Tuesday, April 26, 2016

FORD TOUGH



  This is a picture of my 1957 Ford pick-up truck in the late 1970's. It was Ford tough and built like a tank. I loved this old truck. A friend of mine named Joe, who worked with me at Colonial Baking company, sold it to me. Joe had tied a bunch of artificial red roses to the front grill. I asked him why and he said that he had declared the truck dead and had given it a funeral. The flowers were on that grill the whole time I owned it. I would love to have a nickel for every time I had to help my sister Donna move. She lived all over Nashville and Middle Tennessee at one time or another. Because of her, I came to detest helping people move. To make things worse she always managed to find an upstairs apartment. For reasons I will never understand she moved to Sullivan Illinois in 1977. I worked five days a week at Colonial. Tuesday and Saturday were my days off. Donna decided to move back to Nashville and asked me to help her. It is 333 miles or nearly five hours to drive from Nashville to Sullivan. I would only have my day off to move her and I couldn't see how it could possibly be done. She begged me over and over to help her. There was nobody else. She kept saying that it was only a three hour drive to Sullivan. Of course I didn't believe it but I was on a guilt trip by now. Very early on a Tuesday morning, in the early fall,  Donna, her son Larry, and myself set off in my truck for Illinois. My tires looked like racing slicks, they were so worn. When we arrived at her apartment in Sullivan, my heart sank as I realized that she had nothing packed. Working like a fiend I just threw everything in the bed of the truck. My anger grew because this whole process was taking a lot longer than I had hoped. It was well after dark when we finally got on the road back to Nashville. My nephew Larry was my load strap. He was lying spread eagle on top of everything the whole way back to Tennessee so we wouldn't lose anything. It was well into the early morning hours of Wednesday morning when we reached Clarksville. I had to be at work that afternoon at two oclock. So far so good. I was fighting sleep but my truck had made the trip without incident. No break downs or flat tires. Suddenly my generator light came on but the truck was running fine. I decided to chance it and kept on driving. We made it home without incident. My bed felt so good and I was able to get a few hours of sleep before I went to work. The next time I tried to start my truck however, it wouldn't start. I had to jump it off or use my clutch to get it started. This went on for a long time and the truck sat in front of my house for months. I am a master at procrastination and know little about mechanical issues. Finally in the summer of 1978 I decided to try to get it fixed. My brother-in- law Ronnie Phillips was a mechanic and I asked him to look at it for me. The only problem was I had to get it to him in East Nashville. 

  The truck was parked in my driveway, which was on a hill. Debbie was going to drive our 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring and I was going to drive the truck to her dad's house on Boscobel St. We lived on JoAnn Court in Antioch. Robbie and Misty wanted to ride with me. I put Misty in the cab and Robbie hopped up in the bed of the truck. My emergency brake wasn't working but it was in gear and for added insurance I used my spare tire as a chock. As I was getting ready to leave I put the tire in the bed of the truck. I was in the cab and getting ready to leave when I suddenly remembered something that I needed to tell Debbie and got out of the truck. I walked over to our front porch to stick my head in the door when I heard Robbie hollering. I looked around in time to see the truck rolling backwards down the driveway with Robbie standing up in the back, next to the cab. Luckily, Misty had gotten out of the truck and was standing in the driveway. I took off running as fast as I could but it quickly became apparent that it was going too fast for me to catch up with it. The truck was picking up speed as it rolled downhill. I told Robbie to lie down in the bed of the truck. He laid down on his stomach with his feet toward the tail gate. At first the truck rolled straight as an arrow toward a pick-up truck sitting in a driveway across the street. At the very last moment it swerved to the left and plowed through a short section of chain link fence and broadsided a blue Ford Mustang that was parked in the back yard. I was still running when Robbie jumped up and I could see that he was okay. The Mustangs whole side was caved in but I didn't care because that car probably saved Robbie's life. A few feet beyond the car, at the end of the yard, was a bluff. I was shaking like a leaf as a crowd of neighbors began gathering around us. To this day I shutter at how close to death or serious injury that Robbie came. 

  By this time the neighbor that owned the house came outside and was very understanding considering my truck had just destroyed his fence and heavily damaged his son's car. His son's name was Charlie Brown and he was in the Army stationed in Germany. That is why his car was parked in the back yard. Unfortunately my truck was not insured because I very seldom drove it. Needless to say I promised him that I would make good on the damage. I had not had a real vacation since I was discharged from the Air Force in 1972. We were leaving for Panama City in a couple of days and I was determined that I was going on that vacation. I got a estimate on the fence and found out it would take a hundred dollars to replace it. The car was a different matter. I knew that I wouldn't be able to take care of it for a while, regardless of whether I went on vacation or not. A few days after the accident we left for Panama City and spent a week there. That vacation is a story for another time. When we got back home my neighbor was mad as a hornet. He was angry because I went on vacation instead of saving money for his son's car. I told him that I would try to work something out with Charlie when he got home. He told me that Charlie would kick my ass. I told him that I would cross that bridge later. My brother-in law Ronnie checked out my truck but couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. A few weeks later I found out that Charlie was home on leave from Germany. I saw him in his yard and not knowing what to expect I walked over toward him. He saw me and we met in the street. There was no hint of trouble and he smiled as he shook my hand. I apologized for the accident and asked him what it would take to settle with him. My truck was parked in front of the house. He pointed at it and asked "What's wrong with the truck"? I told him that I had trouble starting it. I popped the hood and almost in the blink of an eye he reached over and reconnected a loose wire . He said "Try it now". I did and the truck started right up. It was very embarrassing that I had overlooked something so simple. However my brother-in-law was a mechanic and he failed to spot it. Charlie said, "Give me the truck and we will call it even". After a handshake and a sigh of relief, it was done.        

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