When my mother and father bought a home in Dothan and moved from Geneva, it was the winter of 1967. I also purchased a car from the lady who had sold her house to my parents. (Car No. 1) If my memory serves me correctly, it was a 1961 Buick Special. I thought it would be a terrific car for college. It was compact, got good gas mileage, had good paint, and the tires looked practically new.
It took all of my savings I had put away from working in high school to purchase this 6-year-old bronze-colored jewel. I sincerely thought it would last a long time — long enough to get me through college. I figured that I would be able to buy a new car, fresh off the showroom floor once I got a real, full-time job. Little did I know that scenario would be four years and four cars away from happening.
While I was out of college for the summer of '67, I worked for a brief time for Montgomery's WHHY-AM/FM radio in a downtown office building. We often joked that we paid the rent by saying, over the air at the top and bottom of each hour, "WHHY-AM and FM with offices and studios in the Guaranty Savings Life building in downtown Montgomery."
During a break from working at the radio station I had a date with a girl from Dothan. I thought I could impress her if I picked her up in Dothan and drove 100 miles to Montgomery just to take her to dinner and movie. I remember the movie we saw was "The Sand Pebbles" starring Steve McQueen. It turned out to be any but a great date movie.
On the way taking my date home to Dothan, the unimaginable happened. The bronze Buick gave up the ghost in Pine Level — a small ... really small community south of Montgomery. When the car wouldn't start, I pushed it down the shoulder of the road and left it in the parking lot of a store. Then came the phone calls to Dothan. One to my parents asking them to pick us up ... the other to her mom and dad explaining the situation and telling them we would miss her curfew by several hours. Thank goodness they were understanding.
Turns out the little Buick's engine was in terrible shape ... the result of the timing chain jumping. I won't go into detail as to the extent of the damage ... but there was plenty. I finally had the Buick towed to the dealership in Dothan and began my search for reliable transportation.
I ended up trading the Buick in for the biggest mistake I think I ever made in my car-buying experiences ... at least to that point in time. (Car No.2) Enter a 1963 (I believe it was) Oldsmobile 98. It was by far the fanciest, most gadget-filled B-I-G car I had ever seen. Remember when cars had small triangular vents in the front windows? It was used most often to flick the ashes off your cigarettes. Well this big boy had electric vents! I was so impressed. What I didn't realize at the time was the amount of oil and gas this guzzler would suck down. It seems I would have to put a fresh quart of oil in the engine just to drive from Dothan to Troy! (I may be exaggerating — but you get the picture.)
The big Olds didn't make it very long before I purchased one of the best vehicles I've ever owned. (Car No. 3) It was a 1967 Pontiac Executive that a good friend of my Dad had just traded in for a new model. The friend had taken excellent care of the Executive and I fell in love with it. It was typically large ... large enough for my audio add-ons. I had enough antennas on this car that it could easily pass for an undercover officer's ride. I had a CB radio, an AM/FM STEREO combination radio and 8-track tape player, the standard AM/FM radio, and a Cobra police scanner radio that was top-of-the-line.
And finally came my first beautiful, BRAND NEW, fresh-off-the-new-car showroom vehicle (Car No. 4). I remember everything about that 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. It was gun metal gray with a black vinyl top. It was a real dream car for me and a far cry from the other less-than-stellar auto purchases I had made.
What was I thinking when it came to cars No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3?
Oh yeah; I wasn't.