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Me and my truck

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Is it sick to love a vehicle? I sure hope not because I really, really love my truck. It’s my ex-truck now, but during the 31 years that she was mine we got very close.

The romance started on July 18, 1987. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in my small hometown in Louisiana and I was on leave from the Army. I had convinced my mom to release the money she had saved for me to go to college to finance the truck. I had every intention of paying her back, but she wouldn’t hear of it. I had done my shopping and had settled on a blue 1978 Ford F-150 and after my brother and I took it for a test drive I was smitten. Was it perfect? No, but it suited my needs quite well. It was somewhat “loaded” with options we now consider standard equipment such as power steering, power brakes, AM/FM cassette stereo, and most importantly – air conditioning and after signing a few papers she was mine.

I was 19 years old at the time and not at all mechanically inclined. This became most evident when I took the truck to a local mechanic to look it over. I had already bought the truck “as-is,” but

I wanted to know what the burning, smoky smell was. It turned out that I should have let the mechanic look it over before I finalized the sale, because he said that it wouldn’t be long before a complete engine overhaul would be necessary. Until then, he said, run 20w50 oil in it and hope for the best. That worked just fine and me and that truck began our journeys together.

The first trip was back to my duty station in North Carolina. There were no technical issues that I can recall, but I did learn that I did not particularly care for driving such a long distance by myself. Oh well. While I was on active duty, me and my best bud, Tom, went all over creation in that truck. We went to Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Virginia, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia just to name a few. The truck never let us down, but Tom let the truck down one time on our way to Savannah when he ran out of gas while I was napping in the passenger seat. He still feels kind of bad about that – even after all these years.

After the Army I moved back home for college, and I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras more than once in the truck. By this time, I had named it “Ol Blue” – mainly because the paint was starting to fade, and I didn’t have the money to get it repainted. This was also about the time when I met my girlfriend who is now my wife and without saying too much, we had some very steamy times in “Ol Blue.” I would take it to Lafayette, Louisiana regularly to be with her and her family and I think it overheated once, but by this time I had learned some mechanical skills and replaced the thermostat and the water pump, and all was well.

Our next big journey was out to west Texas – Odessa. My wife wanted to dive into bilingual education and even though it was a long way from home we took the truck – and a moving van to what seemed like the desert. After 3 years of no grass, no trees, and no seafood we loaded up and moved to Atascosita, and then to Navasota. I don’t know how many people I helped move over the years. It seemed like once folks know that you have a truck, you get really popular – especially when heavy lifting is involved.

Thomas McGuane wrote in his lyrical essay collection, Some Horses “There is a notion that you get only one great horse in a lifetime.” I’m about the furthest thing from being a cowboy, but I wonder if this saying might also hold true for trucks. I sure hope so, because “Ol Blue” was a trusted, dependable member of my family for 31 years. On March 9, 2019 she was adopted and she has a new family now - I just hope they know what they have.

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Alan Shoalmire. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.

Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant Hotdogs and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.