Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Saturday, June 12, 2010

C: The Volk’s on You!

In the early 1960’s my father took a civilian attorney position with the Air Force, which maintains a base about 20 miles north of our home.  Hetitan worked on contracts and other legal matters for their Titan II Missile Program, which I suppose is no longer “classified,” especially since one of the silos blew up in Damascus, Arkansas in 1980.

Naturally, my father rubbed elbows with the Air Force brass, and he loved to linger at the Officer’s Club.  Although I never met any of them, my brother and I became vicariously acquainted with these guys, hearing stories of “Colonel” this or “Major” that.  There was one colonel who was not a pvolkswagenblackarticular favorite of my father’s and, I gather, others in the office felt the same way.  We would hear tales of this man’s arrogance and boasting. 

One day the Colonel came in with a new boast.  He had purchased a Volkswagen, later called a “Beetle.”  These little cars were a rarity to us,  and I am sure the guys at the office gathered around to inspect it. 

Why, this little car will go forever on a tank of gas!” The Colonel exclaimed, rubbing in the fact that not only was he the first on the block to have this rarity but that it was a super-smart decision, to boot.  A plan hatched among his staff.

A task force was formed.  Before the Colonel’s first tank ran low, the rest of the guys begin taking turns going by his house every night to “top off” hispouring gas tank out of a gas can.  They all chipped in and shared the burden of keeping the Colonel’s tank full.

His car exceeded all the Colonel’s lofty expectations; he could not help but crow at how his gas gauge was barely showing a dent—after weeks!  The guys paced themselves so that it did appear gas was being used up, albeit it at an astonishingly-slow rate.  And the office staff heard about it—ad nauseum.  Except, of course those in on the joke were barely holding in their laughter.

This went on for weeks, and at one point the Colonel mused that he was going to contact the dealer because he wanted to know if this was normal that his gas mileage number should be three figures per gallon or if he had just happened on to an especially economical unit. 

My father leaped in, saying, “You know, I did a little research on your car, and it appears that after the break-in time you can expect your car to use more gas…kind of opposite to your regular models!”  This seemed to mollify the Colonel’s curiosity about his good fortune and allow the strike force to move to Phase II of the plan.

Phase II consisted of rotating the duty of siphoning gas out of the casiphonr about every other night…just enough to look like the car was turning into a gas guzzler.  This, too, raised the Colonel’s inquisitiveness, and he again considered calling the dealership.  He began tracking his gas mileage and discovered it was in single digits per gallon!  Finally, it was off to the dealership.

I remember my father’s glee as he recounted the entire office staff laughing over their imagined scenarios.  They could all picture the Colonel explaining to the mechanics that his car had gone from triple to single digit gas mileage.  The joke was over and, so far as I knew, the Colonel never was in on it.  He had enough clout that he could have made folks pay for his humiliation, so they had to be content with keeping the joke among themselves.

The Beetle must have made an impression on my father, because we had volkswagencont two in my childhood years, one of which was a stylish little yellow number with a black convertible top, which I wish I had today.

And, the love of Beetles carried over to my wedding day in 1970 when my father announced to all who gathered that he was pleased to present my new husband and me with the keys to a brand-new Volkswagen Beetle!  The entire crowd burst out in applause at his generosity—what a great start this would be for a young couple!  Our little car was dark green in color, on which we immediately plastered a peace symbol decal in the center of the rear window.

Dad’s Colonel Volkswagen joke came back to me the week after my honeymoon.  The dealership called to ask us to come in and “finalizepeace symbol” the sale of the little car, at which we were handed the payment book—with no money down.  It seems that my father, truly, had presented us with only the keys to the car—the payments were all ours!  The Beetle joke was on us….

Never mind!  We were able to pay for it and had many, many happy times in that little car, including fitting our huge German Shepherd in the back seat or, when I was alone, in the front…until I slammed the door on his tail, after which Ace would never get in again.  -C

15 comments:

Mamma has spoken said...

I too have many memories of the 'bug' from my childhood. I loved telling my kids, when they complained about being to close together in the back seat, how my aunt drove a beetle. And she would put all 6 of us kids in the back seat!

jan said...

Our mom bought a dark green beetle in 1968. My sister and I both learned to drive in it. We loved that car! It was so easy to start, even with a dead battery, or bad starter. We just had to remember to park on a hill!

Noni at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Oh, C! That is some story! Both the Colonel's joke and the wedding "gift"!

Kat_RN said...

One of my favorite posts so far! I am a sucker for this sort of thing. Your Dad and mine would have gotten on quite well.
The first car I bought by myself was a 1964 VW bug, not new but adorable, unfortunatly it had hidden mechanical problems. My husband and I have owned two bugs and two vans, lots of great memories.
Kat

Kat_RN said...

Just read Jan's comment and had to add another. Got to love a car you can push start by yourself!
Kat

Immigrant Daughter said...

I remember the wedding gift. After all CT didn't have good credit so your dad had to step in where we wouldn't because of all our cars CT had accident with. How I remember those days.

Ayak said...

Another really good story C.

I love beetles too, but have never owned one. Lovely cars.

Barbara said...

Loved this story. As a child my parents had the VW Van. Six kids could not fit into the beetle.

Vee said...

That was one elaborate joke to play and time consuming, too, not to mention fraught with danger lest anyone be caught. Ha! Your dad sounds like a character. We had a beetle, too, a little aqua blue number that I loved.

Zuzana said...

Beautiful tribute to an undying model.;) What a lovely recollection of sentimental memories tied to a car. To me my car becomes my very good friend. It shares with me the years of my life and becomes intertwine in them and part of my memories.
Have a lovely Monday,
xo

Happyone :-) said...

What a great story. My husband was in the military for 20 years of our marriage and living on bases I can see this happening.! :-)
I know a few good stories myself!!

Debbie said...

Oh, Lord, that was funny!!! I laughed my whole way through! Back in 1971, we had a red '65 VW Beetle. We loved it! I don't know how many times we and friends played 'stuff the VW.' Great memories and GREAT STORIES!

Queenmothermamaw said...

Oh I loved that story C. I had a beetle one time when I worked out in the field for home health. I got great gas mileage and that was important when I drove 150 miles a day out into the country.
QMM

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Reminds me of our little black VW--it drove great in the snow!

Jody Blue said...

That is a very crafty prank! My daughters boyfriend came for Fathers Day and some thing needs repair, so it will spend a couple of days here until my husband has time to fix it. I was telling my sister about it, its for sale but I'm not really and orange lover...she is. I took a picture of it with my cell phone and texted it to her. It would be a fun little car to ride around in when her and I are old ladies...

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