Sunroofs, T-Tops, and Law; Visiting Dad at Work

The 80s brought knee-high socks with colored stripes, video arcades with Pac-Man and Centipede, and T-Tops for hot cars like Corvettes and Datsuns.  In 1982, I wore the socks, Jeff went to the arcade, and dad quit his job as a mechanic to open up a shop putting T-Tops and sunroofs in cars.


For his birthday that year, Jeff got a whole roll of quarters to be spent at Malibu Grand Prix Arcade.

The shop was full of dreams:  a whole cabinet of spray paint where the cabinet door was used to color test, two packets of fabric samples with names like argyle 6 and traditional chocolate, and hundreds of scraps of multi-colored wire that could be twisted into balls or glued to construction paper.

But the shop was off-limits; dangerous and full of tools.  On rare winter Saturdays, when dad had to get some work done, he would take us to his work and we had to sit in the waiting room and shoot rubber bands at each other or dare one another to drink from the hot water machine.

One Saturday in ’83, dad loaded us into the van and took us to work.  We walked into the waiting room and sat.  Dad smiled and asked, “do you guys want to go into the shop?”  We jumped and ran toward the shop.  “I call the spray paint,” I yelled as I ran.  As soon as the carpet changed to concrete, my jaw dropped.  There, in the middle of the shop, was a bright pink, stretch limousine.  We ran to the back door of the car and pulled it open.  Inside, it was big like our living room, with fancy china-rose leather seats and automatic door locks.

There was a hole in the roof where the sunroof was being installed and we took turns peeking our heads out.  Dad brought the camera and took pictures of us.  We blinked at the flash and the 80s turned into the 90s.  Knee-high socks gave way to ankle-high, arcades gave way to home video game systems, and T-Tops gave way to common sense and dad closed the shop.  The pictures from that Saturday are the only ones of us ever in the shop.

I search each time I go back to the house I grew up in for those photos… until I can find it, this one will have to do for now.

There’s no shop where I work.  I have no awesome multi-colored wire pieces, just a series of offices, a conference room, and a courtroom.  Last week, though, I had a visitor.  While I wish I had a pink limo to show him, he was pretty happy just to have some papers to crumple.

About Jimmy

The stories herein are about a sentimental 80s child who cried at every showing of ET (the sad part where he was lying in the wash) and his families, then and now. His wife, son, parents, and siblings play their parts well. They have their exits and their entrances. Sometimes their exits are sad, but not as sad as ET.
This entry was posted in 2nd Grade, Life, memoir, Nostalgia, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Sunroofs, T-Tops, and Law; Visiting Dad at Work

  1. inkline says:

    Babe, maybe we’ll find the pictures next month when we go back to that house where you grew up…where grandparents are waiting to see Zach.
    Zach is thrilled each time we walk into your office – as long as you are there. And when your coworkers stop us to play with Zach on the way to seeing you, if he hears your voice, he won’t stop looking for you down the hallway.
    Soon it’ll be another office in another state. But I think he’ll still like stopping by, as long as you have a keyboard…and as long as your MOTU guys are on the shelf…and as long as you’re there.
    This was a nice story. 🙂 Of course you called the spray paint.

  2. Bird says:

    I really liked this post. It reminded me of when I went to my dad’s auto parts store when I was little. Sweet baby in your picture, too!

  3. Dor says:

    Another post that takes me on your magic carpet back and back…. and then plunk, it’s your little guy exploring the future. You are a remarkable writer.

  4. terry1954 says:

    all the things of interest you pointed out brought back such fun memories…..thanks

  5. Mom says:

    Nice story Jim. The trouble with those striped socks was we never seemed to have two that matched. There was always one blue, one green and one red. Seems like a great marketing plan.

  6. Nice post.
    My Dad was a commercial fishermen and owned his own boat, I never thought of that as a cool job (I guess because I’m a girl) but your post made me think…
    My Dad had a pretty cool job too!

  7. Dianna says:

    It’s so nice watching Zach growing up through your photos. He’s becoming quite interested in the camera!
    Nice post – as usual.

  8. Mama J says:

    Love the 80’s! I’ve always wanted a sunroof.
    Zach looks so sweet cosying up there!

  9. Maxi says:

    Fantastic photo of the pink limo, brings back memories. Your little guy is startin’ to get big. Blessings to you and the family – Maxi

  10. I happen to have one of the twins with me at work today! I couldn’t do ‘bring your kid to work’ day a couple of weeks ago, so they’ve each come on a different Monday. After helping me shelve books and checking out books to kindergarteners, he gets to see what I do with the rest of my time — ha ha – I work on my blog and read other blogs!!!

    Loved your post today – it totally reminds me of MY dad, because he ALWAYS had cars with T-tops in the 80s (Datsuns and then Nissans). I loved going on rides with him on nice days, when he would carefully remove the tops and put them in their individual plush-lined sleeves. Thanks for another trip down memory lane!

    • Jimmy says:

      I love it when my wife comes by work with Zach (everyone else at work loves it too because she usually brings brownies!).

      I’m pretty sure that every T-top ever invented leaked at some point. They were cool… for the 80s.

  11. Adrienne says:

    Well, for me it was the late 60’s/early 70’s and my dad was an architect. But there are times I think I remember visiting his office, hanging out and helping his secretary an watching him work more than I remember being in my own bedroom! Funny the impact that visiting dad seems to have. I love the way Dor described/captured your blog – I say “ditto” to her!

    • Jimmy says:

      Yes.. I hope Zach is able to continue to visit me and think back on those times the way I think back about going to my dad’s work.

  12. You have such wonderful stories. I love the way you connect your history with your present/future and the way it is accomplished with such wit and grace. Thank you for sharing all of this!

  13. Coming East says:

    Nothing better than to spend a few hours with dad at work. Great memories, Jim.

  14. I had to read this because you had “T-Top” in the title. Who doesn’t love a good post about T-Tops? My mom had a fire red, 1977 Chevy Camaro with a T-Top. It was AWESOME. It leaked. It buffeted. Wonderfully weird.

    I loved the story, thanks for sharing. The description of the socks, the arcade and cars took me back for sure. Such a remarkably goofy time. Thanks for sharing!!!

    Oh, and I think your son will find the uniform way cooler than any pink limo…

  15. granbee says:

    In this little guys eyes, your papers and your desk and your computer are all fabulous because they are where Dad’s lap and hugs are! And that stretch pink limo is awesome. What a fun shop that was. Most of my own children’s growing up time was in the 80’S. How well I remember those video arcades in the shopping malls and then the hand-held games and PacMan, always PacMan!

    • Jimmy says:

      I had a handheld Pac-Man and a game called Sky Attack that you held up to your eyes and played. I’m pretty sure that the batteries ran out every thirty minutes or so, but they were great fun before the era of Nintendo.

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