Steve P 1969 Ford Mustang Grande 2dr Coupe

White Lightnin'

I met my wife of fourteen years more than twenty years ago. I was fourteen. We were twenty when we married, and I turned twenty-one after we had been married for three months, and I bought a six pack of beer. We grew-up an hour away from each other. I lived an hour east of my state's capitol city, in a small country town of about 3,000 hard-working people. My future wife was a big city girl.

My older brother got a job in the big city while he was in college there. In his job, he worked with young folks, and taught (he later became a high-school math and science teacher). My wife-to-be was one of the youth under his tutelage, and I met her, as well as other guys and gals my age, at my brother's place of employment. These city kids were especially smart and talented, so, I was a little shy and intimidated. To protect the innocent, I'll say my wife's name is Sally.

There was a Sadie Hawkins dance at the big city high school the next spring or fall, I can't remember which. It was spring, I suppose. Sally called me and asked me to the dance. My brother guilted me into accepting it by saying that I ought to accept her invitation, since it supposedly takes a lot of guts for a girl to ask a guy to a dance. Boy, was he wrong. I found out later that Sally was anything but shy. So, I went to the dance, and found out that Sally asked me because she really liked me. I liked her too, I think. Anyway, my brother guilted me into calling her and telling her that I wasn't serious about dating her, and that I lived too far away, anyway. I found out years later that he liked Sally, himself, so, he was trying to cull his competition.

Years came and went, and I met Sally again when we were about 17. Well, I was 17. She was 16. Sweet 16. Really sweet 16...

Here's how it went:

I worked on a farm helping my grandparents each summer. My grandfather was a cattle farmer, and he had a 1964 Chevy Corvair. We worked hard from dawn until sunset - literally. Some days, we'd work on the Corvair together after lunch. That's where I acquired my penchant for carburetors. See, there are no aftermarket carburetors (or, there weren't in 1996) made for the Corvair. Plus, the Corvair has two carburetors - one for each set of three pistons for it's air-cooled opposing six cylinder engine. That engine was flat - the cylinders opposed each other, like in an old Volkswagen or a Kohler motor. That means tow things. First, we had a lot of carburetor parts, and I was constantly rebuilding carburetors until I could get the right combination of parts in order to make the thing run. Secondly, those carbs had to be balanced - in addition to the thing needing to have the points adjusted periodically. Basically, if you can get a Corvair engine running, and keep it running, then you can do the same thing with any old engine, since the thing is a finicky as they come. I was 16.

The following summer, I was 17, and Sally called me. She worked at a place in Georgia during the summers, and it had a huge equine center and lawn, with hiking trails, etc. Her boss had asked her if she and some of the other folks could, when they got back home for the school year, try to recruit a good maintenance man. I had been planning to sign-up for the Army, go to boot camp that summer, and then come back and finish my senior year before going back the following summer to learn my MOS (what I would do in the Army).

After talking to my dad and grandad, they convinced me to take the summer job in Georgia for at least this one summer, and I could have time to think things through. After all, my dad had done the same thing for the railroad, but came back quick to join the National Guard before he got drafted to go to Vietnam.

So, I went. But, I only got one or two nights off per week, and I could only leave the grounds on the weekend. I made lots of friends there, and every weekend we'd all go into Atlanta and have a ball.

At the end of the summer, I asked Sally to go out on a date with me. When she asked me where, I told her that the little county fair was coming-up. She had never been to something like that. If you've ever watched Hanna-Barbera's Charlotte's Web, then you have some idea of what that fair was like.

I drove her there in my Chevy pickup - with a 4.3 litre "mighty-mouse" V6 and a Camaro ZQ8 suspension system. It was stepside, and it was Olympic White, with hollowed-out pipes, no muffler, and an empty catalytic converter. Now you know I'm not from California. That thing would scat, and the color - Olympic White - was special. The truck would have been a Super Sport had it been a fleetside automatic. But, it was better - it was a stepside 5-speed.

Before we left the fair, we had our first kiss, and rode out to the lake in the back of a 69 mustang GT. I left my pickup in the parking lot, and we were in a friend's car - and he had a date, too.

So, three years later, we married. We were married for six years before we had our first child. Now we have three kids, and I want to teach my boys how to work on old cars.

If you take a look at the picture, you'll see a 69 mustang. I had it painted Olympic White. It's a GM color, I know, but don't tell that to anyone at Ford. It's a special color. Sally always called my pickup "White Lightening," but she always liked my friend's old mustang better - except for the color. Now, she has the best of both worlds, and our boys can learn to work on carburetors!

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