Friday, December 01, 2006

Old Blue [CCR]

Winter continues to overtake fall here in Ohio. It was wishful thinking to ask for a few more warm days. So now I am taking a look at our vehicles to see what is left to prepare for the “frozen tundra” to come. Have you looked under the hood lately? I actually wonder if there is some sort of plan to build in complexity or if what I see is a haphazard approach to improvement. I never imagined having to place a car on a lift just to change the spark plugs.

Life was a little more simple back home. I still catch myself telling people a tune up consists of “points and plugs.” Younger folks just sort of give me a blank stare. It was just a little easier to check how things were working on our old Chevy truck. At least Dad made it look that way. I seriously doubt you could still find a six volt battery for the truck, but it was sufficient for our truck. Most people today would turn the ignition key waiting for the starter to turn the engine, not realizing they need to press the foot switch. Sometimes you had to let off the gas to let the wipers catch up since they ran off the vehicle vacuum system. But these “outdated” features still left us with a truck that was highly reliable and fulfilled our needs for many years, including my lessons in driving.

Even before I got to sit behind the wheel with the engine running, that truck provided hours of driving entertainment while sitting idle in our back yard. I could barely reach the pedals, which may have attributed to my safe play, but I had watched Dad and followed every queue on gear shifting. Then Dad began to let me shift the gears while he drove. Thus my lessons in driving began.

We kept both ponies and some cows which meant we had to provide food during the winter. Some of the local farmers sold Dad hay bales which we picked up while they were baling and others let us pick up the scrap corn behind the corn pickers. The farmers were always kind to us. Obviously Dad had to load the bales, so I finally got my turn behind the wheel of the truck. Dad would provide the instructions as I slowly weaved through the fields while he loaded the truck.

The old truck also carried our wood for heating our home during cold weather. I can remember traveling out to Mr. Buddy Malone’s field to gather wood. The old truck always carried its load, even though sometimes the final hill required two tries with a “running go” to get to the top. I don’t remember not making it up the hill.

Transportation for hunting trips was another duty for the old truck. Dad knew just about every dirt road in the county, something he learned from Granddaddy and I wish I had learned. They knew the name of every ridge and old home place. I can remember the day Dad let me behind the wheel. We were passing the old road near Robert Stanfield’s house. He was my great uncle. I was so proud to be driving the truck that I was looking out the side window grinning and almost ran over a whole line of pine trees. Dad’s careful watch saved me the potential endless embarrassment.

A couple of weeks ago Mom mentioned the old blue truck and how buying that used truck was a big event. I don’t remember any doubts about the vehicle. In a small boy’s mind nothing was grander. I can easily say it was the most important vehicle in my life. Dad ended up selling the truck to buy a camper and then trading the camper for a Jeep which played another important role in my life. Now I must go and find somebody who can diagnose my computerized ignition system. I guess I shouldn’t complain since computers and robotics have put food on my table for over twenty years. But I miss that old blue truck. It represented a simple life with few worries and many adventures of a growing Alabama boy.