It happened while attending my high school graduation "Grad Night" party at Disneyland in June of 1967. We were bussed to the party and told that we would receive our tickets to enter Disneyland as we got off the bus. As the bus pulled up to its stop in the parking lot, all of us excited graduates rose from our seats to exit the bus and get our tickets. I was sitting in an aisle seat and facing me was a girl who was sitting in the aisle seat directly opposite me. Being a gentleman, I allowed her to go first and enter the main aisle of the bus. I exited directly behind her, and we received our tickets to Disneyland one by one as we exited the bus.
That night Disneyland was giving away to one lucky graduate a brand new 1967 Mercury Cougar (the first year of their existence). At midnight they announced the winning ticket number of the car. I never heard the announcement, but one of my friends came running over to me and excitedly said, "Check your ticket, Mike! I think you may have won the car!" I looked at my ticket number and it was one number higher than the winning number. Yes, because I was a gentleman and let that girl get off the bus before me, she was given the winning ticket for the Cougar! I immediately ran over to see the car that was almost mine....a shiny, gold, beautiful Cougar. I couldn't believe my rotten luck. Out of thousands and thousands of graduates from high schools all over Southern California that were at Disneyland that night, I was one number away from winning that beautiful car because I was a gentleman! I never got over that night and thought about how close I came to winning a car of my dreams for many, many years.
Fast forward 45 years to 2009. I decided to buy my first classic car and wanted to buy one from my high school years. My wife says, "Why don't you look for a Cougar, like the one that you almost won on your high school graduation night?" I thought that was a great idea to finally rewrite history but knew that finding one that I could afford would be extremely difficult. To make a long story short, I was lucky enough to find one the very next day only an hour way and in excellent condition. It was a '68 one and not a '67, but I didn't care as I finally got the Disneyland car!
Today, my wife and I thoroughly enjoy riding around in our beautiful classic Cougar and entering classic car shows in our area. We always get stares and "thumbs-up" from onlookers wherever we go. It only took me 45 years to get the car that got away!