This month, beleaguered General Motors announced that after 83 years, it was finally eliminating its Pontiac division in hopes of averting bankruptcy.
This news catapulted me back to another time, when Pontiacs were Kings of the Road. I was also awash in Pontiac nostalgia because the first family car I really remember was a Pontiac.
With the outbreak of World War II, automakers ceased production. With the return of peace, Americans were eager to take to the highways once again .
The pent-up desire was fueled by cheap gas, big postwar salaries, and a desire to drive the fastest and most stylish models Detroit could provide.
My family was like everybody else's. My parents drove a 1940 blue two-door Plymouth convertible coupe, which was impractical once they started raising a family.
They ditched the ragtop in the late 1940s and purchased my grandfather's 1947 black two-door Buick Roadmaster Sedanet which mother always referred to as a "Buick turtleback."
I think all of that climbing into the back seat - which meant passengers in the front had to lean forward or get out to allow rear occupants to enter or exit - finally got on my father's nerves.
Mother was given the Buick, and one day a brand-new four-door 1950 Pontiac Chieftain arrived in our driveway. Sitting behind the wheel was my smiling father, a proud Pontiac papa to be sure.
Two things my father never ordered in his cars were a clock and a radio. He believed that Detroit was incapable of building a car that had a clock or a radio that worked beyond the expiration of the warranty.
It wasn't until 1965 that he decided significant technological advancements had been made by the wizards in Detroit, and that clocks and radios in cars were a worthy investment. He even went overboard that year, and in a sudden fit of expansiveness purchased a car that had air-conditioning. My mother no longer had to anchor her hair with a scarf and no longer would we be beaten by turbulent winds during the summer months.
But back to the 1950 Pontiac: He rigged a 1920s Elgin pocket watch to the dashboard, and that was our clock.
For entertainment, my older brother carried a transistor radio that was forever crackling and popping as stations faded in or faded away, depending upon our proximity to cities.
The Pontiac held many mysteries and joys for a child.
It had a starter button, which when pressed caused the engine to turn over. The steering column was fitted with a Hydro-Matic automatic transmission that had been developed by GM engineers. No more endless shifting or cha-cha dance moves with the clutch.
And there was so much room between the front and back seat, I could sit on the floor in back and play with my toys.
Interior seats were covered in gray broadcloth that was quit itchy when I was wearing shorts. It also had a rear armrest that separated the back seat, a convenience for passengers, and a perch for me.
A cord that held a lap robe was suspended from the back of the front seat. During the winter months, my mother would hang a plaid blanket that reeked of mothballs for about a month. No one ever used it because the Pontiac had a heater that rivaled a Bessemer converter.
But best of all was Chief Pontiac. Back in the days when cars still had hood ornaments or gimcracks, as they were called, we had the noble Chief Pontiac.
At dusk, when my father turned on the lights, Chief Pontiac electronically sprung to life in all his amber glory.
My brother and I felt safe and cozy in the back seat with our father at the wheel and the glowing chief in his feathered headdress leading us safely through all kinds of weather and what John Milton described in Paradise Lost as "Chaos and Old Night."
By 1954, my father had submitted to the station wagon craze, and a green-and-cream Ford replaced the Pontiac as our main means of transport.
The Pontiac was bumped down in the home fleet to my mother, who always named cars for some reason or other, and christened it "Old Betsy."
She would talk to it on cold winter mornings when it would sluggishly begin turning over from its nighttime slumber. "Come on, Old Betsy," she would cajole. "Come on. Don't let me down."
"Old Betsy" hung on intact through the 1960s and into the early 1970s, when a friend of my brother's bought it for his wife.
About 1979, my mother heard that "Old Betsy" was still happily rolling along over the red clay hills of Georgia.