows that Japanese cars are better. How could you have gotten me an American car?”
A little deflated, but still thinking she would like it once she started using it, we left the car for her.
After several visits in which she continued to complain loudly and often the about car, we finally said, “Agnes, it’s your car. You can keep it. You can sell it. You can trade it in. It’s yours to do whatever you want.”
THE RIGHT NEW CAR
The next time we visited her, she greeted us smiling broadly. She pointed to her new car, a white Toyota station wagon. She was very pleased with the car and with herself.
At least we’d gotten the station wagon part right.
More importantly, Agnes had a car that could take her up and down the mountain. She drove that car until she could no longer drive.