Clunkers were all we had in old days

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All this talk about “Cash for Clunkers” reminded me of some clunkers my family had when I was a kid.

Clunkers were all we had, and Daddy always paid cash for them. Our clunkers were usually bought around tax refund time, the bigger the refund, the nicer the clunker.

Three stick out in my mind from my Coal Grove youth.

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The first clunker I remember was a 1970 something Plymouth Fury. This was a boat of a car, huge outside body, but not really that big inside to be such a large car.

Ours was creme color, black interior. The car would “pass everything but a gas station,” daddy would say. Purchased with our tax refund, it served as our family car for years.

The second clunker I remember was a 1973 Ford Mustang. Daddy purchased the car for a few hundred dollars at tax time. It would become his “weekend” car, drove purely for pleasure. He rebuilt the Mustang from the ground up, new paint, shocks, tires and wheels, etc. I was the first to start the Mustang, after he rebuilt the engine. Daddy standing outside with his trusty screwdriver, ready to make adjustments.

Our third clunker was a 1958 Chevy truck, again purchased with a couple hundred dollars at tax time. It was mostly red, or maybe it was “mostly rust.”

Either way, its main purpose was hauling off the trash, with an occasional trip to the lake. This was the first truck I ever drove, I was about 10.

Daddy would put me behind the wheel, after turning onto North Street, we could coast down hill to our house. Me driving, Daddy, sitting very close with a foot on the brake, hands ready to grab the wheel … just in case.

Michael Campbell is a former Lawrence County resident who now calls Statesville, N.C., home.