(This is part two of a series.)
Going from Piggly Wiggly to Food Fair may not seem like a big deal to most, but it was the first move of my career. It meant a higher wage, more hours, and at last, my very first car payment.
As I look back, I realize that my parents either found or handed me down my first four cars. I'm not sure if my Dad had some kind of connection with the crap car black market or what. But in the summer of 1989, the car they found to replace the Monte Carlo was a baby blue 1984 Ford Escort.
The Escort was Ford Motor Company's finest economy car offering. Well, at least since the Pinto. It came standard with a 1.6 Liter sixty-eight horsepower engine, which is roughly the equivalent of three Husqvarna lawn tractors. Mine featured sport stripes down the side and louvers on the back window. Yes, louvers. Back when louvers were "in" of course.
Another feature of the 'Scort was an equalizer for the AM/FM radio and cassette player. Now I don't know if a previous owner removed the subwoofers when they sold the car or what. But the speakers I heard were standard factory speakers, at best. Which made the equalizer about as useful as an extended forecast.
Finally, the 'Scort was stricken with SBD, or Squealing Belt Disease. If you've not experienced this personally, you've surely heard it from other cars. The one and only symptom of SBD is a high-pitched squealing noise, especially prevalent when the car first starts. It can be a bit embarrassing, especially for a 16-year-old in the high school parking lot. But after awhile, you learn to just turn up the radio and pretend you have no idea what everyone is staring at.
There were good times to be had as well. I had my first official pick-her-up-and-take-her-home date in the 'Scort, with the Algebra teacher's daughter. She was also the Physics teacher, which might help explain how I fell asleep at least two days a week and still got an A in the class.
We went out twice. Our first date, we stood outside her house until her Dad starting cutting the porch light off and on, and I ended up breaking my curfew, not getting home until around 1 AM. On our second date, we went to the mall. I bought a New Kids On The Block cassette. And we never went out again.
I was also driving the 'Scort when I began dating Rachel, my first real actual girlfriend. Sometime in 1990, I wrecked the 'Scort, rear-ending another car as I fiddled with my radio or gazed at the countryside or something. It was totaled. Not that it was a bad accident, but as the car only cost $1800 when I bought it, hitting a bird would have probably totaled it.
As I write these posts, I'm beginning to realize they are more about memories of myself and people from my past than they are about any one car. Still as I think back now, I can't help but wonder, were louvers ever really in?
"You're my popsicle. From the very first time I met you girl, you captured me..."