Funny how an image can reach into one’s soul and stir up passions. I can still feel the key in my hand and hear the throaty sound of the engine come alive as I start her up in my mind. It was a simple ride, the car almost an afterthought to the engine that powered it. That I am alive to tell this tale is almost a miracle in itself.
The ’69 Firebird was a young 10 when I took delivery from a friend. Poor guy needed the cash for the next semester and I could feel the weight on his shoulders as he handed me the keys. He was a good sport and must’ve seemed ok with it, given my enthusiasm at the time. I’d give him a ride to the racket ball courts every so often and he’d ask to drive back.
“Here, take the keys. Let’s go.”
In an age seemingly hamstrung with caution, the free spirit of this car reminds me of a much simpler and innocent time; a time marked by fewer distractions and worries, but maybe I’m just fooling myself.
So many stories with this beast. Running a 350HO with a 3-speed racing clutch, I could do 60mph in first gear… not that I ever did (wink). It was like riding on the back of a bull. Left only the driver’s seat in when I ditched college for a high-paying union job in the spring of 1980. I’d throw my hard hat, pick and shovel for the two hour ride to the site in south Georgia. $13/hour was serious cash back in the day. Just sayin’.
So much caution these days. Almost as though people are afraid to express themselves anymore. No law against letting loose every so often.
Nothing since this sweet ride has ever come close. I can still remember waiting for my mom at Dulles Airport that summer of 1981, having returned from Berlin. Can still hear that deep, throaty engine coming up and around the final stretch with my elegant mom behind the wheel… a hilarious contrast.
A swore I saw my old friend the other day. Happened so fast, I wonder if I’d seen a ghost.