Lizzie Duke, Reporter
With hundreds of vehicles in the Pierce College Puyallup parking lots, many of them have stories someone could never guess from their chipped paint and personalized license plates. Occasionally, those backgrounds may coincide with their owner’s.
A 1969 Squareback Volkswagen nicknamed “Sugar” is often parked in Parking Lot B. The car’s driver is student Hannah Erickson, who said that this VW is the only one of it’s kind – exactly how she likes it.
“It’s stubborn, unique (and) out there,” Erickson said.
When Erickson bought the car a year ago, it was broken. But having four VW’s at her house and a dad who’s worked on VWs since he was 15, she took it as an opportunity to add to the tradition.
“It’s come a long way, but still has a long way to go,” Erickson said. “It’s like a giant art project.”
Once the car was running, she re-created the interior and her dad spray-painted the outside. The only time she’s taken it to a mechanic was when the engine needed to be rebuilt.
“You have to have time and passion for it,” Erickson said.
Erickson’s family has been part of the VW community for generations. Erickson’s a member of the German Toys VW Club. Her dad started a club called All Types which is mainly for old cars. In the club, the members drive their cars in a line like a parade.
Erickson said she loves showing her car to others. She considers herself to be shy, and prefers to express herself through the car.
“It feels good to have a cool car,” Erickson said. “(You can) make it however you want (and) dress it however you want.”
Erickson is a Running Start student and works as a barista and cook at Craft 19, a coffee shop and crepe house. Erickson hadn’t even tried a crepe before working at Craft 19. The owner is a doctor and wanted inexperienced workers because, how else will someone get experience, he said. The workers trained for three or four months with the co owner of Elements and Anthem.
“We’re still learning day by day,” she said.
Erickson is also a volunteer at Metro Animal Shelter every Friday and plans to go into the Vet Physician program at the Fort Steilacoom campus. She eventually wants to open her own business.
Another car that can be found in the parking lot is a 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis. This car belongs to student Cassie Fruin, which her husband received when trading for a rusty green car. Fruin said she fell in love with the car upon first sight.
“It brings out the good mood,” Fruin said. “It fits me and my style.”
Fruin, 30, was married on Pi day (3.14) of 2015. In her free time she listens to music, goes to church, and plays with her two cats and one dog. Fruin wants to be a nurse, which is why she is attending Pierce. Fruin describes her car as “fun and vibrant and loving.”
The outside of the car is decorated with butterfly and flower stickers. In the back and front of the car, she has a collection of Hot Wheels cars, stuffed animals, dice, Super Soaker water blasters for water fights with her husband and rubber ducks to remind her of the duck races in Montana at family reunions. She also has Tinker Bell seat and steering wheel covers.
Beneath the barely chipping blue-grey paint on the 1963 GMC Suburban is the bright yellow paint and caution signs of a work truck used to transfer people to jobs; this is, before it belonged to student Jonathan Kurtz.
Kurtz, 17, is an avid musician, dedicated church-go-er and owner of “The Beast,” the two-door trunked Suburban often parked in Parking Lot A. About a month ago, “The Beast” broke down while Kurtz was trying to leave the college and had to be towed. This was an embarrassing experience that’s made him slightly less depressed about getting a new car soon, Kurtz said.
“It’s been an adventure,” Kurtz said. “It’s taught me to be more thankful for a reliable car.”
Kurtz’s dad believes it’s important to have a cool first car, even though his first car was made in the same year as Jonathan’s. Kurtz currently uses an app on his phone to know the speed of his car, because the car’s speedometer doesn’t work. Yet, he insists it’s been a good summer car and that it makes everyone else jealous.
“I’m a bit prideful about how fun this is to drive,” Kurtz said
Kurtz is now in his second year at Pierce College Puyallup. He loves music and sings, plays the piano, organ, ukulele, guitar and bass. He keeps a music stand in the back of his suburban at all times.
Most people who regularly park in Parking Lot C have seen the bright green 2006 Mustang with ‘KatyCat’ as the license plate. This car is owned by student Rebecca Sloan, whose dream car is a ‘69 Mustang.
Though it shows no physical signs of the experience, Sloan’s car hit a tree in an accident, skidded on ice and was egged five months ago.
As for the appearance of Sloan’s car, her custom plates were a graduation present along with the car. These were chosen because of her love for Katy Perry. Sloan liked Katy Perry as a person before she got into music, but since has been to her world tour.
Sloan left high school after a bad experience, which she now appreciates because she loves college. Sloan is currently a nanny and aspires to be a teacher. After Pierce, she’ll attend Western Washington University. She loves math, music and most of all, Mustangs.
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