(08/13/2018)
By Jack Cawthon 2009
I had approached my annual checkup with a great deal of worry and concern. I knew that the news wasn't good when my specialist approached with averted eyes.

"It's bad, Jack," he said in a subdued voice. "Tell me, tell me…," I stammered. "It's the big C," he replied, as he laid an arm on my shoulder. "How long do I have?" I could hardly hold back the tears. "A year at the most and it will be costly," he said quietly.

The news hit me like a load of bricks. The final days, in addition to the draining of life, can drain one's finances, as we learn from the debates on TV.

"What will I do?" I pleaded. "If I were you I would consider Obama's Cash for Clunkers…" and here I almost screamed, "Don't call my truck a clunker!" Eldon, my ace mechanic who had seen me through many a time of need, a mechanic's mechanic who never became stumped with fuel system, rolling gear, or ignition, knew that he had struck a sore spot.

"No, no," he replied soothingly, "I know your truck isn't that, that's just a figure of speech, but it does have cancer rust of the frame, loose ball joints, faulty exhaust, a rusted spring bolt, bald tires…." "Enough, enough," I couldn't take more without a breakdown myself.

Twenty-two years ago Lee Iacocco, who had revamped Chrysler, looked me straight in the eye from the TV screen and told me to buy American and that he stood behind his products. I now felt betrayed. Only 22 years and the end of the road for what he had convinced me to buy? What does that say about shoddy American workmanship? No wonder people are buying foreign products!

My old Dakota pickup had borne me through many a trial and tribulation and had never let me down, but I must give credit for much of that to Eldon, the top doctor of his trade. With its tricky carburetor that only he and I understood, no one else could drive it—or steal it. (Do I hear mutterings of who would want to?) The Little Woman (5 ft., 2 ins.) tried driving it one time and found the seat wouldn't adjust close enough for her to reach the pedals. Any wonder I love that truck!

I feel pity for those people who trade vehicles every three years or so. They never get to know their car or truck. They never experience its, well, soul, if you must.

I believe that a piece of machinery has a life of sorts, and if you have feelings for it, those feelings will be returned. I know that many of you (Are there really MANY of you?) will laugh, but consider that I served time in a mental institution in Morgantown where strange ideas might be explained as degrees of oddities.

I saw this same love of a machine in the eyes of my dad. He had bought a Model A Ford in the waning days of the Depression. The car was several years old even then, but we thought we were driving in luxury with it.

It braved the dust, mud, snow and ruts of four miles of Barbecue and Grass Run roads and hauled us 12 miles to town until we moved there.

My dad could tear the engine down into pieces and overhaul it every year or so, as valves needed ground and carbon removed to restore power; detergent oils and improved gasoline hadn't arrived yet. My job, as a kid, was to use a putty knife to scrape the carbon from the cylinder head.

I learned to drive, or maybe, better, managed to drive, that Model A, but I hated it. And I think, in turn, it hated me. We bought a nice '41 Chevy from an attorney neighbor and that became MY car. To be honest, I was embarrassed to be seen in the Model A, and I took a lot of ribbing from other kids, which to a teenager can be devastating. (If I only had it now as a collectible no one would laugh.)

But my poor dad could never master the gear shift on the steering column of the Chevy, always raking reverse gear when he tried to shift into second. The Model A was always his joy until the end.

But he took sick and the Model A sat there. I would start it up once in a while, but we couldn't afford to keep two cars.

A rural mail carrier we had known for years used Model A Fords on his routes and one day he came by and made us an offer. My dad was near tears when the car left our driveway, but it continued to serve that mail carrier for many more years.

And now I face the dilemma of my dear old truck. Shouldn't there be a home for aged vehicles where they could live out their final days and rust in peace?

The Obama plan calls for liquid glass to be poured into the engine so that it can't be salvaged, parts removed, then the body crushed, and, finally, gasp, shredded. This is called recycling, but in my case, I consider it truck murder!

I have suggested to the Little Woman (5 ft., 2 ins.) that we place it upon blocks, a hallowed hill tradition, fill the bed with dirt and plant flowers, or maybe some vegetables in it. She, however, doesn't have the same esthetic values as I do, and has vetoed the plan.

Since the Cash for Clu…, I can't say that awful word, has been so successful, maybe the Obama health plan will have some similar plan for old folks, and just maybe I'll hang on to see if I might be doubly rewarded for my final days. I read not long ago that some fellow had been buried in his pickup truck. That guy had class! It only takes a little effort with a backhoe.


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