Tales from a Rural Route are some of my memories growing up in rural Kentucky.
It was near the end of my junior year, circa 1980, and I met a girl. And like any red blooded American male should do, I asked her out on a date. Thankfully, she said yes. We made arrangements to go out the next Saturday. I asked dad if I could borrow his car, a 79 Ford LTD II Coupe. Black with gray interior, a V-8 under the hood and a kick ass stereo, this car would flat out fly and looked good doing it. He said yes and I couldn’t wait for the weekend.
Then Saturday arrived and my father dropped the bad news: he and my mother decided to go out for the night and he would need the car. With a heavy heart, I called “the girl” and let he know the bad news. She asked if I had another car we could use. I glanced out the window and the only thing in the driveway was The Truck. I’m pretty sure it was red in color, but with all the dents and rust, I couldn’t be sure. When I said all I had was a beat up old 67 Ford pickup, she said that would work.
I laughed and informed her I would never want to roll up to her house driving The Truck. What a first impression. But she was persistent and wanted to go to the movies and against my better judgement, I agreed.
A bit more on The Truck. It had power steering, meaning it required a lot of power to turn the wheel. It had so many dents that one night when I’d been run of the road driving The Truck, I plowed through several pine trees and my father couldn’t point out the new dents when he looked the next morning. The bed of the truck consisted of either rust or holes. Even split.
When I got to her house, her parents, thank the dear Lord, were not home. We made it to dinner and a movie and I managed to get her home a few minutes this side of her midnight curfew.
I walked her to the door. It was a beautiful night, the moon full, the sky cloudless and it seemed every star in the sky shined for us. We finally got to the moment where I needed to decide if I should kiss her goodnight. When she looked into my eyes, I knew the answer. With a slight smile, I slipped my hands around her waist, pulled her close, tilted my head towards her and–
A loud whistling noise rose from under the hood of my truck, high pitched and LOUD. Steam began to pour from under the truck, filling the night air. Every light in the house went on and a moment later, the door to the house opened and there stood her father.
He quickly introduced himself, grabbed a flashlight and had me pop the hood. Seems I had a hole in the hose from the water pump. He went back inside, got some duct tape and proceeded to patch the hole. Then he got a bucket of water and we tapped off the radiator.
He couldn’t have been nicer and he never mentioned the fact I’d taken his daughter out in a death trap. He shook my hand and then stood there, smiling and waiting for me to say good night to his daughter. I swallowed hard a few times, then offered her a wave, got into The Truck and rambled off into the night.
It would not be the last night we would drive the car she named Red Baron, but it would be the most memorable. I never had another first date quite like it.