My very own cars!

And again, my own cars; Because I have this mental picture that people try to emulate their car (or, act cool, just like their car!) I’ve never bought that muscle car or that sports car or that hot rod or….. well, you get the idea. In fact the first car that I “owned” was the ’50 Chevy that came to me from my maternal grandfather through my parents. I had the use of this family car after I first became a driver and turned 16. My parents bought a 1960 Plymouth and I got to began taking the Chevy to school. Needless to say (so I’m saying it) I immediately became quite “cool” (can you imagine the nerd that I was in a ’50 Chevy!). That car went to UNM in 1961 and saw a lot of beer adventures in the Bosque in the North Valley and in the Juan Tabo wilds of those years; there were no houses and roads up there in those days. In 1963 I purchased the pride of my entire life, even ‘til now! This was a 1957 VW bug; 36 hp engine, small rear window, small rear tail lights, no gas pedal – a wheel served that function, no gas gauge – just an emergency tank, and the pride that it was mine and I had the same character that it had! I loved that car and still love the memory. I had inherited $500 from my grandfather’s estate so went to the VW dealer on Wyoming in ABQ. And, using the Chevy as a trade-in (for $50, yep, $50) and floated a bank loan for the rest at $25 a month I bought my $900 VW. I loved that car and the “walter Mitty” in me felt like it was an XKE Jag! Sky blue, and we were so cool! Sadly, had to sell it when I left U.S. in the summer of ’64 to go to Panama as a Peace Corps Volunteer. R.I.P, little blue car! Wipe the tears and go on! So a few years pass and I’m in Germany as a G.I. with a few dollars and the age and grade to own a P.O.V. (privately-owned-vehicle). One of my platoon leaders was rotating back to the states and sold me his ’61 Plymouth Valiant for $200. Again, I was in heaven. This too was a great-character car. By the way, I sold it for $200 two years later when I went home. This car took me all over Western Europe. I often snuck over to Luxembourg to visit my brother and his family where they lived after he got out of the Air Force. We all traveled in the Plymouth through France and Switzerland to Spain. I slept in the back seat with a blanket while they slept in a tent. These were fun times and I’ll write about them sometime later. Don’s wife Chris was from Luxembourg and spoke French, Italian, German, Dutch, English and of course, Luxembourgish. We could travel everywhere! I also traveled all over parts of Germany in this car, often with other G.I.’s as company. We spent several trips to Bavaria and to Munich during Octoberfest! In 1969, 3 of us took the Plymouth by ferry to England landing at Dover. We drove all over England and Scotland and then spent a week or so in London. The car was a jewel. Most guys would spend their money on cameras and Hi Fi stuff but I went to places and saw things. I hated leaving the car when I ended my 3 years in the Army but, life goes ON! And ON this time was the 1964 Dodge Convertible I bought in Connecticut. I was with my oldest sister who had just been widowed in 1969.I got out of the service in New Jersey and went to Hartford to visit JoAnn and went to a car dealer. I told the car salesman that I had $500 so he found me a car that fit the bill! Almost a lemon! I did drive it across the country to the Texas coast and then to Las Vegas NM where I eventually went to school at NMHU. I had traveled across the country with all my belongings in the trunk of the car. I won’t say I loved this one but it did have character (flaws!). A push-button transmission, a top that didn’t go up or down, but, it did go, though I never knew how fast as the speedometer never worked. That used car salesman in Connecticut, boy did he see me coming! I eventually gave the car to a friend’s son and he turned around and sold it to a guy for $60. By then I was driving a $350 1965 Chevy Chevelle with a 283 cubic inch engine. And this was quite the car. I had been working for a propane company in Las Vegas, NM so we converted it to run on propane and the boss charged me just for hardware. I paid 11cents a gallon for propane to be use as “heating fuel” at that time. We took trips in that car including to Kansas several times. We went to Mexico on our honeymoon! I drove that car for years and finally gave it to my niece Serena when she graduated from Robertson HS. She drove it all through college at NMSU. Oh, by the way, I had bought a Vespa for $75 while I was at NMHU and rode it for quite a few years. It had a 125cc two-cycle engine. I even met Peg when I was on it driving around Highlands. We