Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ride Through a Lifetime

An antique car stirs hearts like nothing else. While Dwight drove us around in his grandfather's Chevrolet 3100 "Thriftmaster" half-ton pickup truck, bought new in December 1948 for about $1000, we stopped at a light and an older man in a car beside us stared in wonder and then, teary-eyed, rolled down his window and said he remembered Ford pickups just like it. This one hauled grain, about 45 bushels per load, and silage, and everything else on Dwight's family's Kansas farm. It's always been garaged. The original's cracked engine block was replaced in the 1960s with the engine from a '53 or '54 Chevrolet. The truck was spiffed up in the 1970s, with yellow-orange shag carpeting beneath the pedals placed by Dwight's brother. Not long ago a man saw it in Dwight's driveway, stopped, and offered to trade his Cadillac Escalade for it. Dwight refused. He shared the truck's photo on Facebook and I was so delighted I asked for a ride, and hopped in to find no seatbelts, the driver using hand signals to turn left, a Kansas plate that says "Antique," a four-on-the-floor that is nothing but a stick in the floor, and a roaring engine. This bulbous old dark-green machine had personality, charisma. People stared and pointed. See how you like it (12 seconds):
Dwight said his very frugal Mennonite grandfather would never have ordered the custom cab with opera windows; it was likely the last pickup truck on the lot for that model year and Grandpa wangled a deal. Years later, the family let Dwight use it to go to college; a bookish boy lacking the the ability to fix things, essential for farming, he left the farm for the city, made it big, and his family was skeptical when years later he said he wanted the truck.

I just had to show you and let you hear its horn. The only thing hard to believe about it was that carpet.

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