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Years Before 'The Wave,' A Wave Defined My Dad

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Dad's temperament mirrored the land on which he was raised - even, predictable, solid. But for me, the daughter of this no-nonsense, live-by-the-rules father, it was "the wave" that revealed his approach to life.

In the late 1920s, our family moved from Chicago to the then-small town of Downers Grove, Ill. Since we could no longer depend on public transportation, Dad was forced to purchase a car.

I use the word "forced" advisedly With little resistance, Dad became the proud owner of a Buick. He hovered over it, checking the oil more often then required, polishing off spots that didn't exist and monitoring the cleanliness of our shoes before we were allowed access to the back seat.

The rest of us shared his enthusiasm. Unencumbered by timetables and predetermined destinations, we'd drive around marveling at the car's mechanical prowess.

My brother, Bill, and I even looked forward to trips to Chicago to visit our grandparents. It was on one such trip that "the wave" became a byword in our family.

Bill and I, relegated to the back seat, scanned the level countryside for cows and horses. I'd counted up to 47 when a passing car obscured my view. As it passed us, all the occupants waved.

Mom scowled. "Someone we know?" she asked.

"Some dumb fool," Dad muttered. "He's going at least 45."

In a few minutes, Bill called, "There's that same car parked on the side of the road."

"Big hurry to get nowhere," Dad grunted.

BUT the "nowhere" seemed to be a place where the car could lie in wait for us. In minutes, Bill stopped adding to his count of farm animals and focused on the car behind us.

"Dad, here comes that guy again," he called. "Speed up! We can beat him!"

"Yep, guess we could." Dad glanced at the speedometer, which registered 35 miles per hour, "but I'm already doing the speed limit."


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