There is nothing, nothing more important than having your own car. Just know that. The world’s deepest divide is between those teenage boys who have a car and those miserable, hopeless failures who do not have a car. To have a car was to have near absolute freedom. When I was 15 that was my Raison de vivre, my dream, to get a car and drive directly to my Destiny, a place and a space of my own providing me with crazy, laughing friends and girls, yes the girls, the females were the prize and the four door, 55 Chevy sedan which I managed to buy for 250 dollars, that was my ‘Little Red Corvette’.
The summer of my 16th year tumultuous. My father was quite ill from a combination of old war injuries and habitual drinking then ended up at the Veterans Hospital in Des Moines. We had moved to a small 80 acre farm, small enough that my dad could farm it during the day and work at Grey Iron Foundry in Marshalltown at night. It was brutal and his already damaged lungs could not take it. At this point I had to do all of the farm work myself including milking 10 cows morning and night. School was in between milking the cows. This lasted for about a month until my Dad got out of the hospital and decided to sell the cows. I was glad but knew that our situation was dire and that another move was coming.
I worked all summer long for other farmers making hay, doing chores and hauling manure. The old farmers liked me because I could operate tractors and heavy equipment with skill and confidence, sometimes better than them because my dad taught me to look and listen to machines. He said a good mechanic can tell what is wrong with an engine by the sounds it makes. He taught me how to take things, machinery apart, step by step, remember what it looked before you start. It took me all summer but by the beginning of September I had 250 dollars and bought my first car from Ronny Tuttle who was graduating from High School and stepping on up to a new car. White with a blue interior it Was ….
September 24, 1963 at 4:00 am I got up, did chores, had breakfast and got into our 1958 Ford sedan with my dad and drove to Nevada, Iowa to the Court House and at 9:00 sharp I walked into the Sheriffs office and told the Deputy I wanted to take my driving test. In those days there wasn’t any…