When you grow up in the country, the highlight of a boys day is when a nice car drives by. Many times while cutting the grass, I would find myself stopping to watch something new drive by from GM, Ford, Chrysler, or AMC. Sometimes it would be a Camaro, or a Mustang, other days it might be a Cuda, or an AMX. The blue's, the red's the yellow's, or maybe bad-boy black. All I knew was, that if I saved my money, one day everyone was going to like my car, and I was certain that it was going to be "cool", and the envy of all my buddies.
So year after year, while working for neighbors, I would save my money, doing anything that I could to make a buck. Luckily, most of our neighbors had farms, that required a lot of manual labor. Some days I might be picking corn, tomatoes, cucumbers or beans. Other days, I was planting flowers, or cutting someone's else's grass. Each time I was paid, I would take my days wages, count it on my bed, and then add it to an old Kerr canning jar that served as my Piggy Bank. Saving for "the day" that I would be buying my new set of wheels.
My dad, was like every other dad. He couldn't understand, why I couldn't be happy with an old barely running discarded car that might cost seventy-five or a hundred bucks. He, constantly told me his childhood stories, about what he had to drive, how he walked both ways to school uphill while he carried his shoes, and telling me not to waste my money on something that I didn't need. When I would ask him to co-sign for a car, he would tell me " you have got to be kidding me, why don't you buy and Eldorado Convertible". I remember thinking, "why in the hell would anyone want an Eldorado Convertible, when you could have a Dual Quad Chevy, or a Six Pack Chrysler". At 18, I would have given anything for something with a loud exhaust, white lettered tires, and Cragar's.
One day, I remember my father telling me, "if you can find a dependable safe car for less than fifteen hundred bucks, I'll co-sign". I wasn't sure what prompted his moment of weakness, all I knew, it was it was time to make it happen. Was it that he finally felt that I deserved a nice car? Was it that he finally realized how important this was to me? I later found out, that his plan was do what ever it took to get me to move.
I wasted no time going to the local Chevy Dealer, to see what they had for sale. My father was noted for saying something one day, and having amnesia the next. So there I found myself walking up and down the used cars, and there it was. A 1969 SS/RS Rallye Green Camaro, just begging me to buy it. It was love at first sight. Bucket Seats, 396/375 HP, Turbo 400, Endura Bumper, and Dual Exhaust.......Oh My God, wait until my buddies see this. I just had to have this car.
I had the Used Car Manager George Brown call my dad, and tell him how reliable this car was, and convince him, that this was the deal of the century. After about five minutes of persation, my father told Mr. Brown to sign his name, so he didn't have to drive up to the dealership, and that he was good with the Camaro if Mr. Brown thought it was a good deal. Obviously, my dad had no idea of what he was signing for. What a day.....you have got to be kidding me.....I was buying a 69 CAMARO.
I remember driving home, pulling in the driveway, and seeing the look on my dad's face. I was certain that he was going to be just as excited as I was. After all, it was a 1969 Camaro. As I stepped out beaming with delight, I asked him, "well, what do you think", to which he said, "what the hell is that"? I said, "My New Camaro", to which he said "take it back". I told him, that his buddy, the Used Car Manager, told me that all sales were final, as my dad had him sign his name.
I loved that car. Cruising Gratiot, going to Detroit Dragway one day, and racing at Motor City Dragway the next, along with an occasional unsafe start ticket. Not to mention, the girls really dug it. Every spare nickel I had, went into that car. Cragar's, header's, an eight-track tape player, and premium gas at 52 cents a gallon. Blond's, Brunette's, and even a few Red-Head's, and sometimes out cruising with my buddies all night long. Life was good, until one day, when I ran my baby broadside into a garbage truck, and totaled it.
I never got a chance to say good-by to her. She was abruptly taken away, but I will never ever forget the laughter, the good times, and the challenges that she helped me through. I learned, that a car just like a dog, can be a boys best friend. That if you love her, and take care of her, she usually will be there for you.
It now, has been almost fourty years, and I am about to assemble another 1969 Camaro, that will be exactly like my "first" good car, a Rallye Green, SS/RS, Bucket Seat's, 396/375 HP, Turbo 400, Endura Bumper, and Dual Exhaust .
The only thing different today, is no monthly payments ............ "Life is Good"