Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Gray Dumpster

Copyright 1992 by Cheyenne Palisades

The Gray Dumpster: The First Car I Ever Owned

My first car was a gray 1950 Dodge Coronet which I bought in 1968, when I was 19, for $30. To say she was in poor condition would be an understatement. She listed to one side like a ship taking on water, and the finish looked as if it had been worked over by an army of mechanics with ball-peen hammers. The mohair interior had become no-hair, and padding erupted from the front seat like an overstuffed turkey on Thanksgiving. The driver's door didn't open, causing me to have to get in and out on the passenger (uphill side).

Because she needed a battery, I would park her on the hill behind Shoney's, where I worked. The manager (a great kidder, he), once told me the garbage truck had tried to empty her-- and so the car acquired a name-- the Gray Dumpster.

The Dumpster had a fluid drive transmission, which meant I could drive her as either a three-speed or as an automatic; the clutch was optional. So, apparently, were the radio and heater. The car was cold in the winter, and I would sing to keep myself company. Her tires were bald, and there was no spare. When I would have a flat I would drive until I reached a gas station and buy a replacement for five or six dollars.

I drove the Gray Dumpster for more than a year without problem. Surprisingly, she didn't take her last voyage with me. I sold her for $15 to a cook who wrecked her by going the wrong way up a one-way street. The next day, I went with him to the dump to see her, gray and ugly as ever, but now squashed.

The Gray Dumpster would have been a bargain even at $50.

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