The Cars In My Life – Part One

Continuing with my questions from Joey, he asked “What was your first car? What was your favorite car when you were young?”. I had no idea until I starting writing that those questions would bring back so many memories.

The first car I can remember was a white four-door Rambler that daddy and mama drove. It had a purple velvet cow in the back window and the cow’s head would bobble up and down when the car was moving. I’ll have to ask mama about it because I can’t imagine why they had it back there. I remember crawling up there and laying in the back window so I could watch the cow’s head move and look at the sky while we were driving. I loved that car.

Mama and Aunt Willie Mae drove that Rambler to the grocery store one afternoon to get a few things. They took Michael in with them because he was still a baby, but left my twin brother Tommy, my cousin Susan and I in the car. We were five years old and Susan was seven. They told us to just stay in the back seat and they would be right back. They should have known better. Tommy had been getting in trouble for one thing or another since the time he could walk. He had climbed out of his baby bed as a toddler, opened the front door and went down to the pond one morning before mama and daddy woke up. Scared them half to death. He didn’t outgrow it. He ran away from kindergarten one day and walked home all by himself. Said he didn’t like school any more. That was the type of boy Tommy was. I bet it wasn’t two minutes after mama and Aunt Willie Mae went into the store that Tommy crawled over the seat and got behind the steering wheel. He was showing off, trying to be funny, and knocked the gearshift out of park. That Rambler slowing moved forward, with Susan and I screaming, and hit the grocery store building. Like I said, they should have known better.

We moved home to Texas when I was ten, but would drive back to Tennessee every year to visit mama’s side of the family. I remember being in the back seat of a car with Tommy and Michael. Daddy and mama were in the front seat fighting. We were parked out behind granddaddy’s house, and I could see his back porch to the left of us, his cotton fields on the right, and the barn in front of us. I don’t know what daddy and mama were fighting about, but he said he was leaving and would just hitchhike back to Texas. I remember being so scared, and Michael and I crying while we sat there in the back seat. They worked it out though, as couples usually do, and we all drove back home together.

Daddy taught Tommy and I to drive when we were fifteen using an old Chevy truck he had. He said we had to learn to drive on a standard so we would be able to drive anything. It had the gearshift behind the steering wheel. He used to have us drive out on Morgan Mill Highway and would make us pull over and stop in the middle of going up a big hill. Once we could start the truck, get our clutch and gear action right and get back on the road without ending up all the way back down at the bottom of the hill, we were good to go. Daddy ended up giving that truck to Tommy that year when Tommy moved out of the house. It was several years later before I got my own car.

When I was seventeen, mama would let me take her car out sometimes to make the drag. She had a bright red Ford Ltd four-door and it was an automatic. I liked it. But I used to really love it when daddy would let me take his truck out riding around. It was a fairly new Chevy truck, but what I loved about it was the sound. You could hear the engine rev as you drove around and I loved that sound. I ended up wrecking that truck three different times. Daddy was not happy.

My first car was a little dark brown Toyota Corolla that daddy co-signed for me to buy the Fall before I turned eighteen. I had wanted to buy a Camero that someone I knew was selling. It was beautiful and I wanted it really bad. They were selling it for $3,000 and it had a $1,500 sound system in it! Perfect! What more could a girl want? Daddy didn’t agree. Said it was too fast of a car for me. He was right, of course, but I didn’t think so at the time. One of the banks had the Corolla for sale, and he said he would let me buy that one.

The Corolla is what I packed with everything I owned and drove when I moved to Little Rock and then Tennessee the beginning of the summer after I turned eighteen. I remember listening to the Boston eight-track at full blast that whole trip. I think it was the only eight-track I had. Hearing that Boston music now still sends me right back to that summer. I was pulled over in Arkansas for speeding. The policeman said he clocked me going 110. And that was in a Corolla. I probably wouldn’t still be alive if daddy had let me get the Camero like I wanted. I lied to the policeman. Told him my mama had died in Tennessee and my daddy was waiting on me to get there and needed me. I even cried real tears, but that was because I was so scared. He let me go with a warning. No way that would happen now. I worried for a long time after that mama would actually die because of my lie. Maybe that’s why I don’t lie now.

I ended up totaling the Corolla later that summer in Tennessee. It was still kinda driveable, so daddy made me drive it to Little Rock. He met me there and hauled it and me back home to Texas. I moved to Dallas a couple of months later in that car. It was the car that I was driving when I met your daddy. And it was the car that your daddy and I drove the day we got married. The driver side door was smashed in and couldn’t be opened, so after the wedding at Highland Park, we drove it to the reception in Irving. Your daddy had to get in through the passenger side door and crawl over the gearshift to get in the driver’s seat and then I got in with my wedding dress. I drove that car having to get in and out that way for what seemed like forever.

It’s remarkable how much cars have played a part in my life history. I never realized just how much until now. I’ll have to continue in another post on another day. Think I’m gonna have to go out for a drive. I’ll try not to wreck. Think I noticed a pattern here. Heh.