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.