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‘My new ride was canary yellow’

By Greg Parrott One of the biggest days in a young person’s life is when he or she get their drivers license. I remember well in 1975 when I earned my license. It was a whole new life of freedom. My father started letting me drive when I was about 12. I learned to drive his 1949 Chevy pickup with three speed on the column. I’d drive on all the dirt roads near our home in Brooks. Dirt roads were very common 40 years ago. I’d worked as a farm hand several years before getting my license. Bush hogging, raking, baling and putting the hay in the barns was my job, May through September. I made $2 per hour of hard summer work. I saved my money for several summers to buy my first car. I’d buy bales of hay, deliver them to the buyers and make 75 cents a bale. The law never stopped us and checked for a license. They knew we worked on a farm and that’s the way things operated back then. In July 1975 I bought my first car, a 1966 Chevelle Super Sport. It had hi-jackers on the rear axle and wide tires with rally sport rims. Under the hood sat a 427 cubic inch motor that was once in a Corvette. It was a four-speed and would squall the tires in all four gears. I installed an eight-track player with an FM radio. Just below the steering wheel was a toggle switch to cut the power to the brake lights if you passed a police car running over the speed limit. They’d look in their rear view and see no brake lights. You could take a quick turn onto a road or the woods and the police could not find you. I am guilty of this a few times. My new ride was canary yellow. I would wash and wax my pride and joy after every rain. I was a proud car owner. Just after Labor Day when school had started, I left my driveway for the first home football game. I’d gotten about eight miles of the 12 mile ride to the football stadium when my day went really bad. The skies had just opened up with a shower and I started to pass a slower car. As I went into third gear my car started to hydroplane on the slick asphalt. I lost control and started spinning like a washing machine on the spin cycle. My car came to a slamming halt as a big Georgia pine caught it at the firewall and split my pride and joy in two. I was devastated. A few cuts in my head was all that got my flesh in the battle with the big pine. The accident was on highway 92 just south of Fayetteville at Harps Crossing. The big pine still stands there today with its victory scar from 36 years ago.  I got out of my car and looked at the massive damage that had just taken place on my $900 blood, sweat and tears investment. I ran across the road to a friend’s house and used their phone to call my parents. I told them of my accident and that I was ok. They were happy for my safety. I never made it to the first home football game of the season. I spent that Friday night drowning in my tears of sorrow as my mother picked glass out of my scalp at the kitchen table. As I look back at the day of that accident, I learned metal can be replaced and flesh will heal eventually. My pride took longer to heal than anything. That Chevy Chevelle was more than I bargained for. I was used to driving my parents’ Plymouth Fury and the old 1949 Chevy pickup. There was a big difference between them and a muscle car. On that particular September day the horses under that hood were a little too much for this young farm hand. I fell hard but I dusted off my britches and started saving my earnings again to buy another car that wouldn’t buck quite as hard. Some of life’s best lessons are the ones that hurt the most. My pride was hurt more than anything. I had to ride the bus once again to school and that wasn’t cool. If you’re fortunate enough to have your mother alive, call her and tell her you love her. I’ve got to go for now, I have a phone call to make.

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