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Scarvey column: An ode to the gas guzzlers of our youth

Katie Scarvey
Salisbury Post

Since visiting Hybrid Technologies, I’ve been contemplating an electric car future, which makes me think about my first car and what a gas-guzzling behemoth it was.
When my brother and I were in high school, my parents bought us a big lazy car so we could get ourselves to sports and band practices and FFA and 4-H events (as well as outings that were probably less wholesome than the above).
It was a 1962 Oldsmobile Holiday ó a hulking white land shark of a car with bench seats as long as a church pew. It looked like something that Potsie would have driven on “Happy Days.”I hate to admit now that I was mortified to be seen in it.
When my brother left for Virginia Tech, I tried to convince my father to get me something newer ó for economy’s sake, of course ó since it got 11 miles to the gallon or so.
He assured me that an awful lot of gas could be purchased for the difference between the price of the Holiday and a more recent model car. (I think he paid less than $500 for it.)
Since this was 1978 and a gallon of gas cost about 60 cents, Dad did have a point.
I think that if I had the Holiday now, I might think it was pretty neat (except for the infernal knocking when I accelerated). At the time, though, its charm was lost on me.I did not know anyone at my high school who even dreamed of a new car, except for my prom date, who got a Camaro for his birthday. He was my school’s only card-carrying rich kid, and he was a wee bit spoiled.
Most people, if they had a car, had one as embarrassing as mine. My best friend drove a Dodge Dart ó and not one of the cool-looking ones.There were some great cars around, though. My hip English teacher drove a Karmann Ghia. She had black hair and outrageously blue eyes and had been divorced ó twice. All the boys in my class were in love with her. The rest of my teachers were pretty boring by comparison, like the one who used to fall asleep in front of us. I think she may have had narcolepsy, but we thought she was just old.
My husband’s first car was a 1964 powder blue Rambler American with a battery that would sometimes “fall out,” he says. I can picture him driving around Stamford, Conn., with the Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler” on his eight-track player, which only worked when a matchbook was tucked underneath it. Dave assures me the Rambler wasn’t the raciest thing on the road. “A little old man car,” is how he describes it.
“Most everyone else who drove one was wearing a porkpie hat,” he says.
He has much fonder memories of it, though, than of the Le Car that came later, which blew up about 12 minutes after he bought it.
Later, in college, he owned a ’57 Chevy for a while. I’ve seen a picture of him, shirtless, blowing cigarette smoke, lounging against that old Chevy. He’s wearing a crooked smile. He looks like a character in a Springsteen song. He doesn’t smoke anymore, and the Chevy is history. I wish I’d gotten to ride around with him in it just once.Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or kscarvey@salisburypost.com.

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