Old ve-hickles are just my style

Published 8:45 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

Daddy was partial to old cars.

Actually old ve-hickles.

My friend Bannie said the “h” in vehicles is silent. But I’m a sister of the South. I don’t talk that-away.

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But no matter – sedan, station wagon, truck or tractor – Daddy was not going to pay top dollar for any ve-hickle. He wasn’t going to spend his hard earned money for a “shine.”

The ugliest car we ever had was a dark green Hudson. It looked like a bloated bullfrog that was about to croak. But it didn’t. It was “durable,” Daddy said.

One of Daddy’s trucks had different colored doors but it ran good. A farm truck had wooden sides about six feet tall that leaned way to the left causing motorists to take to the ditch when they met the “Pisa” truck coming.

Daddy liked station wagons and he bought a variety of over-used ones. One was a Ford with wooden sides. Today, that car would be a classic and worth probably more than a brand new hybrid.

Not only was the station wagon old and ugly, it was also dangerous. If you make a quick turn, the door on the passenger side would fly open causing a suction so strong that even the driver would have to hang on for dear life.

Tales of woe were reason for Daddy to re-tell the story of Verbie and the ve-hickle.

Verbie cleaned house for Aunt Tom who was notorious for her antics behind the wheel. One day she was “wheeling” Verbie home and, when she screeched to a halt at Verbie’ s house and turned around to say goodbye, Verbie wasn’t in the backseat or anywhere to be seen.

Aunt Tom knew that Verbie had gotten in the car so she retraced her route. When she got to the corner of Main Street in Brundidge, there sat Verbie on the curb. When Aunt Tom had taken the corner on two wheels, the back door came open and Verbie slid right out in the street. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt but, from then on, she walked home.

Daddy’s wooden station wagon was, therefore, dubbed the Verba-tron adding to its eccentricity.

My granddaddy, Pop, was a bit eccentric himself. He had never really cared what he drove. But when he was well into his senior years, he announced that he was going to buy a new car. He had found the one he wanted at the Ford place in Brundidge. A “shiny” Mercury Marquis.

Daddy almost had a turkey. But Pop said he didn’t care how much the car cost. It was the one he wanted.

Daddy struck out for the Ford place and came back with the good news that he had found a couple of “real nice, used cars at good prices.”

Pop thumped his walking stick on the floor as he always did when he was taking charge. “I’ve got a ‘used car,’” he said. “I want the one with lids over the headlights.”

He got it.

He kept the new car in the “car shed” as Daddy called it. I think Daddy said that just to get Mama started, like when he called the Frigidaire “the icebox.”

“William, we’ve not had an icebox in 40 years,” Mama would say somewhat exasperated.

But Pop was hard of hearing, and he couldn’t tell that the car, with the lids over the lights, was cranked until it started to vibrate. Then, he would jerk the gear into reverse and roar out of the “car shed” backwards with no regard to anything in his path.

I got the used car gene from Daddy and Pop. Like them, as long as a ve-hickle has four wheels, a steering wheel and brakes, I don’t really care what it looks like, although I do prefer a CD player.

My car Maybelle comes from a long line of used ve-hickles. She has no shine and a bad case of road-acea. She’s splotched and peeling but she has a good air conditioner and heater, a CD player and she gets 39mpg.

But she is aging, actually 175,000 miles, and has a cough and chokes every now and then. So, I was on the verge of looking for something — new.

What I had in mind was one of those Cubes. They kind of look like me. But, when I looked close enough to see the price tag, I realized that I am my daddy’s girl.

I’m kind of partial to old ve-hickles.