By Greg Zschomler
Every male my age remembers his first automobile. It might be the ugliest most unreliable vehicle known to man, but it will be fondly recollected nonetheless. Mine, however, was a gem. That is until…well, here’s the story.
My baby was a Plymouth Sport Fury II with a T-handle automatic transmission that I treated like a four-speed on the floor. The paint job was metal flake, root beer brown and the car had a brown custom vinyl top with matching interior upholstery. Baby moons graced the wheels. It was a beaut!
I bought it from a friend when I was eighteen-years-old with the help of my father. Man, I loved that car! No one had another like it and I drove it proudly.
It took its first real beating when my sister Jan, Bill (now Will), Tom and I were on our way to pick up Bill D. one Halloween. I knew not how to get to Bill Ds, so Jan (who did) was instructing me as to the route. Traveling down St. Johns Blvd., at speeds exceeding the limit, Jan suddenly shouted out, “Turn here!” I tried. Having taken the turn too late and at too great a speed I careened over a sidewalk and into a gully. Fortunately, no one but the car was injured. The tires blew out, the baby moons shot off in all kinds of spinny directions and we came to a lurching stop just short of a grove of trees. There was much screaming.
Now I mentioned that this was Halloween. After we were to pick up Bill D. we were to drive to David Douglas Park to set up a Haunted Forest. In our car we had an elaborate make-up kit (for making up monsters) that involved copious quantities of stage blood. Personally, I am want to exaggerate the story and say that this blood flew all over the car, but it, in fact, it did not. I just wanted you to imagine what it would have looked like if it did.
After our nerves settled and the baby moons stopped spinning and were collected, we managed to get to a phone booth (this was, if you can imagine, before cell phones) and soon we had a tow truck in route. The tow yard was near a gas station that had a small convenience store. There we waited for my dad to come get us. While we did Bill (Will) bought me a Rocky Road candy bar (hardee har-har) and recited an impromptu limerick (which I still remember) that went like this:
“There was a young man named Greg, who drives like he’s stoned on a keg, he drives really fast as your life flashes past, but he only breaks your left or right leg.”
Well, I put the remainder of my life’s savings into repairing the car (new tires and an alignment) and, a short while later, having four-speeded the transmission to death, the drive system gave out while traversing ‘the gut’ (Highway 99 in Hazel Dell) and I and whoever I was with at the time (I think it was my friend Steve) pushed it into the parking lot of Hazel Dell Lanes. I was nearly broke so I called my dad to pick us up. (Did I mention that my dad was a patient man with a great lecturing capability?) We intended to pick the car up in the morning and tow it home.
The next day, when we returned for my baby, she was gone. The stinkin’ manager/owner of Hazel Dell Lanes had had it towed! I didn’t have the money to get it out of impound and by the time I did the towing company had added on storage charges! Meanwhile, I’d looked into the cost of a transmission repair and I knew I wouldn’t have that sort of cash until I was ninety years old. I had to let the car—my baby—go and someone got a beautiful set of wheels at the auto auction.
BTW Will: I have never liked Rocky Road candy bars; they look like something you should leave in a toilet.