Way, way back in 1968, I suddenly found myself in a hospital bed. I was 7 years old, and my tonsils had to come out — right now. It was an emergency. I was forced to put on a smock that tied in the back. The room was cold, and I could hear the hospital P.A. echoing outside my room. “Dr. Stern, calling Dr. Stern….” After a while, my parents left me in the care of a nurse. Then she left. But I wasn’t alone. Another boy, a little older than me, was in the neighboring bed. A machine made regular, sighing noises — like a dozing elephant. A few minutes later, a group of nurses came in with a cart — and two massive syringes with long, spidery needles. My roommate began to whimper. I quickly picked up a book my mother had brought me. I was a compulsive, addicted reader even then. It was “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.”

Another world

Alice dragged me through the looking glass with her — into a world of talking chess pieces and weird animals — and I didn’t hear or see anything in my hospital room for a long time. Then the nurse rolled in a gurney for my ride to the operating room. Strangely, I wasn’t nervous. I just wanted to get back to my book. I suspect this was my mother’s plan. I awoke hours later. My parents were sitting by the bed — both smoking like idling steam locomotives. I looked over at my roommate. I wondered how he was. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t tell my parents to get me out of this cold, scary place. My throat was on fire. My dad handed me a brand-new Don Drysdale baseball mitt. I still own it. My mother gave me ice chips to hold in my mouth. She told me to be strong and not cry. I dozed off again. I woke up, and it was dark in the room, except for the lights above the two beds. The elephant machine sighed and hissed. My parents had shown me the button to call the nurse, but I couldn’t find it. I wondered if I was dead. I found a cup with a straw in it. I sipped flat 7-Up. My throat burned and burned. Then I found my book. I read it for hours. Nurses came in from time to time, and I pretended to be asleep. I didn’t know them, and I was frightened. I read more of my book after those odd visits. I reached a strange poem — “Jabberwocky.” I had never read a book with a poem in the middle before. This passage was burned into my mind for the rest of my life: “Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub Bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!” A drawing showed the evil Jabberwock, all dangling claws, long teeth, bulging eyes and bat-like wings. I thought then that the Jabberwock was waiting for all little boys who didn’t behave in hospital. These days of the coronavirus remind me of the Jabberwock.

Through a dark glass

Our entire world now lives in fear. We wonder whether an unseen virus will wreck our lives, our families and our livelihoods. When I think of the coronavirus, I think of the Jabberwock lurking in that long-ago hospital room. Our happy world — this fussy, lavish bubble of old cars and the marvelous people who love them so much — seems far away. It feels like we’re all fighting the Jabberwock — and rightly so. When we were planning the issue you’re reading right now, I wondered whether what we put on paper would mean anything when it came off the press. Who cares about old cars in this world seen through a dark glass? I got out a copy of “Through the Looking Glass,” and I looked up the “Jabberwocky” poem. This stanza caught my eye: “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! Oh, frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy.” At that point, I knew that this terrible, lonely, scary time wasn’t forever. We’re not through this yet, and no one knows when it will be over. Still, we have each other and the lives we love.

We’re in this together

Take care of yourself, your family and your friends. If possible, take one of your cars into the sunshine — and wipe it down with a soft cloth. If possible, take it for a little drive. Listen to the confident hum of the engine and feel the joy of shifting gears. Know that Sports Car Market will arrive each month — in your mailbox or via our website. We’re all working from home, and this magazine means a lot to us. And we know it means a lot to you. It’s good to talk about cars at any time — but especially during this time. Feel free to email us! Share your stories. And, hopefully sooner than we think possible, we’ll come back through this dark glass to our bright, familiar world of auctions, concours, tours and long weekend drives with dear friends. Respect the Jabberwock, but don’t fear it. We’re all in this together, and we’re going to mash it into roadkill. ♦

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