When I was in my youth, there was a bit of variety in choice, but for most it came down to two choices. The division begins at early age and you figure out that you are either on one side or the other pretty soon.
Do you drive a Chevrolet or a FORD (Fix Or Repair Daily)?
Now in our household we were a Chevrolet family. From the early blue Malibu to the golden Chevy pickup to the candy apple red Monte Carlo. Everything my parents drove at that point was a Chevrolet.
I do have a faint remembrance of my brother driving a Volkswagen bug when he was in service. He wore out two motors hauling sailors back and forth from Norfolk to Atlanta. I will say one thing about those bugs — they didn’t use much gas. But one thing about it, you sure could not tell how to operate one. All the little buttons had funny little symbols on them. I remember right after he first got it, we went for a ride. We nearly froze to death trying to figure out how to turn on the heater. After we got back, sporting two different shades of blue, my mom jumped in and drove it around the block. When she got out, she said, “Boy, that thing has a dandy heater in it.”
I still wonder where that heater knob was.
By the time I got to driving age, it was time for me to make my decision. Will I be a Chevy or a Ford man.
My dad and I went to the government auction and looked over a variety of cars. With my limited funds, in spite of the fact I wanted a Chevy, I got my own Ford Pinto. Now, I grew to love that car until it perished in a collision with a great big Chevy.
I then graduated to a Ford Pinto station wagon, and later a Ford Fairmont station wagon.
Now, if this is looking like a trend, it isn’t. It just seemed like that’s all those folks at the govern-ment auctions wanted to get rid of. Guess they wanted to keep their Chevys.
Finally, since I was traveling so much on the road between music appearances, my mother con-vinced me to invest in a brand new Chevy S-10, metallic blue with an extended cab. Boy, was I proud of that truck, even though it cost more than my parent’s first house.
Why is that you reckon? There is something wrong when to buy a car, you have to pay what some-one paid for the house they live in.
“Blue,” as I called my Chevy, served me until 2004 when I retired it with over 330,000 miles on it. I had no major problems in 15 years of driving. We drove through ice, snow and through the depths of the August southwestern deserts. Of course, there were often prayers in the desert to God above to help us pass safely through.
I guess I did have one problem with Blue.
Blue had a star complex.
Several years ago I made my acting and singing debut in a film for CBS titled “Desperate for Love.” The director selected my truck to use as a set for one of the major scenes.
The teen-age theme was set around a high school choir and a love triangle that results in one of the leads dying. The film featured Christian Slater, Brian Bloom, Tammy Lauren and Veronica Cartwright. In one scene, Old Blue co-starred with them all as they danced, joked and cut up in Blue’s bed. After everything was said and done, the truck earned more money than I did that day.
I really did not mind. After all, I was the one who had to feed Blue.
After that I just couldn’t keep Blue out of episodes of “In the Heat of the Night.” Almost every week you could see that metallic blue pickup passing by in one scene or another. Blue just had a need to be on camera.
That was one of the reasons it was so hard to let the reliable friend go last year. I had always en-visioned Blue well polished, sitting in a film and television museum somewhere stuffed like Roy Roger’s “Trigger.”
In all the years Old Blue and I hit the trail, Blue only failed me once, when I was on my way to do a commercial audition in Charlotte, N.C.
Just as I came out of the mountains in the dark of the wee hours of the morning, Old Blue began to balk. I pulled off and as I made it under the bridge, Blue died.
Conveniently he carried me with his last breath to a sheltered area where I would not be standing in the rain that had just started com-ing down. Before long a police officer came by and helped me get pulled to a local garage, where after about five hours and a reasonable payment for the replacement of a coil, I was back on my way to the audition. I arrived a bit late but still ready to roll.
After 10 minutes, I had rejoined Old Blue for the trip home. I did not get the commercial. And you know Blue never gave me one more bit of trouble.
Somehow I just know that Blue figured out I was auditioning for a Ford commercial.
Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Offi-cer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night.” He is a member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. He is a syndicated columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2009 Peach Picked Publishing.