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Big Chuck

June 30, 2014

It's just a short drive down my memory lane

Oh, if my old man’s car could talk.

My father never had a lot of money. He had a lot of kids (eight) but not a lot of dough. Still, 1963 must have been a pretty good year for my folks in their little grocery store. That was the year that Dad bought his only brand, new car.

It is a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible with a swing-away steering column and it is a museum.

Every year, my sister Teri and her husband, Tom Schunk, take my Mom out for a ride in a couple of local parades. My dad always used to do this. “Taking the old girl for a ride in the old girl,” he used to call it.

My siblings and I loved to go on family rides in the Galaxie. Dad would always drive and Mom would be his cheerful co-pilot. They both smoked back then, so I can see them puffing away on their cigarettes as the car slowly clouded up. Soon it would start to get really close inside the car.

“Hey, kids, don’t worry. Mom and I will crack open the wing windows.”

Wing windows were pre-air conditioning ventilator windows that swiveled in and out, giving the illusion of some kind of an air exchange in the vehicle. They haven’t made wing windows in cars since the 1960s, but that is OK. They never really worked.

The back seat was just one long bench. No personal space, like today’s cars. Just one long, slippery bench. The seating capacity of the rear seat was limited only by your imagination. And while we never got eight back there, we sure tried! Oh, and no seat belts either. I remember a lot of leg room, too, unlike today’s “knees in your ears” cubicles that pass for rear seats. There was plenty of room for Mom to blindly swing her left arm back and forth at us while saying, “Enough, or somebody is going to end up crying.”

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