I was driving along the other day and pulled up alongside a station wagon. It was a perfectly ordinary, smallish station wagon, with a woman behind the wheel and some kids in the back. Then I noticed a decal applied to the door.
It said, "The Josephine Rudman Wagon."
I just had time to register this when the light changed and they drove off. Now I can’t get it out of my head. Who is Josephine Rudman? The woman driving, or someone they’re commemorating? Someone else?
The way it’s phrased sounds like the way corporations or wealthy donors buy naming rights - e.g. “The Morton H. Meyerson symphony hall.”
I did a google search on the name Josephine Rudman and came up only with some genealogical websites.
I’ve decided that, since I’ll never know the real story behind it unless I happen to pull up next to the JRW again, I’m going to have to write my own story about it. I’d like to invite all of you to do the same.
Come up with a short story that explains the origins of The Josephine Rudman Wagon and post it here! Let’s see how many we get.
"Hey Claire?" Bob called. "Yes?" she answered, coming into the room and putting on an earring. "We've gone on, what, six dates? I've been meaning to ask you something for a while now." A little vertical uh-oh line appeared between Claire's eyebrows. "Okay, shoot." "Who is Josephine Rudman?" "Who is Jo-... Oh, you mean because of my car." "That's right," Bob said. "The first time we went out I noticed that your station wagon has "The Josephine Rudman Wagon" stenciled on both front doors. I didn't want to seem nosy too early in our relationship, but it's been bugging me. I'm curious." Claire sat down and looked thoughtfully at Bob, as if trying to decide whether he was worthy of hearing the tale of Josephine Rudman. Bob met her gaze, trying not to blink too much. "She was my next-door neighbor when I was a kid," Claire said finally. "She and her husband were in their sixties. I used to go over there all the time. Mr. Rudman was kind of grouchy, but she was this wonderful old character who'd lived a wild and crazy life." Claire recrossed her legs. "She pretty much always had a martini with her. I didn't know from booze at first - I was only about five or six, and I just thought she was goofy. As I grew up, though, I figured it out - and I could tell that Mr. Rudman disapproved. "Anyway, the last time I saw her was two years ago, when I was about to go off to college. As I walked up to the back door, I could hear him screaming at her for being an "immodest lush." He banged out of the house and stormed right past me without looking back. I went inside to make sure she was all right and found her standing in the kitchen looking as mad as I'd ever seen her." Claire stopped for a moment and Bob made a 'go ahead' gesture. Claire continued, "She said to me, 'That old bastard just never could stand that I have more fun than he does. It's not just my drinking, it's everything.' She picked up that ever-present martini glass and took a sip, then said, 'He's always trying to get me "back on the wagon" - well, his wagon has hard church pews instead of hay, and nobody ever kisses anybody in the dark or laughs at a dirty joke. Why the heck would I want to stay on a wagon like that?' I had to laugh with her. Then she said, 'I'll tell you something, Claire honey. The Josephine Rudman wagon is a more interesting place to be.'" Claire smiled and knuckled away a tear. "He died not long after that — I heard about it at college — and she died right before I came home for Christmas break. I was still dumping out six weeks' worth of laundry in the basement when her lawyer called. She'd left me $15,000 in her will. I spent it on that station wagon and I decided that I would always stay on the Josephine Rudman Wagon, because of the interesting places it goes."