Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Coming Clean. or, Grand Theft Auto

1955 Fairlane


My mother's 1955 Ford Fairlane 
This is the first car I ever drove. I was approximately 9 years old, I found myself sitting behind the wheel, in the driveway, pretending I was on the freeway. Turning the steering wheel back and forth testing the limits of the steering mechanism. Marveling at the fact that after releasing it, the wheel always spun back to center. 
Then on a whim I grabbed gearshift lever, pulled it toward me and down and the car immediately began to roll forward down the driveway. I probably went a grand total of 10 feet, at maybe 1 to 2 mi./h before I managed to put it back in park. This was my first encounter with the exhilaration of acceleration. That adrenaline rush that filled me full of excitement at 2 mi./h, now requires speeds in excess of 100 mph to equal.

I have a lot of childhood memories about that car. But I'm going to limit this to my first joyride. In keeping with true confessions and coming clean, please allow me to introduce this:

1963 T Bird

This was my second car theft."JOY RIDE"  

1969, me a 17 year old, testosterone overdosed, adrenaline junkie. I was never allowed to drive my mother's car. For some unknown reason back in 1969, in rural North Carolina, 17-year-old males had a bad rap with Insurance companies. The man was keeping me down Insurance Company, charged exorbitant prices, which  kept my mother from putting my name on the policy. 
I would beg and plead, bargain and barter, wheel and deal, cajole and plead with her to let me drive it "Just Once."
And she would always politely explain how it was so important for her to be able to get to work, she couldn't risk losing the car in the event there was an uncovered accident. Or if the Insurance Company found out somehow and canceled her policy. She would be unable to go to work. We would all starve, and become homeless  And an unending litany of traumatic events would unfold and lead up to ARMAGEDDON.
40 years later I completely understand that logic. But, back then it was just another adult excuse that made very little logical sense to me.

Then one night, the keys to the car were laying on the kitchen counter. My mother was asleep on the couch, the Tonight Show playing on TV. I don't remember what triggered it. It wasn't like in the movies, where an angel sits on one shoulder and the devil sits on the other, helping you weighed the odds against the benefits. I simply reached down, picked up the keys and headed out the door. The Thunderbird in 1963 at 390 cubic inch engine, and the muffler systems emitted a deep, throaty sound. So to avoid the possibility of awakening my mother, I put the T Bird in neutral, rolled into the street, and down the road about 100 yards before I started it. It was no easy feat as the car had power steering and required every ounce of my strength to force the wheels to comply.

When I made to the two-lane blacktop I stress tested every part of that car. Starting with the hole shot burnout that smoked the tires for a 100 yards. Turning a couple doughnuts in the parking lot of a local Jiffy Mart put big smiles on my face. Rather than press my luck further I drove the car back home. My plan was to come down the road with just enough speed to be able to cut ignition and coast up and my mother driveway, go back in the house and put the keys down bed. However, I underestimated the car came to a stop about 12 feet from where it had been parked originally. Not very far off. But, something that would definitely have been noticed.

I spent a very long time sitting there, trying to decide what to do next. I had three choices:
first choice: Leave it right there and deny deny deny.
second choice: Roll the car back out into the street, down the road, start it and try again.
third choice: start the engine and drive forward 12 feet.

I turned the ignition, tapped the accelerator and the engine sprang into life. Simultaneously my mom appeared at the drivers side door, hands on hips eyes glaring daggers. I opened the door and submitted myself to her rage. However, it became evident quite early in her lecture that she believed she had caught me trying to leave, rather than actually returning after the fact. I never once corrected her on that assumption. I let her go to her grave, believing she had caught me before I stole a car. 
I'm sorry mom.
You used to say: "I hope when you grow-up,  you have children just like you."

I'm so thankful that you were my mother, and for you not getting that particular wish fulfilled.


red.neck chic said...

LMBO!!!!!!!!!!!! Kurt - I absolutely adore you!!!

I'm so glad I'm not alone in the Grand Theft Auto game... hahahaha!

This is GREAT!

;-D xoxoxoxo

Karen said...

ROLLING ON THE FLOOR!!!!... what a riot, bless your mothers heart and your restless spirited self. I would have just left it and denied denied denied. But maybe you didn't even have that much time anyway before the jig was up. :-)

Love that first car. My guy re-did a 55 chevy belair to monster proportions - I'll do a post on it sometime.

floweringmama said...

Oh my! My fear has always been that I would have children just like me! :-)


Fabulous story, I really enjoyed reading it!

It made me laugh when you talked about doing doughnuts in the car park.She would have had a fit if you could have seen you.

Well written, Kurt and



Fabulous story, I really enjoyed reading it!

It made me laugh when you talked about doing doughnuts in the car park.She would have had a fit if you could have seen you.

Well written, Kurt and


Red Shoes said...

The very first photo! I remember my Dad buying that car!! Instead of blue, it was some kind of 'Sea Foam Green'... but it was beautiful!!!

I hadn't thought about that automobile in forever...

Your mother sounds like a dear!


2Thinks said...

Fun, fun, fun, til yer mama takes the T-Bird away-ay.

Meatloaf served upon request. Anytime, Eastern Standard.

Cloudia said...

Wonderful! I feel even more like we have been friends for a LONG time!

First year the toyota imported the celica? OH YEAH! I couldn;t believe my folks bought it - a little rocketship I got to drive around in the middle of the night. Did we race?

Loved the folks T-birds too - but I was too young to dream of driving them...that fairlane ROCKS!!!! takes me back to small kid days- thanks pal!!

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral