I’ve often thought that we should have had a brand new car, right off the assembly line by this time.
But it’s been 36 years. I don’t think it’s happening, and as of right now, I couldn’t care less. It’s not a priority. At least our cars are presentable now.
When my husband and I married 36 years ago, we had only one vehicle, a 1968 Pontiac LeMans with a bad paint job. My husband was working in a fiberglass factory back then, and learned to do body work. It has served him well throughout the years.
The year after our marriage, the LeMans had been patched, sanded and primed. My husband was planning to have it painted as soon as he saved enough money, however, on a trip to the children’s shoe store to buy baby shoes for our 14 month-old daughter, a teenaged boy pulled out of a parking lot without looking, and we hit him broadside. The kid walked away from the accident, and luckily so did we. The LeMans was built in the old style–not cheap and flimsy, but bad and mean and heavy. It didn’t survive the wreck, but it saved us.
Sigh. We received 700 bucks for the car from the other driver’s insurance. (We had only liability–we couldn’t afford full coverage, even if we wanted it on a 13 year old car.)
Thus began our journey.
With the insurance money, my husband bought an old Volks Wagon Beetle, which broke down continually. I remember being stranded two miles from home when the damn thing stalled on us and wouldn’t start. We still live in the same house, 4-5 miles from a traffic light in any direction, but back then there were less homes, less people, and no cell phones. The two of us took turns carrying the baby, who wasn’t exactly thrilled to be out at dusk with bugs flying around. She didn’t like bugs. She screamed at the sight of any bug, gnat, fly or spider. So, add crying and trudging up a steep hill to this fiasco. Finally we reached a house. The owners let us in to use the phone, and my father came to our rescue. Another time, after the VW was running again, my husband forgot to park it facing downhill. He got up to go to work after it had rained all night, drove up the driveway and came back 5 minutes later, soaking wet. The VW’s sunroof was faulty, and water seeped in when it was parked uphill. When my husband left our driveway and went down the hill, water sprayed over him from the roof.
And that’s only one car. There are plenty of others. My absolute favorite way to be embarrassed was to be forced to ride in Tom’s International Scout, the one he painted himself. Ugh. It was the color of a Hershey bar, not my style at all. Or maybe the ugly brown truck was a Blazer. Or a Bronco. Who knows? All of the former occupied our driveway at some point during the past 36 years. I can’t even remember how long it was until we got a second car. I think my daughter was about 3 or 4. Meanwhile, my husband drove what I called junkers. It was pretty much all we could afford at the time. That’s how it was, until Tom got through school and began working as an electrician.
We had at least 2 Internationals over the years. (Nothing against them- they’re fine, only they were usually covered with fiberglass or primer.) One of his trucks was sort of worn on the floor. I mean, you could see bits of the road flying beneath your feet while riding shotgun. Trucks and cars were driven and maintained by Tom until it was too costly to keep them. Then he would sell them as is, and find another old truck to get him back and forth to work. At the same time all of this was occurring, my husband also had a motorcycle of some kind. I believe it was a Yamaha. One night he wrecked it on a back road, and came home covered in scrapes and bruises. Other motorcycles came and went for awhile.
On and on it went. Old cars were pretty much all we could afford at the time. After I finally got a vehicle, he always gave me the best car and kept a truck for himself. He needed a truck for work, and to transport deer in the wintertime.
After that, the vehicle situation got better. The cars were never new, but at least they were more reliable. After 36 years, there are way too many cars, trucks and junk vehicles to remember or list here. However, we survived. Our kids survived, too. They had a loving home and an intact family. So what if their parents drove 10 year old cars?
Later, when our kids were a little older, my husband began buying dream cars. I don’t know the classifications. I don’t think they can be categorized as muscle cars, because of year, or the engine or whatever. We had a ’68 Mustang. Then, for some reason, Tom sold it, but afterward he bought another Mustang, a ’66. He rebuilt the engines and installed dual exhausts and headers on both Mustangs. The ’66 Mustang was looking good when Tom offered to allow our 17 year old son to drive it home after boy scouts. Unfortunately, there was an accident. It wasn’t my son’s fault, and thank God both he and my husband walked away from the wreck, but the Mustang… it was totaled.
About 12 years ago Tom bought a 1969 Pontiac Firebird. He replaced the interior and had it painted, in addition to putting in a new carburetor. (The Firebird already had a high performance exhaust.) It was red, and beautiful… but he wasn’t really happy with it. He went back and forth for awhile about whether or not to keep it. Then, on September 11, 2006 my husband had his accident. He fell 15 feet at work and crushed his ankle. Twenty years of trudging through woods, hiking up steep hillsides & sitting in cold and icy tree stands waiting for deer and he hadn’t been hurt; it took a work related accident to do it. (The old fashioned reader board was condemned as unsafe the day after the fall. Too bad it took someone almost losing a leg for it to happen, but that’s water under the bridge.) My husband had a couple of surgeries and was forced to wear a cage on his leg for 8 months. Not fun. The leg is not really great to look at now, with scars and pits where the pins had poked through, however, he can walk. That’s all we care about.
