Have you ever done something on a dare and the entire time you were doing it you were scared? Really scared?
Not too far from where I grew up in southwestern Indiana was an old airport air strip, but on Sundays it became a local drag strip. If you don’t know what a drag strip is, it is a place you can take your car and have it timed to see how fast it might go in a quarter of a mile. In the late fifties the drag strip for many of us was a big deal. If you have ever heard groups like the Hondells, The Rip Chords, Jan and Dean or the Beach Boys do songs like, “409,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” or “Hey Little Cobra,” you know the picture. On a Sunday afternoon in many small towns in the 1950s’ such a place consisted of three of the most important elements in the life of a teenager. A car, music and girls (boys). And not necessarily in that order. Check out the movie “American Graffiti.”
One of the favorite cars of the time was a 1957 Chevy. In 1960, my senior year in high school, my dad bought a ’57 Chevy. It was the family car. What got into me I will never know for sure, but for some time I had been goaded by some of my buddies to run “my” car at this strip. “Come on Adamson run that thing; let’s see what she’ll do.” “You chicken.” It was a V-8 stick shift, and I’ll have to say, I always had a curiosity as to what she might do. One Sunday afternoon I allowed what good reasoning I had to leave me for a while, and I fell prey to the challenge of my buddies. I ran dad’s car. That quarter mile seemed like it stretched from Terre Haute to Indianapolis. I cringed every time I shifted the gears through the run. All I could think of was “What would I tell dad if the transmission goes?”
Today I was walking through a local privately owned car collection. A guy here in Franklin has nearly fifty, maybe sixty old antique cars in a local warehouse. I was told very few people get in to see his collection. Through some maneuvering and the goodness of a good friend my wife and I got in. For me it was like Chris Krinkle walking through Santa's workshop. About fifteen minutes into my walking journey through the warehouse what did I come upon but, yes, a ‘57 Chevy. There she was, just like my dad’s. Well, with a few exceptions, dad did not, nor would he ever have fender skirts. If you are from the ‘50s’, you know the lingo, fender skirts. Also, no spinner hubcaps for dad. But otherwise it was the same car, color, and same hardtop.
As I stood by the car (picture taken) a big smile came over me, and I thought, “I never did tell my dad about the day I drag raced his car.” The day I took dad’s car to the drag strip.
You know, regardless of age, I guess there might be a few things we never told “Mom and Dad.” I bet you have some similar confessions, right?
April 7, 2014