Saturday mornings when I was growing up, 10am was a sacred time in our house. Every week, my dad turned the radio to our local public radio station. And on the hour, our home—or, if we were out and about, the Shempmobile (my dad’s peeling paint minivan)—was filled with the boisterous belly laughs of Click and Clack, the brothers behind the call-in show Car Talk.
I didn’t know anything about carburetors or timing belts or spark plugs (and, ah, still don’t). But the hosts’ mischievous sense of fun and the joy they so clearly found in the show was contagious. I found myself giggling along with Click and Clack as they helped (and poked fun at) the drivers trying to figure out what was wrong with their rides.
My favorite parts, of course, were when the brothers asked callers to mimic the noise their car was making. Their attempts to replicate the kathunk-crunch or wheeeeewheeeewheee or pathudpathud sound effects cracked me up every time.
Better yet was the way Click and Clack’s commentary made my dad laugh. An especially hilarious moment would leave him with tears streaming into his beard; once or twice a show, he’d end up in a coughing fit from laughing so hard.
Tom Magliozzi, the elder of the brothers, died on Monday. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, but an interview I heard yesterday with Car Talk’s executive producer said that he still laughed at jokes, even near the end.
NPR has been rerunning old shows for a while now, and I imagine they’ll continue to do so despite Tom’s death. But this week, I’ll miss his unapologetic passion for cars and helping people. He and his brother, Ray, brightened my childhood.
In his honor, I’ll be making car sound effects as I vrroooom around town. Rest well, Tom.