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"If That Car Talked: Good Friends and a '67 GTO

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Preface


How long (if ever) as it been since you sat in a car and could feel the power of a big V-8 engine shaking your seat while the car is just idling? The ride you are about to embark on is what it was like to grow up in a small town in Virginia in the early to mid 1980's while driving what was considered one of the fastest street cars around. It is just as much about the people, town and county where I grew up, played and even worked and hopefully where I will retire one day. I suppose if they can stand being called the "Moonshine Capital of the United States," I'm sure they can handle this. Most of the names have been changed just in case a skeleton or two gets dragged out of the closet... If my generation had a "label" we were not aware of it. Neither a baby boomer nor Generation-X fit considering I was born in 1965. Not that we needed an identity as it seemed most of my friends were just out to have a good time without hurting anyone else for the most part. 
   
   To keep some sort of theme in hand, I tried to tell stories that related to my first car for this book. Not all of them either, as those memories will have to wait. Many others could be written (and still may) that are just as intriguing, but for now it's certain these will keep you enthralled, especially when you can read between the lines... The first two chapters are several short, more random satires that set the tone, introduce some the "characters" and give the lay of the land as 11 it was back then. Then there are twelve individual anecdotes, in chronological order during a more specific time and place, with more detail plot and "players." We did like having fun, but we also liked our freedom and always tried to keep that in mind when we were out "doing our thing." Well, most of the time... Okay! Part of the time... Now read on!


Excerpt from Chapter 1: 

   Somehow I managed to keep it on the road literally for over 75,000 miles in five years. I never wrecked it. Not one scratch. Never put it in a ditch, never clipped a signpost or a tree, and never hit anyone else or let anyone hit me. Although someone did try to hit me and someone else tried to make me hit them. We were somewhat wild back then, was one way to put it... I did go through three engines, seven transmissions, and at least 36 Eagle GT radial tires. Two sets the summer between my sophomore and junior year and with a cast on my left hand and arm from a friend flipping his car in a pond one early summer night in 1982. Only big   bone I ever broke; plenty of fingers and toes broken from football and baseball and the like though. I had to actually hit the driver's door at an awkward angle to get us out. It was a '76 Celica and we were upside down in a farmer's pond at 2am. 
   
   He had gotten off the road, overcorrected and when the front tires came back on the pavement it caused the car to shoot directly off the other side of the road. In a fleeting moment of silence, we were airborne: Flying straight towards the water. The right front end clipped the embankment of the pond flipping us over and back up in the air, only to come crashing down flush on the windshield over the bank and into the pond. The impact was so horrendous it even shattered the safety glass of the windshield and showered us in shards glass. Remarkably we both made it that far seemingly unharmed for the most part. After a few more seconds of hysterical confusion I realized the impact had crushed the window openings down to only a few inches on both sides. Suddenly I was feeling somewhat claustrophobic for the first time in my life, as there seemed to be not way out. Still we were in the water so that became the first concern. Both doors were stuck not only from the impact, but were mired in the thick muck of the shallow pond. It was like they were locked, even though they weren't. 

   The car was laying upside down on the windshield opening or what was left of it, so no escape route there either: I had to get one of the doors open, as that was the only chance we had of getting ourselves out anytime soon. Plus we didn't know if the water was going to keep filling up the car or if the leaking gas and oil would spark a fire. We were way out in the country and really had no idea where we were except near Callaway. We didn't even know if anyone would know where to even begin to look. It would be at least four hours until daylight and then some one would have to see us over in the pond. I was not even sure where the isolated road was or if we were still even with in sight of anyone passing by. The headrests where bent over from the top being crushed down, so there was little room left for us to maneuver around, not to mention the gearshift was now sticking down from the ceiling of the totaled car. If  we had been wearing seatbelts and stayed straight upright in the seats, there would have been obvious grave results. The dashboard was even crushed in: To this day I (and everyone else that saw the car) still don't know how we survived the impact to begin with. 
   
   The pictures I found after I started writing this book tell the tale. You really can't even recognize what kind of car it was; like it had been in a car crusher or an elephant sat on it. No way was I was going to get my door to budge as water was still seeping in that side anyway. We were very lucky indeed, but we still had to get out of the car and then out of the pond to try to find help. 
   
   The stereo was still blasting "Led Zeppelin" and the eerie green glow from the scrambled dash lights made this upside down world an all too real nightmare. Water was still coming in and Lenny was yelling he was hurt, smelled gas and for me not to leave!! I replied, "Well I'm not staying here!! And I'm not going to leave you here either...just try to calm down while I figure out how we're going to get out of here." To keep my bearings straight I took one last glance around the shattered watery interior, found the ignition and turned the key off. With the dash lights now extinguished we were thrown into total darkness and silence....