A Nebraska farm boy, I was almost 13 and would enter high school that coming fall. An older kid up the road from our farm had a 1931 Model A Ford Coupe he wanted to sell to me for a school car. To say the least, I wanted it really bad. So, clearing it with dad, I took most of my savings and plunked down $40 for my first car and freedom! Being a farm kid I had learned to drive various vehicles since the time I could reach the pedals. But due to my age, I had no drivers license. Once school started I could be issued a farm permit. In the meantime, I had to keep my prize car on the country roads. If I was caught on the highway that ran into town, neither the law nor my dad would be happy with me.
Oren was my best friend from the time we were toddlers. He lived one mile up the highway. But, many evenings I’d drive the three miles on the county roads that bordered the section of land on which our farm was located to pick him up. Whoo-eee! We’d go fishing, swimming, or just cruise over to to some neighbor’s place to visit with friends. We took turns driving my Model A down those dusty roads and racking up many fun miles that wondrous summer.
Some 58 years later I was home for my yearly visit. My childhood friend had long since retired and moved back to where we grew up. One morning, he and his wife met me and mine for breakfast. As our wives chatted away he leaned toward me and said in a conspiratorial voice, “Al, why don’t you find an old Model A Coupe like the one you had when we were kids. Then bring it down for your 60th High School Class Reunion in 2014. We could toss the wives in the rumble seat and terrorize the county again just like we did when we were kids!” We both leaned back and laughed remembering and recounting some of our adventures.
I thought about for a year. Finally I decided to seriously look for a Model A. To make a long story short, I found and purchased the perfect car, a 1930 Model A Coupe with a rumble seat for our wives! It’s an understatement to say I was excited. I purchased an older pickup in good condition and made future arrangements for a trailer so I could haul the Model A to my class reunion, almost 700 miles distant.
Then came the bad news about my friend. Doctors diagnosed an advanced cancer and he passed from this life just after Christmas a year ago. He was like a brother to me. We had been friends for over 70 years. Oren was the kind of friend where if you don’t get together for a few years, you can pick up your last conversation right where you left off. He was an amazing man, a good man, and I loved him dearly.
One day to my surprise while looking through some old photos, I found one of Oren taken nearly 60 years ago sitting behind the wheel of my first Model A. A small wood plaque displaying his photo with his name engraved in brass is now attached to the dashboard of my “new” Model A. Oren rides with me in spirit everywhere. Call me crazy, but sometimes I actually feel his presence as we zip down a Montana highway...yes, a highway! I can drive legal now. No more looking back over our shoulders to see if the law is coming up behind!
Being an old Nebraska boy and Cornhusker fan there was no other choice for a nickname...
My Model A is......Big Red!