rode that thing all over Las Vegas over the years. Peg inherited a 1950 Willy’s from her dad and we took it to Maxwell when we were teaching there. I took my boy scout troop out to the local lakes for camping trips. I wasn’t a very good leader, I let one of the boys eat raw bacon because he wanted to! And I would take a group of kids out of the classroom and drive around town going over the history of the town and of the various houses and buildings; didn’t take long to cruise the town as the population wasn’t too much over 400! And we did go lots of places in that Willys as it was such a fun vehicle! Maggie ended up with it in Los Alamos and lost it in the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000. She said she got as much in insurance then as they had paid for it in 1950! They bought the Willys originally in 1950 when Peg was born (June 26, 1950) as that was when the Korean War started and Jack, Peg’s dad, had memories of WWII and not being able to buy cars! I bought a 1967 Ford F100. We paid $1000 for this truck to a local Maxwell farmer. It had a 3-speed on the column. It was a work-horse of a truck. We drove it for a long time in Maxwell and later when we moved to Los Alamos. It served well as a country vehicle. It could go most anywhere and could carry most anything. It had lots of imperfections but allowed itself to be abused. I carried lots of loads of firewood in that truck. I finally sold it when it was one of several vehicles I had at the time. This was the days before SUV’s so being in a “tall” vehicle next to sedans was a nice feeling. Oh, of days bygone!!!! And then, there was the 1977, orange, diesel V.W. Rabbit! We drove it from East Coast to West Coast; from the Gulf Coast to, well, everywhere. In the days of 55 M.P.H. speed limits we could get 55 mile per gallon! That little car was so basic being an early VW diesel. Couldn’t get air or electric windows and so on. But it ran and ran. It even got hit on all four corners in minor mishaps! I used it for the first years I taught at PHS. The kids would lift it over barriers and move it around. After almost 170 thousand miles I sold it to one of the students for about 2 or 3 hundred dollars. He’d pay when he had money. I won’t tell you his name or how long he drove it but I think he tried to do lots of “4-wheeling” in it. R.I.P. little Rabbit! Then a couple of non-descript vehicles, serviceable but not notable. An ’85 Camry, and it was actually a good car. An ’81 Rabbit diesel pickup came along and it was a lemon. It had a 5 speed stick transmission that would not pull that little truck! I did like the truck for the ease in access over and into the bed. But sitting Inside of the cab was the worst pain I’ve felt in a car! I eventually bought a succession of very cheap used cars. I bought them from friends out of necessity of having affordable transportation. I bought a Datsun/Nissan diesel from one of our former teachers. It didn’t do too badly for a lot of miles. Then along came the yellow Subaru wagon. It actually was a good vehicle and I drove it a long time. It was very serviceable but again, non-descript. And finally, the little Ford Escort. I paid about 1500 dollars for it. It was pure basic! No power steering or brakes, a 3-speed manual transmission, a radio and, and that was it! I got $400 trade-in (which I demanded!) when I bought my current ’04 Blazer. I did have a ’95 Saturn that did well and traded it in for my beautiful ‘2000 Honda Accord. And this was one of the best buys I’ve had. I was still in shock over the loss of my home from the Cerro Grande fire in the Jemez in ‘2000. I took by car broker, Matt M. with me to Abq and we test drove several cars and then just fell for the Accord. I really enjoyed the luxury of leather power seats and so on but again, got the itch to buy so sold it to a friend and bought the ’03 Acura that Matt M. (my car broker!) had found for me. He test drove it before I ever saw it, called me and said I had to buy this car; and he was right! It still sits in my garage leaving only when I take it out for parades and such!! Of course I put a few miles on it. I don’t use it much as I’ve got the last car Matt got for me, the ’04 Blazer that I bought used and have put over 100,000 miles on. It serves as my office and my storeroom for cross country teams and I just about can’t get along without it. Hey, I’m shopping now for whatever may come next. I like to think of what’s out there and what I want to drive: Maserati, Bugatti, Harley, Beamer, – who know’s!!! Yeah, I did buy an 20 – year old motor home that is really neat except, at 6 miles to a gallon………….!

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