When I look at the man my husband, Bob has become, I can’t help but think back on the young man he was when I first met him, and imagine the boy he used to be. Bob has been and always will be very much into cars. Really, from the time he was young, to the present day. Cars have intrigued him. As a kid, he had lots of model cars. They pretty much dominated his time and his room. Pictures of his collections dominated his photo album too. He put the cars together with much patience and great care. If you have ever looked at a model car, before it was put together, you will know that there is a multitude od tiny pieces that must be glued in and in the proper order for the car to come together and look the way it should. Since I don’t really like to do puzzles, and this seems much like a puzzle to me, I think that putting a model car together would drive me crazy. Nevertheless, it was a pastime that Bob really enjoyed.
I didn’t know this before I knew Bob, but the makers of model cars keep a record of sorts on the cars they have made, much like baseball cards or football cards, you can collect them all. And, I think Bob may have done just that when he was a young man. I remember buying some for him in later years, and that is when I discovered that to do so correctly, I needed to know which ones he already had, because duplicates really made no sense…unless a person just wanted to have lots of different colored Mustangs.
These cars were not toys, as I’m sure Bob’s younger siblings and especially his little brother, Ron would find out. As a child who sees a plastic car will tell you…”It looked like a toy to me!” That was usually said after they found themselves in hot water with the model car’s owner. It’s an innocent mistake, when you think about it. All their toys are about that size, so what makes this car so special that it can’t be driven. Well, I suppose the real answer would lie in the fact that the car’s wheels were glued in place…or at least a lot of them were. The fact that the cars wheels would not move might make it difficult to drive it, but that is rarely a deterrent to a kid who wants to look the car over and play with it, but a big brother who threatens to rip your head off, might just make you think twice before you touch one of these priceless treasures…if you want to live, that is.
As the years have passed, Bob’s love of cars has only grown. Nevertheless, these days he has bigger fish to fry than the little model cars he used to love to spend so much time making. Now, real cars dominate his free time. He is constantly working on a car for this person or that person, and once in a while even himself…or me!! He is constantly covered in grease from head to toe. He seldom uses glue to put things back together, but there are times when a repair does call for a sealant or something similar. I suppose that if he had time, he might enjoy putting together model cars again, but thankfully for me, he doesn’t have a lot of time for such things. No, we don’t have model cars lining the headboard of our bed, but that doesn’t mean he likes then any less. And it doesn’t mean that our home is free of them either. While most of them have been given away or stored away in boxes, there is still one model car that gets to live out in the open. In our living room, on a shelf with knick-knacks, sits a model car of one of his favorite kinds…the El Camino. He used to have an one years ago. It is long since gone, but it’s memory lives on in the form of a model car.
If you were a teenager in the 1970’s, in Casper, Wyoming, you know about dragging the strip, because that was what the kids did back then. The local businesses didn’t appreciate it much when we stopped to talk in their parking lots either, although to this day I don’t know what harm there was in it. Nevertheless, if you sat in their parking lot very long, the police would show up and make you leave, and if you were caught there very much, they could even give you a ticket for loitering, although I never heard of anyone who got one.
Dragging the strip gave the local teens the chance to show off their cars and hang out with their friends. Our friend, Lana had a yellow Mach I Mustang. She took that thing to the car wash after work…every day, and then she headed out to the strip to hang with her friends. That always struck me as funny, because I just couldn’t see how her car could have been that dirty. I asked her about it once, and she said she just couldn’t take a dirty car out on the strip, and she lived on a dirt road, so it got dusty every time she went home. It made sense, I guess, but it was still funny. The things that bug us as kids…right.
The strip went from Red Barn, now Peaches, on 2nd Street to Smith’s on CY Avenue, and if you rode it very long, you would see just about every beater and hot rod imaginable. Bob drove a 1974 AMC Hornet, which would not be considered a sport car, except that it was gold, with racing stripes, mag wheels, and it was jacked up in the rear end, plus it was a V-8, and that gave it plenty of power, because it was a small car. My car was a 1968 Plymouth Fury III…not a sporty car, because my dad told me that I should get a car that could go from being my first car to being a family car later. It was a good idea, and it did do that, but I really wanted the pink Plymouth Duster that I tried to sell him on, or even the old panel van that I thought looked funky. Our friend Leroy drove an orange Road Runner, and another friend Kurt, drove a blue fastback Mustang. Some of the cars were beaters, as I said…just something to get by on, but not much for looks. It didn’t seem to matter as kids, because the main thing was to have the freedom to hang out and drag the strip, peeling out of A & W and wearing out our tires, and wasting gas…which I’m sure more than one of us wish we had back these days.