Friday, September 29, 2017

Buttons And Lemons

My father once bought a red Thunderbird to drive. For anyone who is not sure Thunderbirds were sports ars made by Ford.

He and I loved that car. It was used, not new. It had a strip of leather and metal that started on the ceiling and ended at the front of the bucket seats. On the strip were buttons... lots of buttons. We liked buttons.

Most of them did not work. But they were buttons and we liked them.

As a brand I prefer Fords. For some reason the seats fit my bottom and back better than most brands. I drive a Jeep SUV right now and I like it a lot too. But back to Fords.

For a luxury car I liked Lincoln Towncars or Mercury Crown Victorias. I liked Edsels too. Thunderbirds are sports cars. The 1956 model is one of the nicest looking cars ever. That is the model driven by the mysterious blonde in the movie American Graffiti.

I once bought my own Thunderbird. It was beautiful. Powder blue was the color. It had a tuck and roll white interior. Not very practical with children I know but nice to look at.

It also had a turbo engine. I have little idea of what that actually means. It is supposed to sound like the car is fast. All I know is that those turbos were one of the first things to go wrong with the cars.

I did love that car. I knew it was a lemon almost as soon as I got it but I loved it anyway.

I spent a lot of money on repairs for that car. Including a new turbo. Something was constantly needing to be fixed. I did love that car.

I finally gathered my senses and sold it for far less than I paid for it. I was lucky to get anything for it. It was a lemon after all.


  1. I never was in one but I loved the way Thunderbird looked.

  2. Goggles told me how a thunderbird looked like.
    Beautiful. A very antique look.

  3. We are both big Porsche fans particularly the old 356 model. Sadly we sold ours when we left South Africa. Have a great weekend, Diane

    1. The Porsche is out of my price range. They are expensive here.

  4. You didn’t say what year your T-bird was, so I can’t see it in my mind. You probably remember the many T-birds that Perry and Paul owned on many of the fifties episodes of Perry Mason. T-birds were the prettiest things on the road until they got big. When I was a kid, we drew lines of loyalty to Fords or Chevys based upon what brand our fathers had (my father owned a Ford). I bought and sold used cars as a young man and discovered that I liked Buicks and Pontiacs more than Fords. I also realized that my father never felt brand loyalty to Ford but that he had simply wanted a new car (rare for him) and bought from the dealer that offered him the best deal. Because he worked for the owner of a Buick dealership at the time (he did building maintenance), his new Ford greatly upset his employer. That car was a two-tone (white and beige) ’56 Fairlane with a 312 T-bird engine, and it became my car in 1964 when I turned 15 (it would hit 98 in the quarter mile). I followed it with a new ’67 Fairlane. My last Ford was an ‘84 Tempo that started falling apart around 85,000 miles. When I raised the volume of my complaints to the Ford dealership, the repair manager finally told me that the Tempo was never meant to last more than 100,000 miles. What I heard in this that it was designed to be a piece of shit. I’ve since owned one Chevy and several Toyotas, but the day that I go back to any American car is the day that they become as good as Toyotas. Before we bought out RAV4, we looked at Fords, which are supposed to be really good cars now, but we liked the Toyota better, and by then I had a long and always good history of Toyotas, while my disgust with the Temp was still bitter in my month. I wanted a new car mostly for Peggy who, more and more, goes place without me, oftentimes out of town. I wanted two things far above all others: safety and dependability, and the RAV4 was tops in both. A year and a half after getting it, Peggy is finally starting to love it as much as our previous car, a Camry.

    I can’t imagine being loyal to a brand in the way that you are. If I understand you right, for you, buying Ford is consistent with whom you are. It’s not like Emma=Ford and Ford=Emma, but it is a very long and strong preference, maybe because of your Dad’s t-bird. Well, not quite that extreme, but in that direction. For me, Toyota is nothing more than a good car. I’ve gone from someone who waxed his car twice a year and washed the motor as often as he washed the body, to someone who doesn’t care. As long as my car is clean and serviced regularly, I’m fine. I no longer need it to sparkle. Now for a sad change of subject.

    I’ve wondered a hundred times if you watched the Vietnam series. I thought of you every time that Carol Crocker would speak and I would ask you in my head, “Is this what you felt?”. I never had the idealism that so many of those young men had and that maybe your brother had. Peggy’s Dad went to Vietnam as an Air Force meteorologist (he briefed pilots), so he didn’t get shot at. Peggy tried to know as little about the war as she could, but she watched every minute of Ken Burns’ documentary. She said that, back then, she believed her government, and that she especially believed Nixon because he reminded her of her father. I never had such faith to lose. She only started watching the news when Trump won the presidency, and it wasn’t because she likes him.

