Riding in Cars With Me

October 2007

In the mid 1980s my brother and I started driving in a 1966 Ford pickup. It was hot -because it didn’t have a/c, although it did have a nifty floor vent thing. Dad had someone paint it, but told him when he had used up the first bucket of paint to stop. It was a medium blue on the outside with a turquoise interior. It had an AM radio good for picking up Denver stations and not much else. The speedometer did not work, so you had to kinda estimate on the fly. I don’t think anyone ever got a ticket, but that V8 would go plenty fast. After driving fast, when we parked, it would backfire, to let everyone else know we had arrived.

When we were younger, as in 10 or so, my brother and I helped the hired man completely overhaul the engine. At the time I could have told you nearly anything about how the engine worked. Since I didn’t keep up in that field though, now I can identify only what is necessary. That was when the average person could overhaul an engine. The worst thing about the pickup was the brakes, you had to pump them furiously to get any action. This probably contributed to its final demise. I wrecked it, flipped it actually, on a gravel road while trying to stop. I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone else. I think the steel in the body probably saved us. We didn’t even have a scratch.

We then graduated to my great grandmother’s 1967 Buick Electra. Now that was a car. Too bad we didn’t have a drive-in theater anywhere near, as you could fit a dozen people in the trunk comfortably. It had 6 cigarette lighters, I believe, one for each passenger. My poor kids will never learn the pleasure of scarring each other by playing with a hot cigarette lighter while on family vacations. One time I parked it in town overnight and the next morning I found a length of garden hose sticking out of the license plate (where the gas tank was). Some poor sod didn’t realize that even though the tank would hold probably 35 gallons of gas, (what was needed to drive 250 miles) I could only afford to keep 5 gallons in it. My brother ended up wrecking it though and replacement parts were not in the budget.

That was the only automatic transmission I remember driving until I was 28. In fact when I took driver’s ed, I told Mr. D. that I had never driven an automatic. This turned out to be a good strategy as I immediately grabbed his left knee which he had sprawled exactly where the stick shift was supposed to be, and slammed on the brake with my left foot. The brake on an automatic transmission is larger than on a standard, and it sticks over where the clutch should be. I repeated this several times and still managed to pass the class. The teacher got better about his manspreading after a while. Mr. D. did teach me to parallel park like a professional, and that lesson has served me quite well.

When I got married in 1997 my dowry included a plain 1994 pickup. My husband had a fancy 1997 pickup. We still have the 94, although it has several cow shaped dents as it is now the fencing pickup. We traded the 97 for a car, coincidentally just before the engine blew. I doubt it could have withstood the kind of use the old red pickup gets.

For a while we had a really sexy pickup last year, with chrome everywhere, it was the old, pretty style of Ford, like 92. It had a chrome bumper, mud flaps, running boards, bed rails, everything but naked ladies on the mud flaps. It also had a 6 CD changer and really fancy radio. Some of this should have clued us in as to the previous owner, and his probable driving habits. That pickup caused us no end of headaches, as well as a multitude minor repair bills. It had brake problems as well as some acceleration issues. At the end, my husband went to put it into reverse and the shifter pretty much fell off in his hand. He added a size 8 dent to the front fender then traded it in on a newer, plainer model, still under warranty. I wish we had at least swiped the tailgate off of it, I bet it would fit on old red.

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