When my mother was 35, Daddy gave her a present that she was absolutely wild about. It was a 1962 Ford Thunderbird Landau which was the hot car in those days. Later, after the new was long gone, they let me take it to Ole Miss. That was during my senior year when kids rarely had their own cars. (Suddenly everyone became my friend.)
Of course, my parents made it clear they wanted the car back when I graduated. Daddy has been driving it off and on for going on 45 years since they got it back. Mother is gone, but her “Bird” rides on. It’s got more new parts than the bionic man and on July 4th, “the bird” was selected to carry the Grand Marshall of the Fourth of July parade in my hometown. I was asked to play chauffeur – probably because they needed the car (which is sorta mine) and because Daddy was Grand Marshall of the parade.
She felt odd in my hands after all these years – her steering wheel is about the diameter of a coat hanger and the ignition is way over on the left side which makes it awkward to crank. Her air conditioning is non-existent and the power windows – oh so avant garde in the 60s – are now on strike. She guzzles premium fuel like a college boy on Budweiser.
We baked ourselves to “people jerky”during the parade but “the bird” practically floated down the parade route. Later Daddy let me run her wide open on the highway – with great trepidation. (He reminds me daily of the dent I put in her fender in 1965.) She can go from 0 to 75 in six seconds. I often wonder what my mother wanted with that kind of horsepower. Did she lead a double life and drag raced when I was at school?
“The Bird” will be mine when I add a wing onto my house in which to house her. The question is, can I afford her? Can you earn money by winning drag races? That would solve my problem once and for all.
Pictured with Daddy are grandchildren Kirk and Marty Cooper of Tupelo.