I had just turned 18 and my dad had bought me my first car. It was a 77′ Pontiac Ventura. Imagine the body of the Chevy Nova and add a vinyl roof. Muscle Car. This thing had an 8 cylinder engine that screamed, “put the pedal to the metal.” It sucked the hell out of gas but I didn’t care because it was all mine. It had a gold body, an off-white roof, and some Eagle ST high performance tires that were screaming to hit the freeway. I couldn’t wait to drive it.
The car was well-kept because it was a southern car which makes sense because my dad was a southern man. He was retired USMC and a retired Arkansas State Police officer. My parents had met in San Fransisco following the Vietnam.War. He was stationed there doing Honor Guard. They met in an Episcopal church basement social, at a “mixer”, I think that’s what the folks called dances back in the day. He was wearing his dress blues, she wore a pretty dress and was looking all doe-eyed. She was from Boston but had bought a one-way ticket to California to escape an oppressive and strict upbringing. Within a day my mom cold called the First National Bank of San Francisco and had herself a job as a teller and also managed to get herself a “flat” with a roommate. Not to shabby for nineteen.
After my mom and dad married they settled in the deep south in his home state and eventually had me. My parent’s marriage didn’t last but a few years due to my father’s alcoholism, PTSD from the war, and an extra–marital affair. My mom moved back east with me, which by the way is where I was trying to drive this awesome muscle car of the 70’s following my visit. My mom flew out to Arkansas to help me drive it back to New England.
My dad knew his way around a gun and was so damned good with a weapon he was asked to be on the Marine’s elite rifle squad. Which is why I suppose he felt the need to give me and my mom a .22 handgun “for protection” on the way home. He showed me how to load it and unload it. Fire it a few times. This was such a small ass pistol, a baby could practically shoot it. So we tucked it into the glovebox of the car.
My dad says,” now ya’ll are going to need to get this car home but it ain’t registered. So I”m gonna put these here Veteran plates on the back of the car so you don’t get pulled over.” He continued, “now it’s not insured obviously so don’t go speeding or nothin’ and there aint no insurance on it neither, so just drive careful.”
It was the middle of the summer and it was 100 degrees in the shade. It was hot as hell. It was the sort of weather that as soon as one would take a shower and dry off, there is the need to re-shower again because the sweat would just pour down. This region of the country, people just go from air-conditioner to air-conditioner. Only at night does it cool to about 85 degrees or so and even then, it’s still humid, sticky, and oppressive. I’m not sure if it crossed my mother’s mind then but it sure crosses my mind now about the situation we were in transporting that vehicle:
- We were driving a car with illegal veteran plates attached
- The car was neither registered nor insured
- There was an unregistered 22 caliber handgun in the glovebox
- There was also an expired inspection sticker in on the vehicle
In hindsight, I’m fairly certain that we were committing a felony offense carrying a concealed, unregistered weapon over several state lines as well as several misdemeanors; which would have got us several years in jail each, had we got pulled over. Then again, I doubt that I would have done anything any differently than I did then knowing what I know now. I still have a set of plates (from an un-named state) that I keep around “just in case” I might need to go on the lam.
There’s always is a little rebel in each of us? *smiles*