Mzungu Memoirs

Caleb’s New Ride

Not too long after we moved to Uganda, our neighbor, Grandma Maggie, suggested to Caleb that he should build a cardboard General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard.  This is not an unreasonable suggestion for a creative 5 year old, unless you live in an area where construction materials, particularly of the cardboard variety are hard to come by.  It was one of the few times that I haven’t been thrilled with one of Maggie’s suggestions.

So we started collecting cardboard boxes.  When we were visiting Heritage International School in anticipation of enrolling Caleb for the fall, Caleb saw a box behind the desk of the lady we were meeting with.  I don’t remember if he point blank asked the lady for it, or if he just mentioned that he was collecting boxes.  Either way, the box was offered and gratefully accepted.  And it was a fairly large one too, at least by Ugandan cardboard box standards.

One box down, but we still needed a bunch more.  Then I remember seeing a large cardboard box in our garage.  But since we are renting the house and everything in it, I wasn’t sure if we could use the box, especially if we were going to cut it up.  Upon inquiry, Maggie (who was the one responsible for setting up our household before we arrived and therefore the person I figured best to ask) said it would be fine.

Now we had two large boxes, but we still had a long way to go.  There was a new addition to the eMi full-time staff that was having to outfit and furnish her apartment and had several smaller boxes from purchases she had made which she brought over to Caleb.  I also saved all the boxes I emptied from the kitchen, which was not as many as your average American kitchen produces but definitely more than produced by your average Ugandan kitchen.

Finally, enough boxes of various sizes had been collected and construction began on a lazy Saturday in mid-April.  The bulk of the construction was completed over the course of the weekend.  Robert even fashioned a hood and an “engine”.  Of course, he didn’t have to worry about doors “because the doors on a race car are welded shut.”  But there were still some details that needed to be completed, most notably the color.

Thus began the search for orange spray paint.  This endeavor took several more weeks.  Caleb bided his time constructing some of the finer details such as the confederate flag for the roof of the car and the license plates which he made of Ugandan flags (after all, we do live in Uganda not Georgia).  Finally, we found some orange spray paint at Game, the South African Mega store where we found some of the needed supplies for the clothesline repair.  At 20,800 Ugandan Shillings (about $9), it was quite the splurge, but we had come so far on the construction of the General Lee we just had to put the finishing touches on it.  We decided to get one can and just do the best we could with the coverage.

Caleb wasn’t going to let that can of spray paint collect too much dust, however, and was able to convince Robert to paint the cardboard car within a few days of its purchase.  The coverage wasn’t too bad.  The General Lee was now definitely orange, even if you could see some of the original markings on the boxes.

So we now have a cardboard General Lee sitting in our garage, and Caleb proudly displays it to anyone and everyone who comes to visit (I think Daddy is pretty proud of it too).  I believe construction has been completed, but every now and then Caleb comes up with one more detail to add.  The latest was the trunk.  He asked Robert to make two cuts in the rear of the car so that he could open and close the trunk.  He also had to add rear view mirrors (ya gotta know what’s coming up behind you, especially if you are running from Roscoe P. Coltrane), and he had Robert cut out a cardboard key so he could start the engine.  I wonder what he will think to add next.

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19

posted by Robert in Uncategorized and have Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Caleb’s New Ride”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Just want you to know that the Yahweh Sisterhood prayed for you all today…Of course, the Swanson family prays for you all daily. We’re very proud of you for the work you are doing.

  2. Wow! I would never have thought of a lack of cardboard boxes! That is a pretty creative kid (with a creative family.) Once Caleb starts, would you please write about the school? I’m curious what an International School is like.