Back in 1994 I met a young woman at our Roaring 20’s Sunday School Class. She was driving a new 1994 M edition Miata. I thought Cute Car and Cute Girl but I thought she was in her early 20’s and I was in my mid 30’s. We became casual church friends over the following years. I never did ask her age as I thought she was a dozen or more years younger than me. In the fall of 1997, I went to the class Halloween party as Robin Hood’s Unmarried man. Kathy was dressed up as Minnie Mouse in a costume she made herself. She made sure we got a picture together. In January 1998 my father was diagnosed with cancer and I was spending more time with Mom and Dad and had tired of the social scene. It was now May of 1998 and I decided to go to the annual class pre Hilton Head Party. As I was leaving Kathy arrived all dressed up as she had been at a wedding earlier.
Radio Station Z-93 was doing a series of Z-90 Free concerts and there was one coming up in June. She asked if I wanted to go and I said sure. We both got a pair of free tickets, mine were on the lawn and hers were in the seats. I gave my tickets away and we used hers. Dad was not doing well and I was afraid it may be my last Fathers day with him but he told me to go on the date. We had a great time and I realized that she may actually like me as more than a friend. By July I had found out that she was a little over 5 years younger than me.
A friend of ours decided to run for office so Kathy volunteered to drive him and another friend in the Marietta 4th of July Parade. I was taking pictures near the end and hopped on the back of the car. As we passed the viewing stand the MC announced our friend and said that it was obvious, he wanted to address the traffic congestion by putting a lot of people in a little car!
Our next date was a July 4th party and I grabbed the fogger spray instead of the mosquito spray and proceeded to foam up her legs. She laughed it off and we had a good time. Several phone calls, concerts and a movie later and it was August and my Birthday and she made a great dinner for me showing off her culinary skills. I already knew that she was the one for me. For Labor Day weekend I asked if she wanted to go to Savannah. She had never been and we went.
Our first stroll along River Street we stopped at a restaurant and she asked If I liked Oysters. I knew she was a keeper back in August as we had a lot in common and similar family backgrounds. I walked her to Forsyth Park acting as a tour guide and we sat down on a bench by the fountain. After talking for a few minutes, I got down on one knee, landing on an acorn, and proposed. She said yes and in March of 1999 we were married.
In late 2001 we decided to start the engine conversion on my Vega and get it running. Mid way through the project she appeared at the shop with a smile on her face and announced that we were going to have a baby. Work on the Vega slowed and we prepared for our first daughter who arrived in December. Mom died the following year and we moved into her house as the 2 bedroom 1 bath 1930s farm house I had been restoring since 1984 was not going to cut it. By now we had her Miata, My Vega, a parts Vega, my Pickup and had inherited both of my parents’ cars. She made the decision to sell her Miata when we were pregnant with our second daughter. Two Mazda vans and a couple more project vehicles later it was 2019. I had just retired from 29 years with the state of Georgia and decided to surprise her with another Miata. We had talked about getting her a small convertible and looked at several. She really loves MGs but wanted something reliable. We talked about the newer Miata’s but she only wanted the NA with pop up headlights.
I have known the owner of MAZCARE in Marietta since 1980, when we were fraternity brothers at Southern Tech. He had been maintaining our vans and I tasked him with finding a decent NA that wasn’t torn apart or hot rodded. 2 weeks before her Birthday I had given up on the surprise when he called and said he had a client with a one owner low mileage 90 that she was considering selling. I went and looked at it fearing it would be out of my price range but it turned out she only wanted a little more than my budget and it had just received a bunch of service.
Kathy’s birthday is December 26th and she always gets shortchanged because of Christmas. I got up early and snuck down to MAZCARE in the dark. Bolted the tag from my Vega on it and drove it home. Felt like a thief in the dark stealing a car. Thankfully the 2 officers behand me at 6 AM did not run the plate! Parked it out of site behind her van. That morning I gave her a Miata book and told her that we would find one by Spring. Later I gave her a jewelry box with a Miata keychain and a key on it. Told her to go see what it fit. She knew it was an older key and didn’t believe me when I told her it was for her van. When she stepped forward, she realized my van was not in the driveway and she saw something white behind her van. Her jaw dropped to the floor and she didn’t believe me when I told it was for her. I am the worlds worst Liar but I was able to totally surprise her.
We have good friends who belong to a Corvette Club in Florida and had made great friends and traveled all over with their club. We looked around and found the Peachtree Miata Club. After looking at the website and going through the pictures we attended our first meeting in January, 2020. It was a cold drizzly morning but we had a hot breakfast, met a bunch of people, won a door prize keychain and a hat and left with a good feeling about the club. Made the decision to attend the planning Chili cookoff in February. Unfortunately, it snowed Saturday morning and was postponed to Sunday. Kathy had to work so I lugged a crockpot full of chili and drove across town. Met a bunch of people and had some great chili. During the planning session I mentioned a new museum that was opening in Clarkesville and they were having a grand opening car show in the Spring. It was my suggestion so I was volunteered to lead a ride there!
Then the world shut down in March and everything was put on hold. The museum cancelled their grand opening car show and decided to have a soft opening a few months later. I was busy trying to figure out how to plan a ride with Steve Thoma’s help when I got a call from the than current VP. He had to step down and asked if I would fill in for a few months. I said Why not? My part time retirement job had been put on hold and I had the time. So, after 2 months with the club, 2 meetings and no rides I found myself to be the VP. Steve worked with me to get my ride planned and we held a few ZOOM Meetings. The decision was made to attempt a socially distant ride to the museum where lunch and museum were optional and on your own. With the help of Charles Samford, the 3 of us pre ran the course and discovered construction along the way. I let my GPS redirect us and the ride was nice. Only one bad intersection. Got to the museum, Charles took off and Kathy and I went in. Great little museum so I was confident that with one course adjustment we would have a great ride. Never having led a ride I was now the lead car. Drove a little slow trying to keep the cars together and deal with a faulty radio. Tom behind me told me to go ahead and pick up the pace. Unfortunately, I missed my course correction and ended up taking everyone through the bad intersection. We all made it through, didn’t lose anyone and arrived at the museum. We passed out some door prizes and about half the people went into the museum, while others went to lunch. Steve, Ramy, Captain Ron and Yoko Jaeh invited us to lunch and we had a great time. Got slammed by a heavy rain storm on the way home so the top had to go up and we realized that we needed to get the AC fixed on the car to keep the windows from fogging up!
In June of 2020 I was asked to continue as VP. The club had a few more socially distant rides and picnics, Track laps and car show at Road Atlanta and the club was Zooming again. Still no monthly meetings. We attended our first Camp Miata in Magee Valley and had a great time. Our Holiday party was cancelled and so was our planning party chili cookoff for 2021. We had a successful trip to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama in March to enjoy the museum and some exciting track laps with the Central Alabama Miata Society (CAMS). It was also our 22nd Anniversary weekend, (a week early so that we could join the club). I treated Kathy to a Historic B&B in Birmingham and we had a great time with the club all in one weekend! Now it is April and I find myself fully involved as VP, coordinating rides and getting started on planning Camp Miata for 2021. This will be the 25th anniversary of Camp Miata and the committee organizing it are planning something special.
One year as members of the Peachtree Miata Club and it has opened up our life to new adventures with new friends. Remember we are the Peachtree Miata Club and we can’t spell “CLUB” without “YOU”! Jump in, get involved and help out with activities, rides and parties. You won’t regret it!
Keep on Zooming
Kathy and Erik Hotton