My wife and I have been together almost 33 years. She is the love of my life, my best friend and the mother of our 12 children. But she is not my first love. There was one before her that I love still…
When I was young we had a pastor new to the area at the West Point Assembly of God and for some reason I went with him for visitations. This was not something I would have wanted to do. I think it may have been arranged by my father or maybe the young pastor, forgot his name, simply invited me. I seldom say no when asked to do something so I went.
We visited a young mother in the country, no one I knew. Then we stopped by the Paul and Marie Harms farm. They lived west of West Point and south of Lorraine. That’s where I met her.
She was standing out just past the garden near the shed. I had never seen a look like that. Her front was voluptuous. Her back was nice. Her curves were undeniable. She wore sky blue. She was solid. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was older than me, much older, but I didn’t care. I had to have her.
I went home and told my Dad. He made a call to inquire. Arrangements were made. A short time later I went out to bring her home. She was a 1958 Chevy Apache 31 short bed pickup with a wood bed, a white grill and chrome trim.
Truck; A Love Story.
The arranged price was $50. Paul said said he thought the “valves were stuck” and she didn’t run. I didn’t care. She had the look. My brother and I drove out to their farm to tow her back because she was just taking up space. (pause of corny joke) Evidently, it was in Harm’s way.
The year was 1979. Custom vans were all the rage. Joe & Connie Asbury lived one block north of us. Joe had one. It was black with a moon window in the back adorned with a painted spider web and custom wheels. It had beer barrel bucket seats on the inside to enjoy the stereo 8 track tapes.
Vans were nice but not my thing. I was a teenager who didn’t know much about cars but I knew what I liked. I was at an auction east of Augusta. Dad was the auctioneer. Mom was the clerk and I was the cashier. During a down time I walked out by the road and there sat my inspiration. It was a 1956 Ford pickup painted metallic blue with a black interior and a wooden bed. It was simply gorgeous and the coolest thing I had ever seen. A 56 Ford is the standard of classic trucks.
This was before the internet, of course, and to see a classic truck you had to see one in person. When I saw the Apache I snatched her up with the idea of rebuilding and customizing. I was going to put in a high polished oak wooden bed. I was going to have custom exhaust pipes rising up out of the bed like a miniature semi. The interior would be black with a kick ass stereo and an automatic transmission.
(This is the look that stole my heart. This is a 59.)
The only problem was I had no idea what I was doing. I rolled the truck into our alley and spent some time fiddling around. It was a 3 speed with 3 on the tree. You started it by turning the key and stepping on the start button on the floor. I didn’t have money for a new motor so I started in on the body. I had never done bodywork before. She had rust spots. Actually they were rust holes. OK, it looked like a shark had taken bites out of the truck above the headlights and on the bottom corners of the cab.
I started over one of the dual headlights. I filled the hole with fiberglass mesh then filled that with body putty. Sanded it town then sprayed primer. Not bad for my first time. I took the battery out of my folk’s car and put it in the truck. I had to know. I turned the key and stepped on the starter button. Nothing. But the horn worked. So I sat there honking my truck horn with a big grin on my face. It was all I could do. Mom and Dad came to the door. They were smiling, too.
Near the end of my senior year I towed it to high school for shop class. I thought maybe the whole class would attack it and I could get a rebuilt motor out of it or something. Turned out Monty Homan and I would just lay under the truck and pretend to work on it to kill the time.
It got towed back home and sat in the alley. When I joined the Marines it got moved across the street to our warehouse. When I came back to Illinois I had no money so it continued to sit. Sometimes I would go over and just look at her all covered in dust and think, “One day”. After Dad died Mom had to sell the place. The truck had to go. I couldn’t bring it up to Michigan so with no pictures I listed it on Ebay. I sold it for $600 to a guy who drove up from Texas.
That was about 15 years ago. Whenever I see one, which is rare, I always stop to look. Sometimes I will go to classic car shows. I will walk past the Cameros and Mustangs and 57 Chevys because I am looking for her.
Some dreams come then go. I wanted to play professional basketball when I was a kid. I still play a little but no one would ever pay to watch. I wanted to be a Marine and I was. I wanted to be in radio and I was. I wanted to be married and have a great family and I do. In the last few years I’ve started writing and we will see where that goes. There’s only one thing left. I did finally give up on the smoke stacks. Too impractical. Simple dual exhaust pipes will suffice. Other than that minor change I have stayed true to my original vision because she’s my first love and I still long for her.
This week my boss told me about a friend who has a 58 or 59 (not much difference – I’ll take either) Chevy up north and he doesn’t drive it anymore. My covetous passion kicked in. I began to lust after her again. I wonder if she remembers me. I wonder if she will have me. I wonder if I will ever have her.
Dreams are nice but reality is better. Make the decision, make the arrangements, do the work and make it happen. And so I vow that before I am 60 she will be in my possession.
And I will sit in my driveway and honk the horn.