Two Cars. Two Names.


I don’t know if I ever mentioned it here, but our vehicles have names.

Shortly after we bought our minivan last December, Miss C dubbed it as Amelia, after her idol Amelia Earhart. At the time, she was reading a biography on the American aviator (whose lineage came from Germany, by the way), and thought it was a good name.

And with a bit of dark humor, I found it especially appropriate since our van, which can really fly down the highway, came with a lot of bells and whistles, but alas, it didn’t come with a navigation system.

The name stuck. Amelia the Minivan.

Last month, Miss C and I were driving around in my Honda, which I bought brand-new when we moved here to the Washington DC area in 2005. During our drive, Miss C wondered if it, too, had a name, and when I admitted it did not, she decided we needed to come up with one.

We agreed the name should be similar to Amelia, in honor of someone legendary, and she pondered if there were any other females who set some sort of transportation record.

I immediately thought of Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space.

This, of course, led to a great conversation about everything I knew about Sally Ride. As I was a child of the 1980s, Sally Ride was one of those living legends for me. I remember watching videos of her talking about space and NASA. Sally Ride was NASA for me. After her first flight into space in 1983, more American females joined her, and it became the norm to see a mix of men and women climbing aboard those flights into space.

Plus, in every single photo I’d ever seen of Sally, she was wearing blue, which just so happens to be the color of my Honda.

So that was it. Our vehicles had names after two really awesome women. When we want the kids to run out and pile into a particular vehicle, we let them know if we’re taking Sally or Amelia for the trip.

In an interesting twist, both those women are in the headlines today.

Today is Amelia Earhart’s birthday. Google’s honored her with a beautiful doodle. There was also a recent exploration of an island believed to have been where her aircraft went down when she went missing all those years ago.

And yesterday, Sally Ride passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61.

It may be silly to name vehicles, but it would be even sillier if my kids didn’t know about Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride. Every time someone new gets into our vehicle, our girls are ready with the introduction and background on the namesake. Both namesakes were such trailblazing women who no doubt introduced girls to aviation, flight, space, and science. And though both were taken way too soon, they crammed so much life and personal accomplishment in their years, all while using their name and prestige to support others along the way.

Two cars. Two names. Two legends who inspired, and will continue to inspire, young girls that they really can go anywhere.