Webisode No. 2: “The Personal Touch”

It’s a well known fact that attention spans are shrinking in our lovely age of technological advancement. (Blogs are probably contributing to this phenomena, now that I think about it). It’s in that spirit that the dudes are releasing webisodes- short ‘teasers’ to introduce some of the characters they’ve encountered. I’m a big fan of Tracy’s webisode, which you can watch here: http://vimeo.com/36934234

I have it on good authority that Tracy’s wife and I have a few things in common. 😉

-Amanda Smartt, Wagon Widow

P.S. All of the webisodes can be viewed on the Vimeo channel.

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Wagon Widows #4: The Crickets, The Kingsmen, and more…

December 17, 2011

It occurred to me that an original, card-carrying Wagon Owner may come across the idea of making a documentary about station wagons and ask, why? Why, pray tell, would you make a movie about station wagons?

And I have an answer.

The same reason that the Kingsmen’s Louie Louie makes your memory smile. The same reason you’d make a movie about Neil Armstrong, the color television, or Woodstock. Because the thirty year span between 1945 and 1975 was simply one of the most fascinating periods in American history. Perhaps more so than ever before, the country was changing, as were its vehicles right alongside.

The wagon is a tangible, corporeal relic of that history, a purveyor of the American dream as it stood in 1959. Just running your hands along the wood grain brings a host of memories (or daydreams, depending on your date of birth). Louie Louie isn’t so far off when you’re cruising in a wagon.

As I put on a Crickets record and dream of a time I never knew, I realize that this project isn’t quite as eccentric as I’d first thought.

Here’s to reminiscing on the good ole days I never knew,

-Amanda Smartt, Wagon Widow

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Wagon Widows #3: Wagons, Wagons Everywhere…

December 11, 2011

The only downside to all this? (And, to some if not most, this is probably not a downside, but fellow Wagon Widow Clair Baxter and I certainly feel this pain…) Everything, and I do mean everything, now relates to a station wagon in some form or fashion.

“Did you know that the Buick Roadmaster had a Corvette engine?”
“Yes, yes, you told me.”
“Did you know that the term ‘station wagon’ was coined in 1911?”
“I think I heard that once or twice or fifteen times before.”

You get the picture.

Another example: last night, at the conclusion of a very lovely wedding reception, my very lovely husband turns to me and says, “Babe, don’t you wish we would have gotten married two years later so we could have had a wagon-themed wedding?” I have no idea how he’s learned to read my mind with such acuity.

Next step, Wagon ownership…


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Wagon Widows #2: So, how in the world…?

November 25, 2011

How did all this station wagon filming get started, you ask?

Well, if you want to go all the way back…
On December 22, 1985, Christopher Michael Zaluski was born to Mr. and Mrs. Michael
Zaluski at Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio. Exactly eight months later, Samuel Read Smartt, III was born to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Read Smartt, Jr. at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, TN.

Skipping a few important details, various, pre-destined events brought them both to Wake Forest University twenty five years later to pursue a graduate degree in Documentary Film.

The pair unknowingly moved into rental houses not two hundred yards from each other in the fall of 2010. Several months after grad school began, it was time to select partners for the thesis film,  the central project of the Documentary Program.  Sam’s editing experience and Chris’s camera and technical skills led the two to pair up for their project. An article on Volvo’s 2011 discontinuation of the station wagon precipitated a more-than-healthy curiosity on the subject… why was the wagon being discontinued, and what did this mean for American culture and the American dream? They just couldn’t get it out of their heads.

Fast forward through several months of planning and lots of phone calls to the president
American Station Wagon Owners’ Association, and we arrive at the present: thick in the
production/editing stages of this student film. Sam and Chris, (heretofore occasionally referred to as “Sis”) have taken trips to Detroit, (the trip that precipitated Wagon Widows Blog Post 1), Wisconsin, California, Canada, Illinois, and seemingly everywhere in between to document the views of current wagon owners and experts on their iconic cars and get a taste of American history to boot.

Along the way, Chris and Sam have discovered that wagon owners are not only emissaries of the past, they are unique, reflective inhabitants of modern America as well. Their vehicles the bridge between the two, these owners have stories to tell about the most emblematic car in American history: the station wagon.

More to come,

Amanda Smartt, Wagon Widow

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Wagon Widows Post 1: The Life of the Camera Man’s Other Half

November 22, 2011

It’s hot- sweltering in fact.

My clothes have not been washed for weeks, and there is little food. Dust swirls in and around our nostrils, and our ride is bumpy. My sick child moans. I wonder if this journey will be the death of us.

I am not the wife of an Oregon Trail forger; I am, in fact, the widow of a Wagonmaster.

Death, in this instance, is more figurative than literal. Sam is not dead, though I may actually kill him if he explains the difference between a station wagon and a crossover one more time. It’s hot because the thermostat is broken and I’ve yet to join the smart crop of women who can handle heat problems on their own. Our clothes are dirty because I loathe doing laundry; food is scarce because he is always more efficient at the grocery store (and gets a student discount), so I avoid the place like I would the plague. The ride is bumpy because a lug nut or an axle or some other vital part on my Honda is loose, and while I can (theoretically) change a tire, I can’t fix or even begin to guess what that noise is.
It is dusty because Sam’s allergies are my one and only reason for picking up a cloth and some Pledge, so when he’s gone, the surfaces take on a very Kansas-circa-1933 look. Marry Poppins would not approve. Our sick child is actually my puppy, Darby, who may as well be a child, and may as well have typhoid instead of “I-just-ate-another-questionable-plant -in-the-backyard” fever with the way she’s groaning. Sam usually handles these sorts of crises.

So where is my grocery-buying, puppy-soothing, thermostat-adjusting other half? He’s filming cars. Station wagons, to be exact.

I cringe at the rickety fracas of the Honda and remind myself that sacrifices are necessary when you are indelibly linked to a man who follows a higher calling. (Well, they’re not exactly higher, per say, but definitely wider, and longer… and large enough to fit a 4×8 sheet of plywood in the back).

Will I make it? Probably. Will Sam be sleeping on the couch if he brings home a station wagon?


Better yet, he could take a pillow right on out and cozy up in back seat- I’ve heard (several dozen times) how spacious they are.

Ta ta for now-

Amanda Smartt, Wagon Widow

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