by Earle Jones
You couldn't argue with Jay even if you tried.
"First car; Won't be my last, but it'll always be my best," he said with a glazed, almost mad-scientist-like look on his face.
"Sure is a beauty," I lied. I mean what else could I say? I was not about to burst his bubble. The boy had obviously been bitten by some sort of bug that inflicts blindness and bad taste.
Jay had purchased the 1962 Volvo sedan for the soul purpose of transporting gear,
canoes and a few close friends to the nearest put-in, contrary to the undeviating advice
of his "Close friends", one of which was me.
"Maybe it would be prudent to look into a domestic vehicle that wouldn't inflict cardiac arrest or, at least, panic, on the country mechanic when he opens the hood," we all said. "I don't think we're apt to find many Volvo mechanics where we plan on taking it." But, alas, Jay was not with us. The vacant stare in his eyes said it all.
"This is absolutely the best, most perfect bush vehicle, so don't try and stops me!" Probably the only thing this "vehicle" (and I use the term loosely) had in common with a real car was a license plate, which I tend to believe, was borrowed from a roadworthy one.
Jay had devised a rack that would carry 5 canoes on the roof of his bush vehicle. As difficult as this is to imagine, in reality it was even more difficult to get that fifth canoe on top of the heap. We soon realized that driving speeds had to be drastically reduced with this marriage of method and madness. I think the visual image is strong enough.
The paint job was ...unique. (for lack of a better word) A secret blend of four colors of paint which turned out to be algae-green had been applied with a roller. Where holes had rusted through the body, a generous layer of masking tape "did the trick" and had been painted over to give it a quilted look. Jay later found out that the canoeist's secret weapon (duct tape) did a much better job, especially on the flared fenders. He said it gave it a space-age look. Everyone laughingly referred to Jay's car as the friendliest on the block because those bulbous fenders would flap in the wind as he drove by as if waving at the parade of rubbernecking onlookers. Amusing as it was, with the aid of duct tape, Jay rectified this feature stating that it detracted from the vehicle's aerodynamics. No-one dared react to that comment.
The passenger door opened from the outside only; the driver's door didn't open at all. Getting in and out was a feat of gymnastic excellence of which few wished to partake. But it was a car and best of all, Jay did not mind leaving it at the put-in for countless days and weeks on end while we all paddled and hiked into oblivion. The car was never stolen or vandalized which was often the topic of hours of conversation around the evening campfire. One commented that if a thief had decided to borrow it, it would be too easily identified. Another favorite was that even thieves have standards. My favorite of all: Vandals had beaten them to it.
But in spite of its many odd traits, the car ran great and never left us stranded in the bush. As a matter of fact, Jay kept his car longer than the rest of us kept our normal cars.
When Jay finally sold it, I think we all felt a little saddened. That's right. He sold it. The next owner kept the car for five more years, though, almost as a sense of profound reverence, he never did change the color.
Oh, by the way, Jay was right; it was my best, too.
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