Sometime during his recovery, during which he drove his truck to work using his left leg while propping the caged and crippled right leg on the passenger seat (I think he ripped out the console of whatever truck it was) Tom decided he didn’t want the Firebird. I don’t remember if he was internet savvy or not back then, but somehow, he found a car he wanted, the 1974 Corvette Stingray pictured above. I think he found the car through a magazine, or an ad in the newspaper.
At any rate, somehow the Firebird was gone and the Corvette took its place in our garage. Tom’s leg was still in the cage when he bought Corvette, but as soon as the cage came off, work began on the car. It was a slow process. There were other hobbies and pastimes, like hunting and guitar playing and music. The hunting tapered off a bit over the past couple of years due to arthritis in the bad leg and chronic migraines. There was also a death in the family, a wedding to pay for, and other reasons money and time weren’t available for the Corvette. Still he drove it at times.
Here’s the best Corvette story. My daughter’s first child was born less than a year after her wedding. I, of course, loved to babysit my granddaughter. At that time my daughter lived in Exton, about 40 minutes from our place. I would go early in the morning, and my husband would drive up later to play with the baby until her dad came home from work.
One day, a day when I was unwell because of anxiety issues, I was really tired by the time Tom showed up. Anyone could have seen it by looking at me. I was simply sick. I felt sick at my stomach and too tired to move, and Tom said we should go out and get a bite to eat, so I would feel better. I was driving a Subaru Outback Sport at the time. (The same car Tom runs back and forth to work now). He had driven to Exton in the Corvette.
So we left my daughter’s and I followed the red Corvette across Rt. 100 to a shopping center with lots of eateries. I was so tired and feeling so unwell that I didn’t care where we ate. I just followed. It was summertime, and the Corvette’s T-top was open.
Like I said, I was sick. After caring for a six month old all day I had no energy to spare. I didn’t have any make-up on that day, even though it was in the car; I simply didn’t care enough to apply it. I was wearing a jean skirt and a tee shirt with flip-flops. I think my hair was presentable, but otherwise, I wasn’t my best.
My husband, on the other hand… well… he’s aged well. He’s still a fine looking man (IMO) and he was driving a fine looking car, even back before he installed the headers and side pipes and the new wheels. I was hoping some food would help me as I followed him into the parking lot. That’s when I noticed the girl, who also must have thought she was seeing something fine. It may have the man, or the car, or a combination, but whatever it was, she wasn’t hiding her admiration.
She was a pretty girl, no older than 30. She may have been younger. God help me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Yes, I know my husband is still a good looking man, especially while wearing jeans, boots, a tee-shirt and sunglasses and driving a sports car, but for crying out loud.
Girls… seriously. It’s not a good idea to get out of your car in a parking lot and glimpse a strange man coming toward you, and then stand there with a look of God knows what on your face, hoping he will pick you up. The man may be a bad man. He could be an ax murderer for all you know. It’s best to be introduced before making advances.
But this girl must have been either stupid or unafraid, because she wanted a ride. She was right next to the Corvette, and could have seen the wedding ring on my husband’s finger if she had looked. (Which she probably did).
But again, she wanted a ride. I could tell by looking at her. And I heard her through my open window as I pulled into the spot next to my husband. I’m sure she looked at me and shrugged, thinking I couldn’t possibly be attached to him, me with my pale sickly face, my ears ringing from listening to shrieks from a six-month-old with acid reflux, exhausted from walking the floor with her and pushing her around the neighborhood in her stroller to help her sleep, and quite possibly smelling of baby spit-up.
So, this young girl didn’t pay me any mind as my husband got out of the Corvette. “Nice Stingray,” she cooed. Unfortunately for her, she was barking up the wrong tree. My husband doesn’t cheat. He never has, even when women made advances when I wasn’t around.
And so, he didn’t pay her any mind. I believe he said a simple thank you before coming to my door as I dragged myself out from behind the wheel. Then he smiled, took me by the hand and spoke to me the way he always does when I’m down, or ill or not myself, and we went into a pizza place. Neither of us looked back.
Another few years have passed, and finally we have a new car. Even if it’s technically an old car. A new hood, headers and side pipes, wheels and paint job. The interior still needs work, but that will come in time. For now, the car is new to us, and exactly the car we always wanted.