1978 was a big year for me. I was looking at a bunch of college that I didn’t like. I am a lazy guy and when I don’t like something I don’t generally put a lot of effort into it. So, that was a year when I was such a layabout that I would lose my scholarship because I didn’t keep my grades up. But that would be the next summer. My car was transitioned too…. like the universe was trying to tell me something. So much for the cool sporty little mustang. Somehow I saved enough money to buy what I thought was a really cool, (cooler than the mustang…DUMBASS!) foreign sports car. I got a FIAT Spyder convertible. Looked like this one with the same blue color and black ragtop. This is what the dash looked like: and it was a stick with a screwy transmission. It really did look cool. And, me and my car buddy, Stats (Keven Staton) decided to road trip in it. His cousin lived in Tampa Florida and somehow we got the idea that it would be a good idea to drive to Florida and hang out. We left Sellersburg and were planning on driving straight through.
I had noticed, before the trip, how the ole Spyder had a way of going to pieces part by part. First it was the dad blasted windshield wipers which, one day, just decided not to work. Later in life, I visited Italy myself and saw the work ethic of the Italian people at the time. I was surprised to discover that, for the regular italian it was considered ‘normal’ to take a very long lunch where you eat a lot of pasta and drink a bottle of wine. Then, about 2 in the afternoon, it was a sacrilege to work. You knock of and take a nap for about an hour or so. I learned, later, about what “F I A T” was supposed to stand for….Fix It Again Tony !
So here we were flying down I 75 and at about 11:30 pm the ole Spyder just dies. Right outside Forsyth Georgia. This was just about the halfway point in our trip. We hiked down the interstate, found a garage that was open and got the Georgia garage guy (who, btw, is just exactly as you are imagining a garage guy from rural Georgia would look like in the middle of the night) to tow the Spyder up to the garage. Seeing how ForsythGeorgia is and was not at the time the garden spot or a tourism destination…there were no motels in Forsyth so we spent the night sleeping in the Garage. Waited all day for a part they had to send to ” ‘lanna’ (Atlanta) for. and spent a day exploring the wonders of downtown Forsyth Georgia.
Once we got to Tampa, a day or two late and practically broke, we had our fun. When you’re a kid you don’t need much money to have fun. $20 and a full tank of gas will pretty much do ya. The only thing notable in the rest of this trip was that we were abducted by aliens, briefly, as we were driving back from Orlando to Tampa in the middle of the night. But, I will save that story for another time.
When I got home it was time to get rid of ye olde Spyder. I can’t abide or forgive a car that puts me ‘afoot’ in the middle of nowhere. So when I went back to my final year of college in Indianapolis I changed rides.
In the mix of things I inherited my family’s red Ford pickup truck. That was my ride. Looked like this one
except mine had a row of running lights on the cabin top. Me and my dad put a winch on the next summer, after I flunked out on my scholarship. It turned out handy because I worked construction again that summer and the winch was actually useful in a couple of occasions pulling out of spots.
Probably the best service the reliable old red pick up did me though was getting me out of town. Somehow, I had seen a gal who had been off and on indifferent. But, suddenly she asked me to come visit her. I had a good friend who had failed his way out of college who lived in the same town, Chuck Green, and I wanted to see him too…so I headed up to Wabash Indiana.
I was housed at the home of an old guy, who turned out to be my date’s mother’s fiance. Seems Mom was getting married. Seems my date had gotten the idea that it would be OH SO COOL if she and her Mom had a DOUBLE wedding! That dream featured me in a starring role….all of which was revealed to me Saturday night at a critical moment of some unfolding events. I did not know much…but I KNEW that this was one particular dream of the future I did not wish to participate in. (NO GAWD NO!!!)
So, in this case I decided that since I didn’t know what to say to the girl, I didn’t know what to say to her mom, or her sister (who had made a pass at me) and I didn’t know what to say to Mom’s fiance (my prospective fellow groom) …there was one simple course of action… I got up about 5 am Sunday morning, tossed my junk in the truck and left town.
Thanks Red FORD pick up truck!!!