THE DAY I TOOK DAD’S CAR TO THE DRAG STRIP
Have you ever done something on a dare and all the 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. On Sundays it became a local drag strip. If you don’t know what a drag strip is, it's a place where you could take a car and have it timed to see how fast it might go in a quarter of a mile. In the late 50s’ the drag strip for many was a big deal. If you have ever heard of groups like the Hondells, the Rip Chords 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 teenage boy: a car, rock and roll music, and girls; 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. For some time I had been goaded by some of my buddies to run “my” car at the 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 will say I always had a curiosity as to what she “might do.” What got into me, I will never know for sure but one Sunday afternoon I allowed what good reasoning I had to leave me for a while. I would fall prey to my buddies challenge so... 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 is “What would I tell dad if that transmission goes?”
Today I was walking through a local car museum. A guy here in Franklin owns nearly fifty, maybe sixty cars and has them all in a local warehouse. I was told very few people get in to see his collection. Through some maneuvering and the kindness of a good friend, she saw to it that my wife and I got in. About fifteen minutes into my journey through the warehouse what do I come upon? Yes, a 57 Chevy! There she was, just like my dad’s. Well, a few exceptions, dad did not, nor would he ever have had fender skirts. If you are from the 50s’ you know the lingo - fender skirts, and no spinner hubcaps for dad; but otherwise same car, color, hardtop and V-8 stick shift.
You know, regardless of age I guess there might be a few things we still would never tell “Mom and Dad.” I bet you have some similar confessions, right?
April 7, 2014