john s

she kept saying it was a '73,but she was slipping

Hi all, when I was a young man in the early 80's I drove a taxi in Watertown ma.(dutchy's cab) that my father and I purchased from the wife of the previous was a 1967 Oldsmobile f-85 it had an " ultra high compression" 330 c.u with a powerglide transmission and heavy duty everything under its body.I could go on forever about the fun I had booting that car around town and blowing the motor mount out of it every time I slammed it into low gear at 50-60 mph (we finaly chained that side of the motor down) and my father and I got along much better after that also.But that's not the story I have to tell , but rather a back story of the events that lead me to one of my best car finds of the era.Our dispatcher, a retired fire fighter , was known on occasions to, well let's just say , he was known to drink his lunch every once in a while. on one of those liquid lunch afternoons, he dispatched me to 59 carver road east, I pulled up in front of the address and politely tooted the horn to announce my arrival.And like clock work an elderly woman exited her stoop and made her way slowly to the car, noticing her advanced age i jumped out and assisted her, opened the back door and told her good afternoon dear, your limo awaits .she laughed at my little joke and I closed the door.As I was driving away to take her too her doctors appoint ment she commented that she loved the "new cab" and had never been in it yet.I was confused and told her its the only car we had, she told me she had been using Belmont cab and it was the shortest wait she had so far and what a nice clean cab I had.My heart jumped into my stomach as I realised I had basically stolen a fair from a large competitor , witch wasn't my slightly half in the bag dispatcher had sent me to the wrong address ,and what was the odds that my new friend Mary would be waiting for a cab at where I was sent , probably one in a million I would think.I immediately explained the mixup and offered to wait with her until the company she called arrived, after all I hadn't made it off her street at that point yet. (And being new in the business, I didn't want to make enemy's with the other company)She laughed again and insisted I take her ," your car is spotless and you actually got out and helped me " she said , so off we went , it was 1.80 fair to her appointment five blocks away when we pulled in I helped her out of the car and she asked if I could pick her up in an hour.I told her ide be happy too.In the next few months I would take her here and there from doctors appointments to food shopping , even putting her heavier grocery's away for her.She mentioned a few times that she had a 73 Pontiac in the garage that she could no longer drive, and if I would look at it and let her know if it was something I would be interested in.Now there wasn't a lot of 73 Pontiacs that floated my boat , and was sometimes rushing to my next fair, so it took some time before I actually decided to humor her and take a peak .She did seem very proud of whatever was behind that garage door, her eyes beamed when she spoke of it, she called it "the rock of gerbralter" when I finally opened the garage door I couldn't believe my eyes , it was a 63 Pontiac Catalina very well preserved also , I opened the hood and almost fell over at the sight of the 389 with the three chrome aircleaners sitting in a row and almost starring back at me like crown jewels catching the fading light .I was shocked, was Mary a gearhead in grandma's clothing??I looked at Mary with a bewildered look on my face and told her wow u really got something here Mary,its a 63 dear not a 73!.she laughed and said she only had two cars in her long lifetime, her 1st was a 37' Packard 120 sedan , she decided to replace it in 1962 but they didn't make the Packard any more so she went to Pontiac instead, She told me they were trying to push a "hydromatic" transmission on her and that she was having no part of any of that" new fangled fither Father"(her words not mine) and she demanded a manual transmission the sales man explained that he didn't have a four door in stock with a stick and she demanded he order one .and not to sell her anything she didn't need as she only wanted to spend 2000 dollars.the result was a totally stripped( and I mean stripped) 63 Catalina 389 tri-power with a heavy duty 3 on the tree dual exaust heavy duty suspension and alternator 8 lug wheel widetracker posi rear end freak of a car , with no power steering radio delete and one speed wipers (two speed if u count on and off) and all for $2003.47 .she insisted that I took the car and was insulted when I offered to pay her what she bought it for new as it only had 37000 miles on it and the visors where still in their factory cardboard protectors and the seats were covered in that thick plastic covering . I saw how proud of the car she was and agreed to take it under one condition, that she took ME for a ride in it and I would sit in the back. Just like so many times I had driven her in the back of my cab, but this time I would be the passenger.I waited as she pondered her decition and she looked at me and smiled and said "its a deal" but u have to take it out of the garage , I'm always been afraid of scraping the back where it jets out .Fair enough i said and carefully pulled it out, I was excited and terrified as I helped Mary behind the wheel, and was really second guessing my self as I sat in the back seat and closed the door.What happened next was like something out of a comedy movie, Mary just hit the gas and basically sidestepped the clutch , after I got my head out of the back deck and was able to look forward again , I saw Marys eyes beaming at me in the rare view mirror as she double clutched it from first to third "I never use that second speed she beamed , there's no need"At 87 years old Mary could still get it done!!"just keeping u on your toes" she said and then proceeded to take me for a great twenty minute ride. I will never in my life forget that ride .When I asked her why she stopped driving in the first place( thinking before I seen how well she did that she had just lost her skill with old age) she shocked me by saying she was on a fixed income and could no longer afford the tickets and insurance premiums from them .what an amazing woman this is as much of a story about her as it is the Pontiac she gave me.

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