Monday, August 17, 2009

I had just gotten to work at the 7-Eleven store in the next town. I was working the evening shift, as I recall.
The year was 1980. I had completed my B.A. degree in the spring and was working at 7-Eleven during the summer to save some money for grad school, which I would be starting in the fall. My car, a junky 1973 Pontiac Catalina, had been totaled the previous January when some idiot blew through a stop sign and drove across four lanes of traffic to hit me with a Chevrolet El Camino. Although my Catalina was a tank, so was the El Camino. My Catalina didn't stand a chance. The complete driver's side of the car was dented in. Thank goodness it was a big sturdy car or I might not be here writing this.
I did without a car for five months. However, I needed a car for grad school since part of my first semester responsibilities would include traveling to many elementary, junior high, and high schools in central Illinois to give intelligence tests as part of my training in Clinical Psychology.
The Catalina had come from a Lincoln-Mercury dealership a few towns away. My dad talked with his "buddy" -- Freddie -- a typical used car dealer, to set up the deal. I bought the Catalina for $500, only to see it need a new tranny a few months after completing the sale. I did not want to go back to Freddie to see what other mechanical marvel he would try to unload on me.
My dad and I decided to look at the local AMC dealership in the next town. We saw a car that looked just about right -- an early 1970's Matador. It was white with blue interior and seemed to be in great condition. It was selling for $1000. We examined the car pretty closely and seemed to really like it. But for some reason which I do not recall, I didn't close the deal. Instead, I had my dad drive me to work.
Once at work, I started fretting about the car, thinking that I should have bought it before someone else got it since it was a good deal. I was beating myself up when lo and behold, my dad pulled into the 7-Eleven parking lot with the car. I went outside and he told me that he was worried that someone else might buy it, so he went to the bank to get money, then went to the dealership to buy it. Needless to say, I was surprised as hell but happy to have a car for my grad school years. The car gave me two years of semi-reliable transportation.
I recall this story with tears in my eyes since today marks the fifth anniversary of my dad's death. This story reminds me of all the small things that parents do to help their kids -- things which often are not appreciated until many years later or until people have kids of their own.
Shortly before my dad passed away, he gave me his 1992 Honda Accord, which he could no longer drive, so that I would have a winter car and could keep my Mustang convertible in the garage during the cold, snowy weather. I recently gave the car to my sister-in-law -- someone who could really use it. However, I did keep one item from my dad's car -- his trusty riding companion, Bongo, one of the Beanie Babies. Bongo now rides with me everywhere in my Mustang. Today, however, Bongo gets a special treat -- he is sitting in my office watching me work, just as I imagine my dad is doing somewhere, looking out for me as only a father could ...

8 Comments:

Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Wow, great story.

6:10 PM  
Blogger BWoP said...

Nice story, lightning. Thanks for sharing.

6:49 PM  
Blogger muhctim said...

Yes, I love the story, and the sentiment. Thanks for the smile I have on my face right now.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...

John, that is an extremely inspiring story. I know days like this have to still be sad, but believe me, he's still proud of you today. Thanks for sharing this.

2:52 PM  
Blogger smokkee said...

Bongo resembles the Halo rally monkey. Maybe they're cousins. good story.

11:55 PM  
Blogger BamBam said...

Thanks for sharing.

11:11 AM  
Blogger kurokitty said...

wow. what a great story. thanks for sharing it...

10:59 PM  
Blogger jusdealem said...

That was a great story, lightning.

1:12 PM  

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