A Death In The Family

It is done.

My dear and loyal truck has gone to that great highway in the sky. On May 22, 2003, at 8:18 pm, my truck passed away, never to grace the roads again. Some twenty years ago (twenty years!) my 1983 Ford F150 rolled off a Detroit assembly line. Even earlier, in 1979, the heart of my truck, its 351ci 5.7l V8 engine was forged in iron and fire. For all those years and for 208,884 miles my beautiful truck roamed the earth, a monster of the highway and a warrior of the road. By the time my truck actually became mine (Sept 98) it was worn from the road but still a fast, powerful juggernaut on wheels. I added to its aura. Every scrape and every dent was a battle scar that I displayed proudly. My truck and I should have been born in a different age, an age where guts and power mattered, not looks and style. An age where gas was scarce and the road was a white lined nightmare, where merely driving down the street was an invitation for war.

But I digress.

In our age of fuel injection and four cylinder engines my truck was a relic of a different time. Misunderstood, looked down upon, even pitied. No longer. Those days now live only in my memories. Memories of a great, powerful V8, who’s rumbling sound sent shivers down my spine. The simple growl of its idle made me smile, as perhaps a World War II soldier smiled at hearing a tank coming to his aid. Memories of a continuous battle with age, replacing parts, welding pieces together, and long, dark nights covered in grease and grime armed with WD 40 and a propane torch asking God why can't I get this simple bolt off. Memories of overconfident kids with daddy's car, thinking “There is no way that blue POS could possibly beat me off the line”. They never heard of a sleeper. Memories of screaming down the highway, neck and neck with whatever poor slob decided to run with me, knuckles white hard on the wheel, engine just ROARING, without a split-second of time to glance down at tach or speedometer, with my whole world being centered on keeping ahead of the other guy. Memories of daylong trips, whole adventures depending on a machine almost as old as I was. Memories of hauling and towing, helping friends move heavy, bulky things; proving why trucks are cool. Memories of a wide bench seat, dark nights, and a loving girl. Memories of a friend.

What was my friend's name? He/She/It had so many. When we were in the pole position tensed for the green, me brake torquing and my truck anxious to go, he was The Beast. When we raced down the highway for any given reason she was Betsy, and I would plead with her to give me just a little more speed. Among friends it was the Clanking Disaster or the Blue Bomber. When I was lying prone underneath it struggling with whatever system decided to torment me it was any number of curse words spoken in any number of the variations available to an angry former Marine infantryman. When we would be destroying construction barrels, running over boxes, or sideswiping cars she would be Petunia, in honor of another truck that crushed something very evil. But mostly, it was simply My Truck.

Like all things great and small, it had to end. But a small part of my old truck will live on with my new one, an old part that is easily recognizable to those of you who know me. My truck will ride on in whatever afterlife awaits it. Someday, I will see it again, and we will ride, and the roads will be ours.

You will be missed, my friend.