Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Two '55 Fords And A Trunk Full of Memories, Part One.

I first saw it in Preacher Mathis' barn just outside of Milner.  It was half-covered with a tarp but I could see the chrome shining out from underneath.  It was a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria, turquoise and white with a wide chrome strip over the roof.  I never knew what Daddy paid for it.  He wouldn't tell me.  When I asked him he just said "a paper sack full of money".

And it was mine "ours".  Daddy's and mine.

We jumped it off and Daddy drove it back to the station, where it would be parked in the wash bay until it was ready to drive.  Over the next few months Daddy would work on the engine, a 292 cubic-inch four-barrel Thunderbird prototype, and I would sand down the body to prepare it to be painted.  It was a labor of love on both our parts.  It had the original spare, and the turquoise-and-white seats were covered in clear plastic to protect the vinyl.

I took off all the chrome (there was a lot) and wet-sanded it down to the base coat.  Every now and then we'd crank it up just to hear it run.  I've never heard anything like it.  Burble-burble-burrrrrbbbbbllle-ROWWWRRRR!  It was one.  Bad.  Automobile.  I couldn't wait to drive it.

I took it out to Moore's body shop, where Jimmy Moore painstakingly matched the paint and applied all the coats necessary to return it to its new-car glory.  Daddy and I re-installed the chrome and it was ready to go.

I ran that thing everywhere like it was brand-new.  And mine.  It would.....fly.

I drove it to Ed's Tavern, south of Thomaston, one Saturday night when our band was playing there.  Ever see the bar in The Blues Brothers ("We play country AND western")?  They used Ed's Tavern as a basis for that one, right down to the barbed-wire in front of the stage.  When the Upson County Sheriff's deputies showed up at Ed's we ran out the back dragging our equipment behind us.  Never did get paid.  I sure could use that money right now.

I drove it "around".  My children never knew the fun of "just riding around".  If there was nothing going on after dark, you'd go to a friend's house and ask them if they wanted to "ride around".  We never went anywhere and yet went everywhere at the same time.  A lot of what I learned about life I learned "riding around". 

I drove it to Forsyth.  Jackson.  High Falls.  Orchard Hill.  Back when those places meant something.

I drove it in a movie made in Barnesville, Return to Macon County.  Starring Nick Nolte, Don Johnson, and you-know-who.  I got in a screen fight in Mr. T. R. Bush's restaurant (just "across the tracks") with Don Johnson.  Yes, that Don Johnson.  Before Miami Vice.  He couldn't hold his liquor.  And he couldn't fight.

The producer of that non-Academy Award nominated film tried to buy the Crown.  He offered Daddy $25,000.  Daddy said no.

I wasn't driving the night the Crown outran a Greyhound bus on US 341 between Barnesville and Griffin.  Daddy was, and told me all about it.

It was parked outside the station the last time I saw it.  I was in college and happened to be in Macon the weekend it was sold.  I never knew how much it sold for.  When I asked Daddy how much he sold it for, he simply told me "a paper sack full of money." 

I can still see it, hear the exhaust, smell the interior.  In my mind.  Along with the memories.

It was just yesterday.

1 comment:

bella said...

I wish you still had that car so I could drive away in it at my wedding! What a beaut.