Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Old, dented car brings back memories


As I was driving on Interstate 80 between Green River and Rock Springs I happened upon an older, blue car.

It was going slower than most of the traffic, so I pulled into the passing lane to get around the slower-moving vehicle. When I was about even with the driver’s-side door, I couldn’t help but notice the front of the car had quite a bit of damage on it. I didn’t think twice about it because it was an older vehicle and I would expect that. What I didn’t expect was a decal or painting that said “Ouch” by the dents. It was in brown and orange colors, if my recollection is accurate; and it made me laugh.

Seeing that car, got me thinking about my first car, which was a hand-me-down family car. It was a red 1979 Pontiac Bonneville, also known as “The Boat.” Why? Well, anyone who has ever ridden in a car that size would understand. Every time we would hit a bump in the road the whole car would rock like a boat on the water.

At first, I was embarrassed to drive that old, busted up car to school, but then I realized how lucky I was to drive a car to school at all. A lot of my friends lived in town, some were not to far from the school, so they walked.

Now, when I say the vehicle was busted up, I mean it. Before I was lucky enough to drive the car, the car had been driven by my mother, who I think drove it through a steel garage door, my dad, who hit a deer with it once; and I only witnessed some of the crazy stuff my sister did with the poor car. 

I seem to recall my sister doing 360s and turning corners so fast we lost the hubcaps on more than one occasion. I can remember looking for a lost hubcap with a flashlight in the ditch so we could put it back on. I also seem to recall my sister smoking the tires, which I never thought was possible with a car like ours. I had seen muscle cars, race cars and big trucks do that, but never a family car like “The Boat.” 

I also remember a trip to Itasca State Park in Minnesota, we bottomed out the car and the muffler fell off and was dragging on the ground. We had to tie the muffler back up with wire until we could get it repaired.

Needless to say, by the time it was my turn, I had to baby the car for fear that it might not run anymore; and then I would have to return to that dreaded bus.

In the middle of a harsh, Minnesotan winter, the car started acting up. I told my father about it a few times, but of course whenever he checked it, the car worked fine. So, I continued to drive it.

One day after school, I was stopped at a stop sign and the car died on me. I was able to restart it with some pumping of the gas pedal, but sure enough it died again on me at the next stop sign. I was embarrassed, but that was nothing compared to what came next. The car died again in the middle of a busy road; and one of our town’s police officers pulled up behind me to see what was going on and keep traffic moving around me. Luckily, I lived in a small town of 3,000 and the officer knew me and my dad. He told me to try and get it started and he would give me and escort out of town. He did just that. I only had two more stop signs before returning home.

When I finally arrived home I left the car running. It sounded horrible and that was probably not the best decision I have ever made, but that it was I did. I ran to the house and got my dad. I explained to him what had happened. We were on our way back to the shed when we heard what sounded like a couple of gunshots. The car had shot the pistons out of its engine; and just like that it was dead. Of course, the whole family gave me crud for killing the family car, but I think it was a group effort.

I think about that car, from time to time, but it wasn’t until last week when I saw that older, blue car on the interstate that I realized just how many memories were attached to “The Boat;” and how lucky I was to drive it.


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