Monday, June 18, 2007


Thank God dad traded the old ’55 Star Chief in before I really got into dating heavily my last year in high school. I needed a little more class in the sixties, or so I thought if I was to attract the prettiest girls. The truth, and I did not realize it until I was in my early twenties, is that personality is what really gets girls attentions. In retrospect, they would probably have dated me in the ’55 had I had the nerve to ask. This fact has been proved to me more than once since dating high school acquaintances since then. “Why did you never ask me out on a date?” they would ask.

Anyway, along came the ’64 Pontiac just at what I perceived to be the right time. It was long and wide and its 389 cu-in engine was powerful. Outside he was snow white and inside a beige vinyl trimmed in darker brown, with a backseat more than adequate for a teenage boy to work on his “night moves.”

I remember a friend once asking my dad, while the three of us had our head stuck under the hood admiring the 4-barrel carburetor, “When you going to let Mushy take this out on a date?”

He looked up with a wide grin, took a drag off his Camel, and embarrassed me by saying, “And let him get pecker tracks all over the backseat?”

“Daaad!” was all I could muster.

There were lots of dates, double dates mostly, but the best times were the nights with the guys. It was a time to proudly display your driving skills and show off what “Tonto” could do!

It was standard procedure to drive the car straight to the nearest filling station, pop off the hubcaps so you would look cool, turn the top of the breather upside so he could breathe and call out to you when you pressed hard on the accelerator, undo the speedometer cable, and let about five pounds of air out of the rear tires for traction!

The nights all began by circling The Beacon to see and to be seen. The fantasy was to pick up girls, but the truth is, we were just as happy to be seen by the guys.
I remember a friend’s dad also bought a ’64 Ford Galaxie that same year, he, and I always looked for each other, and before the night was over we usually ended it with a drag race on a straight stretch of HWY 61, the part that flattens out after Bitter Creek coming into Harriman.

We each usually had our entourage of three fellows eager to egg on any nonsense, especially since it did not involve their family car.
Barry and James always got out and hopped in the backseat for added traction, and his bunch did the same. At the shout of GO from Barry out the rear passenger side window, we were off!

Both cars tended to squat and burn the tires like crazy leaving a wiggly black line for about four feet before they each caught and lunged forward. Both 4-barrels were deeply inhaling air at such a rate that you imagined you could see the hoods being sucked inward! What a sound – nothing like that sound!

I think we won an even number of heats over those few months during our senior year, but I only remember the smiles and yelling coming from Barry and James. It was a wonderful feeling, a happy time, but it soon was dampened by worry about whether or not my dad would find out. He would have absolutely beat me within an inch of my life had he known.

He had to suspect, but he never once asked any questions, even after that Sunday morning when he noticed the speedometer was not working on the way home from church. He pecked on the plastic and calmly said, “Huh, strange, the speedometer isn’t working.”

My heart leaped into my throat and I did not know what to say or do. Finally I got out, “Really? I’ll check it when we get home.”

I coupled the cable back onto its proper place and nothing was ever said about it again. Surely, he must have known.

It is a shame you have to get to this age before realizing some of the simple little unspoken ways your dad said he loved you.


Suldog said...

Great story, Mushy!

I can't help but think about a slightly younger age, when you think that the car is a part of the family. When your Dad trades it or junks it, it's almost like someone dying, isn't it?

Mushy said... family mourned the loss of the '55 Pontiac for a long time. It had been with us for a decade of our lives and served us well.

*Goddess* said...

Hmm, I remember well some of the simple little unspoken ways my dad said he was gonna kick my ass...LOL!

Fathairybastard said...

We had about a 1974 Chrysler Cordoba when I was getting into HS, and that thing was a lot of fun. 350 engine, and a dash that was set up cool as hell. Soon though dad traded it for an AMC Hornet hatchback, which is what I drove through the rest of school. Little beater motor, but the most comfortable front seats I've ever seen in a car. Not much of a back seat for makin' "pecker tracks" in though (yer dad was cool as hell). I don't think we had a street to cruse in Ft. Worth. Town was too big maybe, but a lot of folks would go to the lake on the weekend for beer busts, and cruse there. My circle of friends, hopeless nerds that we were, never ventured out there. Afraid we'd get dragged out of the car and beat up by the folks that we avoided in school, who we knew were prone to be there and drunk. Ah, school days. If you want to see my time, or what it was like just before my time, watch the movie Dazed and Confused. And Goddess, I know what you mean too, and what mushy means. Always amazed me when dad would do something cool to help me out in front of my friends, but it was much more likely to be a glare, the meaning of which was obvious.

Mushy said...

Note that I changed it to cu-in instead of HP! A reader pointed that out to me and I know the difference just didn't proof read it close enought.

The Glaxie was a 390 cu-incher!

Thanks GaMtnRider (a.k.a. Frank)

david mcmahon said...

Mushy, Mushy, Mushy,

A classy bloke like you could not possibly have needed more ``acquired'' class in the form of chrome and Duco!



Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Ooooh, I seriously missed out on my youth! I'm jealous.. sob. Still, I felt I was right back there with you reading this post, you have a way of taking us all back there, as you write.. lovely piece (again).

Becky said...

Hahaha! I'm laughing out loud at "pecker tracks." I haven't heard that before. YOu're so right with the car -- it really doesn't matter. It's more important for it to be clean to me, regardless of the type.

Fathairybastard said...

I see another book in all our futures, called somethin' like Mushy's Moochings: Stories from my growin' up.

BRUNO said...

I'm surprised no one has asked you yet WHY you un-hooked the speedo cable?

"Teenage Racers Secret"! I won't ruin it for you, it's YOUR story! (That's ONE thing this "old-fart" remembers!)

Mushy said...

Bruno - no secret...just kept dad from fussing at me for putting so many miles on the car. He thought it so stupid to drive around and around at night and put over a 100 miles on a car without leaving town!

Needless to say, we went further than that most nights, but I never let it go over a 50!

No, it had nothing to do with speed - just distance!

BRUNO said...

I figgered you done it to keep the cable from "bird-nesting", and breakin' the end off---a dead giveaway that you were overrunning the speedo-gear during those 360-degree "circle-burners"!!!(It worked for ME!)

phlegmfatale said...

“And let him get pecker tracks all over the backseat?”

I love the shit out of your dad - what a cool guy. Yeah, he totally knew. You can bet he had a bit of vicarious pleasure just imagining your bad-assery. Good for him for relaxing enough to let it happen. He also taught you to cover your tracks without ever directly addressing the issue. Smart man.

Cool as hell, too.

Miss Trashahassee said...

Very very funny!

You know he knew, Mushy! I'm laughing my mustache off.

What a great story!

Miss T

cars said...

Great story. Well, that was last year right? well, nowadays, great cars will still mean good looking beauties and lame cars would mean none. I remember how I could get a pretty neat number of beautiful ladies when driving my first Porsche.