I drive a pickup that’s a mere 12-years-old. Sure, it’s got scratches, dents, a tricky tailgate and a few other character saving scars, but it still seems too new to fit my cowboy persona. I’ve harbored this guilt ever since I traded in Ol’ Gray, the 1986 half ton with more heart than horsepower.
Waylon Jennings, known for his country singing but also for his sage parental advice, warned mamas not to let their offspring “pick guitars or drive them old trucks, let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such.”
So, I suppose my parents felt some career path disappointment when I was a kid and they found me fixing up my grandfather’s 1951 Chevy pickup to drive to school. They might have also breathed a sigh of profound relief knowing that the tuition bill for medical school or a juris doctorate degree was not in my future evidently.
The ’51 Chevy was a good, safe driving choice for a high school kid. It had a transmission from a ton and a half truck in it, which, paired with a six cylinder engine, gave it a top speed of about 45 miles an hour. It didn’t have seat belts or an air bag, but it was built like a tank. It easily had the steel of ten compact cars in it. It had red paint and a slight blue oil haze trailing behind it.
From ’51 to ‘67
Eventually, I moved up from the ’51 to a ’67, and went from Chevy to Ford. And since then I’ve also had a Dodge. I guess you won’t catch me with any trash-talking stickers in the back window of my pickup about the ‘other’ brands. I’ll drive anything.
The 1967 was like all the others that Dad and our neighbors had from that era. It was the standard issue aqua blue green color. I swear it was the only paint they put on pickups in the late 60s.
It was a good pickup but eventually it stayed put and grass started growing up around it. Until this year. I had tried bringing it back to life, but this summer I let a bona fide mechanic take a crack it. Now the ’67 is running like a top and back in service.
It’s the kids’ vehicle of choice when we go for a ride around the ranch. Some people would call their generation the “iGeneration,” growing up with iPads, iPhones and all the rest. The ’67 impresses them not with its technology, but its lack of it.
“Wow, you don’t even have to have the key on to close the window!” they exclaimed when I shut it off and they turned that odd crank protruding from the door. I showed them how to run the ‘air conditioning’ by undoing the lock tab and pushing out the triangle shaped windows to shoot some air through the cab.
Fresh air is important since a dried up rubber hose connecting the gas tank to the gas cap behind the seat leaves a pretty strong odor in the cab. Ventilation is bolstered by some floorboard rot that I’ll need to remedy. There’s a hole in the driver’s floorboard that you could lose a small dog through. You wouldn’t want to drop your iPhone while you’re driving and watch it hit the gravel road whizzing by underneath.
Fact is you wouldn’t want to talk on your iPhone while you’re driving, period. No power steering, a standard transmission, and brakes weak enough to encourage double clutching to help her slow down, keeps your mind on the job of driving and deters any thought of texting, talking or web surfing.
Now, all I need to do is get the kids to start driving that old truck, or, perhaps pick a guitar, and we can save the cost of tuition for law school or medical school too. ❖