Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Story of Our First Car....

I received a lot of positive feedback about my story of how Pam and I met, so I thought I would throw out another story.   This one is about our first car.  When Pam and I met, I was fresh out of college and neither of us owned a car.   I had decided to leave my 58 Pontiac Super Chief in Florida when I graduated because I wasn't sure it would make it back up the coast to New Hampshire.  So I found a buyer and flew home.  Boy do I regret that decision. 

When we first started dating, she lived in Nashua and I lived across the river at my parent's house in Hudson.  We had both arranged rides to and from work and occasionally mooching a ride somewhere.   I used to go to her apartment after work and we would eat and hang around.  But at the end of the night I would try to thumb my way back to my parent's house.  The trip was only  about six miles.  But people didn't like to pick up hitchhikers at ten or eleven at night.  So you relied on finding a young person driving your way.  But Pam worried about my safety and started to encourage me to stay overnight.  So several days a week I would sleep over.  A funny side story about that... when I did stay overnight, Pam slept in her pajamas under the covers and I slept in my street clothes on top of the covers.  Obviously, that did not go on for too long as our relationship progressed.  But that is a true story.  But it was clear to me that I needed to find a car.

Having grown up outside of New Haven, I was still plugged into the social scene down there.  One nice thing about living near New York City is that Broadway shows often rehearsed some performances at places like the Schubert Theater in New Haven.   So as our relationship started to get serious, I tried to get some tickets to shows in New Haven.  I was able to buy tickets to see Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair at the Schubert.  But how were we going to get there?  I had no car and she didn't even have a driver's license.  Asking around, I found that you could rent cars from the local Chevy dealer.   I went to MacMulkin Chevrolet in Nashua and rented a car.  I rented a 1971 Chevelle Malibu with a 350 cid V8.  It was a pretty car in dark red metallic paint and a white interior.   The first trip to Connecticut was uneventful and I went back and rented the same car for the second show.  After renting the car for both trips to Connecticut, I asked the rental agent  how many miles they put on them before selling them.  He responded that they would sell it an any time.  So for the cost of about $2,500, I bought the car.

Shortly before we were married, one of my fraternity brothers was due to get married and we were  invited.  He lived in very far western New York.   So on a Friday night, immediately after work, Pam and I jumped into the car and headed out towards Busti, New York.   Busti was a very small town at the intersection of five roads and very near the boarder with Pennsylvania.  The drive to Busti was almost nine hours.  Considering that we had worked all day, I became really tired and I asked Pam to drive.  We were on the NY Thruway and it was very late at night.  Pam and I swapped places in the front seat and I slept while she drove.  Something woke me up at one point, just as we were driving by a sign that said two miles to next service area.  I glanced at the dash and the fuel gauge read "E"!    Sure enough, about a mile later that 350 motor ran out of fuel and shut down.  Taking with it the power steering and power brakes.  Pam stood on the brake pedal and that Chevelle slid toward the guard rail on the rain slicked roadway.  When it came to a stop, you could not slip a piece of paper between the side of our new car and the guard rail.   After about fifteen minutes of standing in the rain with my thumb out, along came a State Trooper.  He was very professional and took me to the service station for fuel and then back to the car.  I told him that I was driving, knowing that she had no license.  

Steve's wedding was a real blast.  The crowd was made up of older friends and relatives and his young college friends.  After the reception dinner, all of the fraternity brothers and their partners decided that dancing was boring and we left the building.  We drove the short distance to his parents home and began a game of tag football on the lawn.  When we had enough of that, we returned to the reception.  The older folks were still dancing.  So we rounded up a bunch of chairs at one end of the dance floor and began playing a drinking game called Zoom Schwartz.  The elders were so amused that they stopped dancing and watched us play and drink.  We all had a great time at that wedding.  Most of us were not married, so we also got to shack-up in a motel.  😁

Another funny story about this Chevelle was related to our wedding and honeymoon.   While we were entertaining the guests at our reception, several people decorated our new car, orchestrated by my two brothers.  There was writing all over the car declaring our marriage along with a lot of streamers.  After the reception, we drove back to our townhouse for a nap before driving to Cape Cod.  After the nap, we stripped the streamers off the car and headed south.  Pam was still pretty tired so she laid down across the front seat with her head in my lap.   Somewhere on route 495 South, a truck pulled up next to me.   As I looked over, he was pointing to all the writing on the car about just married, but he could not see Pam.  So I pointed down at her head to show that she was asleep in my lap.  The truck driver got a huge grin on his face and gave me a big thumbs up sign and sped off.  He obviously had mistaken her nap for another activity.  We both got a big chuckle out of that later in the day.










Since this story is mostly about our 71 Chevelle, I will tell the final story about it.   A few years after we were married, the division of Sanders that we worked for was sold to Harris Corporation.  One year later, I was being transferred to Dallas, Texas.  By that time we also owned a Ford pickup truck.  Obviously, we could not drive two vehicles from New Hampshire to Dallas.  So our Chevelle was loaded onto the moving van with all of our belongings for the trip south.  We only lived in Texas for about eighteen months before we (I) decided to move back to New England.  By now, the New England winters had caught up with our wonderful car.  The rear quarters were starting to show rust, as well as around the bottom of the rear window.  Since it would cost more to move the car back to New England than it was worth, we decided to sell it.  Our beloved red metallic Chevelle was now owned by a native Texan who purchased it for his daughter.

 So that is the story of our first car.  We loved it and it served us well.  We hope that she is still on the roadway traveling around Texas.



  1. What a fantastic story, thanks. That Zoom Schwartz was a great game, I still recall some of the rules, remember, you can't zoom a zoomer!

  2. Glad you have great memories. Cars always have a story behind them.

  3. Bruce,

    A great story; honeymoon on the Cape...sounds like something we might have done (actually did)! Great way to start the next 50 years.