1985—The Frog
Our family was a distinct oddity in Arlington, in a number of ways. If our neighbors included other households of nine, I wasn’t aware of them. The local phone book listed three Andersons (in contrast to several pages of us in Kaysville.) Through the Seventies, while we were accumulating, and already numerous but still mostly small in physique, and while seat-belts remained optional, our beloved Brunnhilde provided all the transportation we needed.
When she broke all our hearts by rusting out, we resorted to the second-hand market for a couple of Van Wiggles (Vans Wiggle?). We often expressed gratitude to kindly Providence for Timbaloo’s walkable proximity to the Arlington Auto Clinic, just the other side of Mass Ave, on Lowell Street at the bottom of our hill. Its genial proprietor, Steve (I really want to remember his Italianate surname) and his associates kept our spacious jalopies running much longer than we had any right to expect.

Then, when we could no longer eke out any more miles from our Teutonic rust-buckets, Steve became even more an indispensable benefactor to our family, as he brokered our purchase of this nine-passenger 1978 Ford Econoline van from the pastor of the local1 Lutheran church.
We celebrated this miraculous acquisition by undertaking Chapter Four’s only international family excursion. The details glimmer, but we clearly drove our thus-far-unnamed new mechanical family member north, through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont into Québec, where this snapshot documents the occasion for posterity. If your eyes’ acuity exceeds that of mine, you can perhaps verify that the original letters “ F O R D ” still adorn his nose.
It was not long, however, before Rebecca and I drove him down to the junk-yard quarter of East Cambridge, acquired the “ O ” from a similar vehicle, hack-sawed it into the “ G ” that you behold here, and transmuted “ F O R D ” into the new “ F R O G ” that designated our signature conveyance forever after.
Through the next winter, the Frog retained his original color-scheme, while I laid plans to apply Bond-O and elbow grease to the extensive rust-spots that you see in the Canadian shot above and which, we suppose, moved our Lutheran friends to dispose of him to our advantage. Then, come spring, I gained in the most practical manner imaginable the fervent respect and admiration that I still retain for anybody who makes his living in the auto-body business. Finally, a professionally-applied, almost-iridescent deep green concealed my manifold clumsinesses, and we drove away from the paint shop in Our Beautiful Frog.

That’s day-care client Merielle Stamm, giving evidence of some fascination with the Frog, at the annual Arlington Ward Campout at the Joseph Smith Birthplace.

1Located about a mile south of Timbaloo, now (since the Turn of the Millennium) just across Route 2 from the Boston Temple.
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