1975 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe pick up truck—I always wanted a truck, for some reason. Why the hell a young guy in suburbia needed a truck, I’ll never know.
I guess I thought a truck would be more cozy and cooler than a station wagon. So, I convinced my dad, who was big-time into buying and selling cars, to trade in the station wagon for a decent used truck. As always, Dad came through and found this gem.
It was a bare bones truck. Straight six-banger, auto-transmission, manual brakes, manual aftermarket choke, no air conditioning, and, for unknown reasons, no tailgate!
Of course, it had a booming AM/FM cassette stereo with a power booster.
I had my priorities.
No. That is not me in the truck. That is my solid black German shepherd, whose name was Bogart. His name was funny for lots of reasons. He was a good boy!
On the glove box door was a Custom Deluxe emblem, which included a small cowboy hat. The cowboy hat was a constant source of amusement to my admittedly non-cow-boyish Hoosier passengers and me. In an altered state, we would point to it and laugh and say… “CUSTOM DEEEEEEEE-LUX!” …and oftentimes even perform a quick hambone!
We were easily entertained.
The engine was finicky, consumed inordinate amounts of fuel, and most of the time ran so rough that the carburetor would vibrate loose from the intake, and I’d have to pull over and tighten it down. Doing this was always cool when on a date with a hawt chick. (Like that happened a lot!)
I drove this beast to St. Louis with my buddy Scott to see a Robert Plant concert, because Led Zeppelin wasn’t around anymore, and Robert Plant was the coolest and closest thing to Led Zeppelin, and we would have driven all the way to Carnegie Hall to watch Plant fart on stage.
We were big fans.
Anyhoo, this trip was a hoot. We had a plastic 5-gallon pickle bucket full of iced beer in the truck with us, and several cases of rock ‘n’ roll cassettes.
We were set.
After the concert, we were tired…too tired, in fact, to react to a carload of hawt chicks that were checking us out at a gas station.
Another memorable experience with this truck was the time my old friend Scott and I road-tripped to Bloomington and Indiana University to visit our buddy Lowell at his fraternity...TappaBunchaAss.
Dropping in to see Lowell at the frat was always a guaranteed alcohol-fueled adventure. In this case, alarming quantities of beer and Jack Daniels were involved, as was me hitting on Lowell’s younger sister, falling over the bar backwards, and puking in somebody’s cooler.
Yes. I was a party-barfer that night…below average in anybody’s book.
Scott ended up doing the fireman’s carry on my ass to the truck, and driving us safely back to Indianapolis. Once there, I decided I was sufficiently sober to drive myself home from Scott’s crib.
Scott seemed to disagree, and did everything short of hitting me over the head with a couch to get me to stay at his place until I wasn’t so tired.
I should have listened to him.
The next morning, I looked at the truck and saw it had some front-end damage.
I called Scott and asked, “Did I hit something last night?”
His reply, “You mean…besides my neighbor’s car?”
Not only had I tapped his neighbor’s car pulling away from the curb, causing no damage, I also apparently flattened a road sign on my way home, doing lots of damage to the front of my beloved truck.
Turn on, tune in, drop out.
Fuck you Timothy Leary.
It was at about this point in my life that I recognized that I had somewhat of a problem, and I needed to somehow get my shit straightened out, or I was gonna end up dead, killing someone, or in jail.
Before I knew it, I had enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and I had my dad sell the truck while I was away.
But, it would be many years later, many vehicles, many more costly mistakes and regrets, and the love of a great woman, before I would get my head (somewhat) right.