Saturday, February 6, 2010
A long time ago, when I was in my second year at IU, I bought my first car, a gray 1972 Plymouth Fury, a big heavy tank of an automobile. I didn't choose it very scientifically; one of my good friends was graduating from IU that year and his parents were buying him a new one, so he sold me his old car for $1000. Had I been thinking I might have chosen something a little more economical to drive and with less room for passengers. I drove the Fury until I shipped out to Germany shortly after graduation. My clueless younger self couldn't be bothered to sell it, so I gave it to my sister, tags and insurance intact, and left.
When I returned to the family farm on leave a couple of years later, I was unhappy to find my old car had been stripped of its relatively new tires and was parked at the edge of the woods on concrete blocks. The sister to whom I had given the car had moved on to Virginia and left it behind. I demanded that the relative who took the tires put them back; still, I was only home for a few days. I canceled the registration and insurance and left again. Like Sleeping Beauty, my car waited in the woods for thirty years.
Now that I'm older, back in Indiana, and spending a lot of time with other people's heirlooms at the museum, it really bothers me that my old car is rusting away in the woods, even if I'm not the person who put it there. I have enlisted DH to help me retrieve it for recycling, but it isn't easy. On our first trip to the farm we discovered that it had been moved from its original spot to a much less accessible one, blocked by other abandoned vehicles, thick thorn bushes and a stand of new trees. Funny--the Fort Riley sticker from ROTC summer camp in the summer of 1978 is still intact and still bright orange, but the seats are completely destroyed. All four tires were buried up to the rims in frozen mud. My ever-practical DH lost enthusiasm for the project, citing the number of hours and resources it would take to extricate the Plymouth, but I was Ahab and the car had become my white whale.
This week we returned, better equipped with a small chainsaw and a large jack. It was a clear steel-blue day and the air was fresh and biting, but we worked in the cold for about three hours this time. We cut the new trees and the thorn bushes away and put boards under the flat tires. We even managed to drag the car forward five feet, but discovered the wheels wouldn't turn. This, DH declared, was a major obstacle to towing. And so we left my Fury again, but not before taking this picture.