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Selling the Faithful Old Family Minivan

April 25, 2020

Another Way for week of April 24, 2020

Selling the Faithful Old Family Minivan

It didn’t really seem old to me. Why, it was a lovely 2000 year model, the first new vehicle that I’d ever owned. And the year 2000 still seems like a “new” century to me. Okay, so I need to wake up, Ms. Rip Van Winkle.

Never mind that 20 years had passed: 20 years of carrying daughters and their belongings to various state colleges. And home again after grad. Years when I rushed in the middle of the night to the labor rooms of two daughters having babies. Hauling friends and family. Trips to the beach and the northeast and many many to Indiana where my family comes from. Over 220,000 miles on the dear old van. But unlike some of my daughters who name their cars, I had never actually given that mini a moniker. Still, our memories of good times and bad rode with us in that van.

It had sustained only one very small smash up that required a bit of body work and paint by a friend. I’d kept seat covers on the seats and extra plastic mats on the carpet mats (back in the day when there was no WeatherTech or Husky mats). I faithfully tried to clean up my coffee spills as they occurred which were, admittedly, numerous. Embarrassingly numerous. The day of reckoning came.

In early February, we finally found an affordable 2017 minivan in almost pristine condition, and bought it. I could probably write a whole column about how buying a car is different in 2020 than 2000. We were so rusty and blown away by the technology. Both the new-fangled ways of operating a vehicle (cars that park themselves?) and the buying process itself had us whirling. At one point I felt I was on Star Trek or one of those modern detective shows. As the guy finished all our “paperwork,” he did so on a huge computer screen that was essentially his whole desk top. We signed endless forms with our finger tips on that screen, and he finally handed us the legal records on a thumb drive. No folder of paperwork.

Next we wanted to get our old Dodge Caravan ready to sell (we knew it wouldn’t have brought much as a trade-in). We went to a store specializing in products for cars to make them shiny and new again—and bought a spray carpet cleaner guaranteed to get out vomit, dog doo, urine and any odors thereof. I must give a shout out to E & M Auto Paint “Carpet Cleaner and Deodorizer”. The coffee stains were my biggest concerns and while not every stain came out, after the carpet shampoo and hours of scrubbing, I felt like keeping the dear old van myself.

Before scrubbing.

Same floor, after scrubbing. No perfect, but so much better.

What I liked about the spray was applying it to the floor, you could keep pressing a rag or towel into the carpet and it kept seeping up stains and residue. You didn’t have to keep spraying more spray. To me, the old van looked almost new. Yes, the ceiling fabric was hanging down in one place, there were a few scratches on the dashboard, there was a corner on the front seat that was starting to unravel a little, and a few patches of peeling paint outside. As I sadly removed three college decals from a side window, I was happy we never put on bumper stickers.

Selling a car yourself these days is made somewhat easier online. However, you have to get wise to the scammers and the false inquiries. One man looked at it who would have mostly used it for a work van. And yes, with the seats out, we agreed it would make a fine work truck. But no sale. Several weeks went by.

Then a young woman began texting us regarding our ad on Craigslist. Her husband called to talk to my husband. Gradually we learned they had four small children, and they really needed the space our minivan offered. When they came to meet us at a city parking lot, Mimi was visibly excited about seeing it. “Oh, it’s just what I wanted! The kids will love it!”

That was like music to our hearts—to hear that someone wanted our family van. We made plans to meet up the next day to complete the purchase. Later she followed up with an email: “It has been wonderful, my children absolutely love it! They don’t want to go in their dad’s car at all anymore. I can’t thank you enough.”

And that, my friends, is how we sold our 20-year-old minivan. With tears of nostalgic happiness. We hope it serves this family very well.


Your own story? Memories of favorite vehicles?

I remember my sister talking to one of our vehicles, long ago, when she said a fond farewell to it. Anyone else talk to your car?


Comment here or send to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication. 




  1. And I thought I was the only one sentimental about vehicles. I got over it, however. I enjoyed your happy-ending story.

  2. Yes, we move on. And it’s fun to see this gal around town (twice) in the minivan. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Elaine permalink

    My husband is a car buff and we have three MGs which we still enjoy taking out into the countryside here in KY. Our one and only new car was a 1973 Laguna Chevelle. We had it for about 20 years and called it Methuselah!

    • Good to hear from you, Elaine! Three MGs, wow, very interesting. I like your name for your elderly car. It must have had a good life, too. 🙂

  4. “Oh, it’s just what I wanted! The kids will love it!” must have been music to your hearts – and your ears.

    We keep our vehicles long and usually pay cash for them up front. The last card “trade” was a gift to our son when he had to pay the transfer fees on our 2003 Infiniti which we replaced with a 2019 model. He often thanks us for it. With teens in the house, they don’t need a minivan anymore; he’ll put 250,000 miles on it, probably.

    Now I’m eyeing Cliff GMC conversion van in the driveway.. It’s 8 years old, but in great condition and very much in demand. His traveling for art & music performances is dwindling. Someone would LOVE this van, but I don’t think he’s ready for a change yet: it’s a mini-office (read that, jammed with STUFF) and storage for a 4′ x 7′ easel and sound equipment. Giving up this van would equate to his reckoning with the end of a much-loved 35-year career.

    Not time yet . . . but some day!

    Great story, Melodie! “One man’s ‘trash’ is another [wo]man’s treasure.”

    • As I’m also married to a man with too much STUFF, I’m sure you can appreciate it his a mini-office. I agree with your assessment: giving it up is for another day.

      I often look at my husband’s projects and stuff and know that’s what keeps him going, to be able to create, fix, tear apart, refix and more. My piles and files perhaps don’t take up as much room but it’s heart room for exploring new ideas and old memories. More and more of my writing goes online, (or at least on my laptop) along with photos. So it goes. Thanks for showing up here so faithfully!

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