The VW Bus


1971 Volkswagen Bus

In our own version of “That 70s Show” , we were caught up in wedding and relocation plans, just a few short months after college.


Jim and Van 1973

The year was 1973. The clothes were polyester, the colors and patterns were hideous. The furniture was tacky. Our hair was too long and my skirts were too short. The beginning of us.

My plans for a Spring wedding were thwarted when Jim accepted a job at an interview in New York City. I remember how excited I was to come home and find the note: “Gone to NYC for interview”.

My heart leaped. New York, my childhood dream realized.

He had been working for a few months at a Pennsylvania steel mill; operating an overhead crane, loading massive steel plates into railroad cars. To me, it always seemed like an adult version of playing with Tonka trucks.

My Dad pulled some strings to get him into the union. The pay was exceptional for the times. He rented an apartment near my childhood home while we made plans.

The interview came out of nowhere. He took a phone call that morning after working an overnight shift. They discussed his resume a while when he was invited to drive up for a personal visit.

The job was not in NYC. It was in Salt Lake City, Utah. He followed up with a visit there, finalized his decision; they wanted him by December 1.  This was September.

We moved up the wedding to November. It is amazing how quickly things fell into place. We had a formal church wedding, with about 150 guests.

We traded my first car, a 1967 Ford Fairlane, for a 1971 VW Bus.

One week after the wedding, we celebrated Thanksgiving with family and packed everything we owned into that VW Bus and headed west.

After an adventurous trip across the frozen tundra that is the U.S. in late November, we landed in Salt Lake. We checked into a hotel while we looked for housing. We were the only guests there without skis.

It took about 2 weeks to find, furnish and decorate an  apartment. We started with nothing more than our clothes, personal items, a really good stereo system, and the cash gifts from our wedding.


Van and Jim 2013

This qualified as our honeymoon. We are still together.

What we didn’t realize is that these “adventures in moving” were to define our life for many years to come. We moved about every 4 years for the first few decades.

But, it all started with that green and white VW bus.

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24 Responses to The VW Bus

  1. mandy says:

    Oh, you bring back memories of my day and age, including the VW bus. Love that, “hair too long and skirts too short”. Yep! 🙂 This is a lovely piece, Van. You’re a beautiful couple!

  2. You haven’t changed much, ok maybe your hair is shorter and your dress is longer.
    Great memories never get old.

  3. Changed a lot on the inside, not so much on the surface. Thank you, Eddie.

  4. Such great pictures!!!!

  5. What a wonderful capture of time. =) Beautiful pix. I grew up in NYC and went to Univ of PA!

  6. Maria says:

    Aww I love this post so much! Thank you for sharing, and I love the pics too!! You both looked soo cool back then 🙂

  7. Angie Mc says:

    I grew up in PA, had the NYC dream, fell in love and married a cute guy, moved 14 times in our first 14 years of marriage. Still married 😀 Oh my gosh I love the way you narrate your life story, Van! Thanks so much for sharing. And…my 15yo son is saving his money for an old VW bus!

    • We seem to have lived a bit of a parallel life, how amazing is that ?? Yet, in total, we have only moved 13 times, this last move was back to his corporate headquarters, so…we’ve been stuck here since 1996 ! The VW bus…really ? Advise him to never take it into the mountains, especially in winter. ☺

      • Angie Mc says:

        I stopped counting our moves after 14! Gratefully, we’ve been established here for 11 years and I’m happy to call Arizona home. And I will tell my son your advice! But he’s pretty convinced that the VW bus is cool 😀

  8. lbeth1950 says:

    It ‘s wonderful to share so much history, isn’t it.

  9. cyndiraymond says:

    Sure enjoyed this story-We hope to have some sweet stories like this someday. We are brand new to the vw bus world and hope to make some connections. My 12 year old grandson, Jude, has always wanted a bus so we just bought him a 1971 running bus. He and his Dad are making this a father/son 4 year project (we hope to lessen some of that video gaming time the kids do today) while ending up with Jude’s dream bus. If anybody would like to follow him (he started a blog for his progress and adventures) it is He is just realizing how many cool people love the vw bus out there and is so excited to learn about this and loves to hear the stories and adventures people have had.

  10. badfish says:

    oh GAWD…that first photo could be me and my first wife, and that van could be any one of the ones I owned! And you guys haven’t changed at all! Well, OK, a little. Thanks for linking this to me!! Such a treat. Are you writing a memoir?

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