Friday, December 26, 2008

The Old F O R D

The one I fell in love with—a 1976 Ford F150 Super Cab.

This is the one. The one I learned to drive. The one whose tailgate I caved in. The one whose starter failed countless times in parking lots, but never on the back roads. It hauled firewood, mulch, canoes, and countless apartments full of junk. This is the truck that my father owned, but I loved.

It had a four-speed transmission, power steering, power breaks, and an extended cab—which the guy on TV made it longer by puling effortlessly on the tailgate. How clever. Did it collapse the same way? I was ten, and I wanted it.

Dad had bought it for his tree business so there were no extras. Pick-up trucks in the days before the SUV were utilitarian. Everything was optional. Dad opted out.

There was no AC. If it was hot, you put the windows down or you rode in the back with the dogs. Cold? Wait until the engine warmed and turn on the heat. Seat warmers? We would use old seat cushions from hunting season. The Lava Buns brand worked the best. And there was no radio.

Between here and there we talked when we drove. If my grandfather or my uncle were with us, they would tell stories about York County and childhood. If I was with the guys from the tree crew, I was privy to the kinds of filth—that when repeated later in the school year—would earn me the awe and respect of the 8th grade school yard, and the wrath of Sister Anna. If it were only me and Dad, I would be subjected to his stylings of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. His truck. His rules. My penance.

Dad had others over the years—newer, smaller, sportier models that had better curb appeal, but the green Ford was my favorite.

When I moved to Seattle he offered it to me. “Take it across country,” he said.

I didn’t. After working all of those years, I denied the Ford one last road trip. I was too proud. I wanted to start fresh and leave home behind. And now that I see it sitting next to what once was the Big Trout Inn on 144, I feel that I let it down.

There would have been back roads, dirty jokes, and renditions of “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Midnight Rider." Gas was cheap. We would have made it.


Steve Ballmer said...

Good blogging and merry after Christmas!

irondad said...

That was back when Ford trucks still looked good. I learned to drive in a much older Ford truck. Now I'm at the other end of things. My Dad passed away two and half years ago. I have the last truck he ever owned. I certainly understand the sentiment.

Thanks for sharing.

Carnealian said...

I saw the article in The Penn Stater about your blog and had to check it out. I LOVE that truck and have been saying for years that I want one too purely for utilitarian purposes. I had the privledge of driving an 80's version; cracked dashboard, no A/C, loud muffler, faded red paint. I was in love!

My family and I did lots of Sunday road trips for ice cream, or finding horses for me to pet. Your blog brings back lots of memories for me and reminds me that simple things can still be enjoyed, at least a little while longer.

P.S. I have linked you to my blog so I can find you quicker and check back often!

dave said...

Well it not generational - my 15 yr old son is lusting after my '99 F250 (210k and still going strong). There is a cute Civic in the driveway along with my wife's faster and sexier Matrix - but it is the truck he wants :)

Jeni said...

A good friend who is a Penn Stater but lives up in Michigan alerted me to your blog tonight. Interesting reading, even for an old broad with nothing along the lines of knowledge about biking, etc. I am however a fellow central Pennsylvanian -living over in Clearfield County, right next door ya know. The story about your truck though, I will have to show to my son when he gets home this weekend from his job (tractor-trailer driver, contracted with FedEx) as he will surely appreciate your comments on this old truck, even if it is a Ford. (He happens to be pretty much a "Chevy Guy" ya know.
Read through many of your previous posts but I didn't see anything about day trips to certain interesting back roads in my vicinity. Ever check out the back dirt roads, in particular that lead to the ghost town of Peale? Or the Rolling Stone Road just outside of Kylertown and the ride over the mountain top there down into Keewaydin and Karthus. Beautiful territory no matter what your vehicle may be!
Come visit my neck of the woods some time.

Jonathan said...

Jeni, thanks for stopping by. Other than running the Red Mo and swimming at Miller's Landing, I haven't spent much time in Clearfield county—yet.

Once the weather warms, I'll be back on the road. Peale sounds very interesting. Time to break out the topo.