Bill P 1966 Ford Mustang 2dr Convertible

Summer of Love, East Coast style

With one kid in college and another two to follow in a few years, money certainly must have been tight for my folks. As a result, my dad had always bought practical, used station wagons for the growing family. But recent business travel in a rental convertible along the California coast had given him the itch for something sportier.

I had a paper route and my teen-aged older sister had a part-time job. We had saved our earnings, so we loaned Dad the money to buy a gently used 1966 Ford Mustang. It was powder blue, and a convertible to boot. He loved driving that car, and we often put the top down to cruise the nearby beaches and coastal roads of Newport, Rhode Island.

Early one Sunday morning before church, Dad and I were out driving along “Second” Beach, known for its mile-long stretch of white sand and dunes. Scores of tents were set up on the beach, along with their just awakening, free-loading owners. It was during the Newport Folk Festival, and it looked like a Summer of Love, East Coast style. A young couple ran past in the bright sun, and as a curious near-teen, I happened to notice that they didn’t have a stitch of clothing on as they ran past us across the sand. Dad noticed too, looking at the couple, then at me. Not a word was spoken, although I thought I detected a slight smile on his face. Dad then gave me a look that I could only interpret as “…and not a word to your mother about this.” We made it back home soon afterwards, and it remains my favorite memory that life really is better in a classic.

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