  5. 1984 must have been a year for lemons. I do not feel overly attached to the Ford brand. As a matter of fact I have been driving a Jeep for many years and will probably buy another Jeep if and when I need to get another.
    I cannot watch things about the Viet Nam war. Even after all these years it hurts too much. My brother did not want to go. He was drafted as most of our soldiers at that time were. He was not idealistic about it. As a matter of fact he knew he would not come home alive. We talked about it often before he left. But it was the law.

    1. I meant your father's T-Bird because I don't even know what the later ones looked like.

      You have me wondering how the survivors of people who died in Vietnam view the series. At the end of the series, people who visited the Wall talked about their experiences. Some who only visited it after years of unwillingness spoke of how healing it was, but there was no mention of those who thought it was a horrible experience. I mentioned Carol Crocker because she surely appeared in over half the programs, and I found her eloquent. I knew your brother was drafted, but this didn't suggest to me how he viewed his service, that is was it simply something he did because it "was the law," or did he see it as his duty as a good citizen. One of the men who considered fleeing to Canada said that he now regards his willingness to go fight as the cowardly option. I know from my reading that people who fight in wars often feel similarly--and that they also perform actions in those wars because they were too afraid to do otherwise.

      I thought about bringing the series up with you for days before doing so, and I didn't visit your blog today with the intention of bringing it up. I don't really know how you feel about me asking you questions, and I didn't want you to feel blindsided, so I need your help with this. I just know that right now, I feel callous for bringing it up during a post about cars. Sometimes, I'm really not good with people. If you had rather I not talk about it, please let me know. I feel no need to talk about it, but I do feel curious about things, and I am interested in you. I thought I would understand the feelings of those who chose to fight after seeing the program, but I don't. Most of the earlier participants said they believed it was a good war and felt bound by patriotism to fight in it, but they might as well be speaking Chinese when they say that. The ones who went toward the end said they didn't want to go but were drafted. If I had been drafted, I would have gone, but I have every thought that I would have come home in very bad shape had I survived. To me, war is the road not taken, and I've gone from feeling like less of a man for not having fought to wondering how I could have been so naive to have thought that fighting in a war would have made me feel more manly anymore than any other horrible experience would have made me feel more manly.

      Really, let me know if I should avoid this subject. I don't know what else to say about it anyway. I stupidly assumed that you had seen it, or I wouldn't have brought it up today. I hope you will forgive me. Maybe I'm just too wrapped-up in myself right now to be anyone's friend. I had thought I would be most of the way over the surgery by now, and I'm not even close.

  6. I do not remember the year of my father's Thunderbird. I think it was from the decade of the 60's but I could be wrong.
    As far as my brother and Viet Nam I talk about him often and Viet Nam if someone is interested. It is seeing the fighting or simulated fighting that I cannot deal with. I welcome any opportunity to speak of my brother who was a special person. He saw friends die for the first time and it hurt him so. He sent pictures of a beautiful country. He missed his family and friends. We missed him. No need to apologize. I am settled with his death. I should mention that I do not watch war movies in general. The needless suffering and killing upsets me. I choose to not be upset. But to have a conversation is welcome. We will keep repeating wars until people learn a better way. We learn a better way by talking. I understand your interest and view it as a natural thing.

    1. Emma, you've made my day. I shuddered to think I might have offended you. The thing is, the war was on my mind because of that series, and I wrongly assumed that you had seen the series too, and that the war was also on your mind.

      I don't usually watch war movies (I think the last one was "Saving Private Ryan")either unless they're about espionage rather than battle. I have seen quite a number of documentaries, and read maybe ten or more personal account books that were war oriented. To turn war into an adventure book or film offends me because it trivializes war. I'm about to re-read "All Quiet on the Western Front," which was written by a German soldier about WWI. It's truly a remarkable book.

      "I am settled with his death."

      I've never experienced so great a loss as you, but I can't imagine ever coming to any kind of peace with it if I had.

  7. They certainly are nice looking, no doubt about that. What fun you must have had driving around in them. Greetings!

  8. My neighbor now had a 1957 Thunderbird when he was in high school. That was in the early 60s. I think his dad bought it for him when the car was new.
    It was gun-barrel gray. That was one of the most beautiful cars I'd ever seen.

    1. That was back when they put a little round, porthole-like windows by the back seats as I recall. I thought those windows were way cool. Maybe "Route 66" should have featured a T-Bird instead of a Stingray.

      I mentioned the old T-Birds on Perry Mason. It seems like very car that Perry and Paul ever owned was a convertible. Maybe convertibles were just A LOT more popular in Southern California. Thoughts, suspicions, snide remarks?