"I was a real car guy as a kid. I read about cars, I drew cars, I played with cars. I lived to have one of my own. As I was approaching my 16th birthday, naturally all I could talk about was cars. I would scan the want ads in the Sunday paper, pointing out the cool cars that I thought I might be able to afford. My parents would just smile, sometimes say something like "We'll see", or "wouldn't that be nice", or something like that and then smile at each other. Then of course, the lecture about responsibilities, costs and the need for a job would be next. But somehow, I secretly thought that their knowing smiles meant something.
Regrettably, it did.
My 16th birthday fell on a Saturday, and I awoke expecting great things. Mom and Dad had already said that the family would go wherever I wanted to have a big birthday lunch and then we would do "something else fun" afterwards. So about 11:30 that morning, my parents and I, plus my two little sisters, piled into the family Ford wagon and went to Shakeys Pizza. My folks and my sisters gave me their birthday cards at the restaurant, and the complete lack of presents had me convinced about the meaning of Mom and Dad's knowing smiles.
After finishing with pizza and Pepsi, we got back in the car and drove off. I asked where we were going, and Dad just grinned, winked at mom and said "hang on - you'll see". EUREKA! I thought, we ARE going to pick up my new car! No two ways about it!
Naturally , I wasn't expecting a NEW car. I wondered which dealer we were heading to, or which used car lot my new ride was waiting on. But pretty quickly, we were out of the area where the car lots were and heading out of the city.
Before long, we pulled up in the driveway of a small house on the outskirts of town. I had never been there before, but I knew who owned the place; Mr and Mrs Franklin, and older couple that we went to church with. I knew it was their house because I recognized their car. But sitting in front of their car, was a new Chrysler with paper plates. I began to put two and two together and my heart sank...
Sure enough...SURPRISE! There was my new car. A 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook sedan. It was maroon with a white roof and a grey interior. Although 15 years old at the time, it was clean and shiny as a new one. Mr Franklin took real good care of it. But a 4 door Plymouth with a flathead six and three speed transmission?!? Ugh.
I tried to smile and be gracious. I didn't want to hurt the Franklin's feelings and sure didn't want to hurt my folks. The hundred dollars Dad paid for that car was a real stretch for them, and they were very proud of their gift. But man, what a disappointment it was to me. As someone said in an earlier post that I read, it was a "motorized emasculation device".
But still, it was a car.
Naturally, my friends were not impressed. The car quickly gained the nickname 'Cranberry' given the color and model. I immediately removed the hubcaps and painted the wheels a glossy black. Chrome lugnuts were purchased with some birthday money my grandparents sent as well as a Cherry Bomb muffler. It wasn't much, but I tried to "cool" it up as much as I could!
The car was as reliable as a Swiss watch despite the beatings I inflicted on it, and got me around town, to school and to my job at a local grocery store. The job paid well, and within about a year and a half, I could finally afford a cool car, so the Plymouth was sold for exactly what Dad had paid for it.
Lots of people dream wistfully about their first car and all the great times in it, and wish they could have it back. Not me.
My second car though is a different story!"