Monday, January 22, 2018

Your first car

AN OLD FAMILY friend, Abe DeVries, passed away a few weeks ago. Abe and my dad were friends for years. He was a big guy who wrestled professionally as "The Flying Dutchman" before getting into the car sales business. He was involved in a number of different business ventures over the years but it always came back to selling vehicles, and I loved the guy.

I bought my first car from Abe in 1985. After several years of driving the family vehicles, which included a Dodge Dart and a massive station wagon (think the Family Truckster in Metallic Pea from the movie Vacation), I bit the bullet and bought a tiny Dodge Colt from Abe. It was about seven years old, had a stick shift and cost about $900. I didn't know how to drive a stick, and I can remember stalling it on the East Beltline driving to work one cold and snowy day in March.

Hey. If you are gonna learn, you might as well learn as a bunch of pissed off Grand Rapids drivers are flying by you.

My old Colt looked just like this one.
I loved that little car. I took it to Mount Pleasant for my first year of school at Central Michigan University. But it got cold and the gas line froze and it didn't work again until my roommate, Marty Horjus, somehow towed it with his car to a mechanic, who thawed it out and got it running. I got it back and it froze again. So I waited until it warmed up.

Then I got done with my first year at CMU, packed up my stuff and drove back to Grand Rapids. I pulled into the driveway at 2355 Rosewood, and I heard a massive CLUNK. The wheel well rusted out and the entire front end caved in. I couldn't believe it. We drove it to a couple of mechanics, and they just shrugged and said they couldn't fix it, and it was too dangerous to drive.

So my dad and I towed it to junkyard off of US 131 in Walker, a northern Grand Rapids suburb. The owner gave me $20 and hubcabs for the family station wagon. Twenty freaking dollars! I had just moved in with five buddies to a big house at Sigsbee and Giddings near Eastown. I bought a case of beer, and we sat on the porch, and they watched me cry.

I learned my lesson with my car, so I bought a nice Schwinn bike instead and I rode it the next two years of college. When I graduated, I bought a new Ford Festiva. It was just as tiny as the Colt. I had a friend install a stereo system and I thought I was hot stuff.

After that, it was Jeeps and Hondas, then two Impalas, and now we are back to a Jeep. We are a one-vehicle family. But .... if there are any old Colts out there ....

I'm sure you have stores about your first car!

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