Never Met a Stranger: Missing Motors


By T.W. Burger

I suffer from AWAM Syndrome.

The malady can be contagious, but AWAM is mostly found among those of a certain age, especially in the US of A.

AWAM is an acronym for Anything With A Motor, and it hit pandemic proportions in the states in the fifties and sixties, at the height of our nation’s love affair with V-8 engines and big, heavy cars and trucks.

OK, there is no such thing as AWAM, as far as I know. But do not start with me…I am a firm believer in fuel efficiency and leaving a smaller carbon footprint and all that. I drive a Honda Element, for God’s sake, and it is plenty big enough.

I watch with real excitement the burgeoning of all-electric vehicles. Critics of the new technologies need to remember that they are all still newborn. When petroleum fueled vehicles were at this stage, owners had to take cans of fuel with them because there was nowhere to buy fuel once they left town.

The critics laughed and went out to feed their horses.

Today, horses are pets; playthings for those with land and money enough to keep them.

AWAM strikes me when I am out somewhere and somebody motors by with one of the big V-8s of my youth. The sound burrows down deep, way past my Go Green mentality and anything at all sensible.

The sensation is feral, a kind of lycanthropy, a memory of full moons where one recalls becoming a wolf and howling at the moon.

When you see somebody of my vintage looking a little sad when some young person rips by in a little supercharged four-cylinder pretend hot-rod, that is why. We think they sound like over-caffeinated bees. Nothing personal. It is just that we remember giants who spoke thunder.

T.W. Burger was raised in Athens. He graduated from Athens High School in 1967. He worked as a driver of everything from fork trucks to garbage trucks and concrete mixers, has been an apprentice mortician and ambulance attendant.


He has been a newspaper reporter since 1985, mostly in Gettysburg, PA, with various stints at other publications. Semi-retired, he is still working as a freelance writer and lives on the banks of Marsh Creek just outside of Gettysburg.


He is the author of "The Year of the Moon Goose" is currently writing “Never Met a Stranger.”

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