– memories of a man getting older –

Joy Ride

February 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

My dad worked for Rutger’s Chevrolet in New Brunswick, N.J., about 10 miles from our home in Metuchen. A number years I held a summer job at the dealership as the parts delivery driver. It was an awesome deal: arrive in the morning and clean up a bit around the parts area while orders were being created, then load up the trunk with parts and hit the road. For the next few hours I was driving a pickup, listening to music, stopping by different shops, dropping off parts and talking to mechanics. When the morning deliveries were done I’d head back to the shop, eat some lunch, pick up the afternoon deliveries and do it again. Some fun. I also got to know the mechanics and the service manager and would often help out “in the back” by filing work orders.

One day the service manager asked me if I would take a car out for a test drive. He had never asked this before and knew I didn’t have the mechanical aptitude to diagnose any problems, but I said sure and he handed me the keys. “It’s the blue Vette convertible,” he said in a matter-of-fact way (grinning large inside I am sure).

1965 Corvette

There it was – AWESOME! A new 1965 Vette, Marina blue with blue interior, top down screaming “drive me!” It was equipped with a 4-speed and the 327 cubic inch motor (“mouse motor”) with 365 horse power (highest rated small block). Optioned with the knock off wheels and the side pipes (chambered exhaust that ran below the doors) the owner obviously knew how to dress a Vette.

My first memory of the drive was going through Highland Park on the way to Metuchen. I had stopped for a light and noticed my left foot shaking on the clutch pedal. My entire body was shaking! I tried to compose myself and motored on to the music of the exhaust. Arriving in Metuchen I went and picked up my girl friend. We went for a ride through Roosevelt Park and rumbled around Metuchen. A bit of heaven.

I don’t recall but I must have been gone for at least an hour yet no one said a word on my return. It was a magical hour. It was a “joy ride.” The term was common back in the 60s. With less traffic and hostility on the road, people actually found driving a car joy filling. I certainly found driving that Vette joy filling, and unforgettable.

I can see the service manager’s face but cannot recall his name. I can almost read his name in my memory, embroidered above the pocket of his starched, white work shirt. I’m thankful to him for such a gift. He knew what it would mean to me and trusted me to see the event through to a good end.

I hope I do the same for my daughter. Allow her to have life-memory events, beyond my sight, beyond my control, trusting she will see them through to a good end. I hope her life has its share of joy rides.

Tags: Metuchen N.J.

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