Letter From The Editor, February 2015

Can you remember your first car? It’s hard to believe how things used to be! The year was 1972, and I was 14 years old. I was working evenings and Saturdays at a Sohio gas station pumping gas and did a few repairs on cars as well.

A man came in one night and got $1.50 worth of gas and then his car wouldn’t start. After monkeying around with it for a couple hours he couldn’t get it to start so we pushed it behind the gas station and there it sat. It was a 1964 Plymouth Satellite two door hard top. The car was turquoise with a white top and a two tone turquoise interior. It had very little rust on it. It had a 318 engine with a push button automatic transmission.

After about a week and a half, him and a friend of his came back to work on it, and still couldn’t get it to crank. He lived about 100 miles from the gas station so he was tired of messing with it! He said,” Hey kid do you know anyone that would want to buy this piece of shit?” I said,” How much?” He said,” $35.00 dollars and it’s yours!” I thought, wow I knew it was running when he had pulled into the station a couple of weeks ago so how hard could it be to get it running?

I told him that I would like to buy it, and he said, “Well I have the title right here!” I had been saving money for quite some time to buy a new motorcycle but if I could get this car and fix it up how cool would that be! I lived several blocks away from the station and couldn’t leave while I was working so I opened up the cash register and paid him! He signed the title, handed me the keys and left! Holy crap, I have my own car now! The gas station closed at 10 PM that Saturday night and I locked up and got on my bicycle and hauled ass for home! I got my penny bank out and got the $35.00 dollars out and scurried back to the station to put the money back in the register before the boss came in the morning.

That night I could hardly sleep thinking about my new ride. I hadn’t told my parents about it yet and didn’t know what they would say? For all I knew my dad may have beaten me like a drum, but as long as it was at the station they wouldn’t know! All day that Sunday I spent cleaning it up inside and out. It didn’t even look like the same car when I was done! My boss said it was ok to keep it there for a while so all was well!

Then on Monday, after getting out of school I hopped on my bicycle and flew down to the station to see my new ride. When I arrived at the station my boss and the mechanic looked at it and helped me push it in on the lift in the garage. The mechanic had diagnosed the problem in 5 minutes and told me I needed a new starter, which I wouldn’t be able to afford for a while. He told me to go to the junk yard about 5 miles up the road and get one, that it would be cheaper. The mechanic, Chuck said, “Just have your dad take you up there to get one.” I thought, crap no, my dad doesn’t even know I own it yet. We unbolted it from the engine and pushed the car back outside.

The next day I called the junk yard and asked if he had a starter to fit my 318 and the man said,” yes we should.” “Well how much?” I asked He said,” We usually get $12.00 dollars for those. I said,” Ok, I will bring the old one up and see if we can match it up.” So on Saturday morning of that week I strapped the starter onto the frame of my bicycle and peddled the 5 miles to the junk yard with $8.00 dollars in my pocket. At that time I was only making $1.85 per hour and that’s all I had was $8.00 dollars to my name!

As I pull into the junk yard there was this grisly bearded old guy sitting out front smoking a pipe, and he said, “What are you doing young man?” I said, “I had called you earlier in the week looking for a starter for a 64 318?” “Yes I remember that.” he said. I started to untie the rope from my bicycle to get the starter off and he said,” How far did you ride here to get that?” I said, “From Holidays Sohio Station down the road there.” He said,” Boy that’s about 5 miles from here. You’re lucky you didn’t get run over out there with all the truck traffic!”

He then looked at my starter and said “Yes I have a bunch of these, no problem” and started to walk off. I said, “Sir there is one problem I have.” He said, “What’s that?” I said, “I only have $8.00 and you told me $12.00.” He just looked at me and walked off without saying anything. At that point I didn’t know what he was doing, so I followed him. He grabbed a starter from a bench and hooked a battery to it. It turned right over and he said,” yes this is a good one lad.”

He walked over to the cash register and said, “$8.00 dollars should cover it since you rode your bicycle that far to get it.” I was amazed and really happy and felt like I had a new friend for life. His last words were, “now you be careful out there son!” I said, “Yes I will and thanks!” Over the next 20 some years I always dealt with him on parts until his untimely death in 1995.

I then peddled my rear end off to get back to the gas station to put it on and the car and it fired right up. Wow 14 years old and I have my own ride! I couldn’t get a license until I was 16 but that didn’t deter me on some late night drives!

I finally told my dad as he stopped down to get some gas a couple days later. I said, “Hey dad how do you like that 64 Plymouth over there?” He said,” why?” I said, “Do you think it looks good?” He said, “It’s ok, why are you asking?” I said, “Ah…………because it is mine.” He said,” What?” “It’s mine.” I said. Then I told him the story and how much I had in it. “Well you should have told me you were going to buy it.” He said. I said,” Yes, I know, but I thought I could make some money on it?” Several weeks later I sold the car for $80.00 dollars, for a profit of $37.00!

Those were the days and I miss them! Incidentally, some of the older guys that hung around the station showed me how to do power brakes and huge burn outs in it. Those were the days!

Bear out see ya next month!