I’m a car lot kid. Actually, I’d like to claim that I’m the first of the Liberty car lot kids. I do have older brothers, but they were already in school when Liberty opened. I came to work with my mom in the morning and stayed with her in the office until she had to get my brothers after school. There have been many, many car lot kids over the years. Jessica and Esthela brought their baby boys to work with them, and now those boys are in Middle School. I brought my twin girls to work with me, and now they’ve started preschool.
Still, I maintain that I’m the original car lot kid. I was one year old when Liberty opened at 810 Little York in an old Fina gas station. I remember flashes, just snatches of memory from those early days. I remember eating sugar cubes when no one was looking. I remember pushing two office chairs together to make a cot when I was ready for a nap. I remember riding with my dad to exotic places like Cleveland and Huntsville, so we could buy cars at good prices to stock our inventory. I remember sitting beside my dad in musty offices and watching him negotiate the best prices for the rough, old cars they were trying to sell him. I remember stopping my dad from buying a car, because it had a rust hole in the side as big as a man’s fist that just happened to be eye level with my 4 year old eyes. I remember watching my dad and Luciano, our mechanic, re-tarring the roof of our office after Hurricane Alicia ripped it off. It’s one of my earliest, clearest memories, those two men, a drum of steaming hot tar, the sun beating down on them.
I always understood how the food got put on the table, how the clothes got on our backs, because I saw my father mopping blazing tar across our roof when I was just three years old. I understood that this was all about more than cars or money. Liberty means so much more than that. To me, it means that no job is too hard or too dirty if it’s my job to do. For the Liberty family, it’s something created from nothing, nurtured by hard work, sacrifice, and faith. It means putting good people in good cars; a mother putting her new baby’s car seat in her Ford Edge, a man hoisting his tool box into the bed of his Dodge Ram, a graduate driving his Chevy Malibu to his first job, a smiling couple driving their Jeep Cherokee to the beach, a woman putting down her hard-earned money and then driving home in her sparkling Chrysler 300. Liberty, that’s what it means; protection, self-reliance, independence, freedom, success. Liberty means something different to everyone. I’d love to hear what it means to you: the freedom to pile your friends in the car and go on a road trip, the ability to take your grandma to a doctor’s appointment, the power to open the door to your perfectly detailed car for your girlfriend, hand her a rose, and take her on a nice date. Tell me, what does Liberty mean to you?