Mundane Doesn't Describe It

For the slackatudinally challenged.

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I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting. Mark Twain, Hard work doesn't harm anyone, but I do not want to take any chances. - Unknown, I am retired and have tried to do as little as possible - slowly. Me.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The First Car

Something that was said the other day got me to thinking about my first car. I’ll have to set the place, car, and time. The place was a big shop/shed building that my father, brothers and I built behind our house. The car was an old, and I mean old, Pontiac Catalina. The time was my junior/senior years of high school, late 1960’s.

The car had gotten old and after my brother had a wreck and smashed in the right back door (a whole other story), my father who had been ready to get a new car put it in the shed. It sat for a long time until I got my driver’s license. I lived on a farm about 12 miles from town. Just a small little town, but still the only place where kids my age would be. Plus I was dating and it’s hard to tell your girlfriend, “I can’t get the car, so maybe next weekend.” At this time the only thing I could think about was my girlfriend, getting out of the house and getting away from my parents for awhile. The only solution to the situation I knew was to get the old car running, but I had a big problem. I didn’t know a thing about mechanics, but I had a buddy that did. We, by we I mean he, worked on it for a few days and got it to running. Now the inside of the car was in very good condition and everything was electric. Late 60’s that was something. If I could have afforded it and knew how, I would have put an 8-track tape player in. But I took the car as is and was happy. Everything worked inside, even the window on the door that got smashed in. The engine was pretty much shot, and brakes I really needed brakes. My buddies told me he really didn’t know about driving this car on the road.

The only thing I could think is I’m free, I’m free. I could come and go as I wanted, as long as the stuff was done I was supposed to, and, and, the biggest and of all, look out drive in movies here I come!

Although I knew how to drive, I had to learn how to drive this car. You see it was a special car. It wouldn’t go more than 45 miles per hour and did I mention the brakes. The car pulled to the left and you always had to have both hands on the steering wheel and turn it to the right until you were going down the road correctly. The brakes, oh I loved those brakes. They were power brakes and when you hit the brakes the car would lunge to the right. So in learning to drive the car you had to hold the steering wheel to the right so it wouldn’t veer over into on coming traffic, and jerk it to the left when you hit the brakes so you wouldn’t go into a ditch. It took me a few times going to town, but I got pretty proficient at driving it. Never an accident never hit the ditch and it was farm roads, so hardly any traffic. I look back today and I’m very thankful that nothing ever happened to anyone else, or me.

A car needs gas. One of those pesky internal combustion problems that still hasn’t been figured out. I was lucky enough to find an after school job at the one of the local service stations. After school I would drive over to the station and work until 9:00 pm. Back then all service stations were full service. Windows washed, oil checked, tire pressure – anything that could be checked we check it, and filled up the tank too. It was a small town and on the nights I worked I could study or do what I wanted until a customer came in. The pay back then wasn’t even that good, but it kept me in gas money and a few other things.

Back then when you’re a kid and really have no responsibilities, you’ve got a steady to go with, transportation, and just a little bit of money, all is good with the world. I remember thinking one time when I was driving along, listening to the am radio, and cruising at 40 mph, I thought, God I am so happy right now, please don’t let it end. Well of course it did. I graduated high school, the steady and I broke up, and I had gotten a job. The car you ask? Just before I graduated it finally died. It was a very sad passing for me. But I did find someone who wanted it, even as it was. I never saw it again and never knew what happened to it. But I look back now and hope the people that got it experienced the same freedom, the same joy, and the same happiness that old beat up car gave me.

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