The mostly humorous ramblings of my day to day existence.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Firkroy Has Cars on His Mind

The cars of my youth tickle my brain as I look through old photos, oh to be behind the wheel of one of those rubber burning machines again.
As a young boy some of my earliest memories are from riding in the back seat of the family car. I had the window seat behind the driver, my sister had the other rear window seat, and my younger brother got a raw deal being sat in between us. Unlike today, parents back then usually put their youngest child up front with the misguided notion that they would be safer close to their parents, and that’s where you would find my youngest sister jumping around like a monkey with fleas.
Our step mother did a pretty good job maneuvering her Chevy through the streets of Portland with a cigarette hanging from her mouth, and keeping the monkey from flying out of the window. The cigarettes would be her undoing sometime in the future; she just didn’t know it yet. Before the Chevy we had a couple Rambler station wagons, hearty little cars with V8s. We had many a weekend road trip to the river in those Ramblers. Cell phones didn’t exist, but there were better distracters. Besides the bouncing monkey, my dad would have a cigarette between two fingers, and a can of beer between his legs, there were no beer can holders in Ramblers so he had to keep the can someplace as he drove. We usually met friends and family at some destination on the Clackamas River. Fishing poles and potato salad were packed for the trip, as well as the other 23 cans of Blitz for my dad and anyone else who may want one.
I loved those old Ramblers with the seat belts stuffed between the seats collecting gum wrappers, cookie crumbs, and sticky gunk. My first car was a 63 Rambler Ambassador that I purchased from my grandparents for $300. This car could burn rubber with its V8 engine and three on the tree manual transmission, but it was a car for geezers. I only drove it until I could purchase a cool car, a 1966 Chevy Impala SS.
My Impala had an AM radio, and I remember listening to tunes on KISN in Portland. I drove my Super Sport back and forth to my grocery store jobs, and out to go skateboarding with my friend Jeff and my cousin Casey. We were obsessed with skateboarding down big hills and were always on the lookout for new places to ride. If only I had that car now, I’d take it to Portland, and then cruise down 82nd just like the old days, with my arm resting on the open window nodding to passers-by. Then I’d sell that baby to a collector, and buy a new Jeep.
I stupidly sold my Impala before I joined the Air Force in 1977 for $900. I could have used that car at my first duty assignment, Beale Air Force Base in northern California. I had a bunch of cars at Beale. The barracks parking lot started to look like Firkroy’s used cars. I sold most of the cars and motorcycles that I had accumulated to others that lived in the barracks with me. One of the cars was a 1966 Triumph TR4, a British convertible with a few rough edges, and missing the rag top. I had to unbolt the hard top to drive around and feel the wind blowing through the little hair that the military would allow me to have.
I once took a trip back home to Oregon and had the coil burn out while driving through the Warm Springs Indian reservation in central Oregon. I luckily coasted into the only gas station in Warm Springs, and then got a ride from one of the employees who amazingly drove up in a Triumph Spitfire! We drove to Redmond to find a replacement coil. We knew there were no Triumph dealers in central Oregon, but luckily gas stations used to sell car parts in the 70s instead of bags of Fritos, and we found a coil that miraculously did the trick. I don’t know what coils where made of back then but they seemed to have a self destruct mechanism that waited for the worst possible time and then bang! They crapped out.
I loved those old cars, but let’s face it cars are a tremendous pain in the butt. The costs of purchasing, maintaining, and fueling them is a drag. Buying and selling them is absolutely nerve racking. I want to get around via Star Trek transporters, forget these annoying car money pits.
Beam me to a warm sunny beach Scotty; I hear a swizzle stick tinkling ice cubes, a drink with a little umbrella is calling my name.

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